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Whistleblower: Hero or Rat?

April 23, 2012, 12:00 AM

Everyone has secrets. Some have personal secrets of infidelity, lies and embarrassing tidbits that they hope will never see the light of day. Powerful institutions like businesses and governments also have secrets of shady practices, illegal behavior and incompetence. 

But at some point, employees and constituents become outraged and fed up. Some want justice or revenge. With the help of whistleblowers, who risk their jobs and status to expose dirty secrets, the underbelly of high profile people and institutions are brought to light for public scrutiny. 

Here are five high profile whistleblowers who made the news recently for publicly airing the dirty laundry of someone they worked with. While some have noble and thoughtful reasons, others might have more questionsable intentions. 

What do you think? Are these whistleblowers heros or rats for blowing the cover on their bosses' alleged misconduct?

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Wang Lijun - Wang is a regional Chinese police official in Chongqing, effectively the city's police chief. He is currently involved in one of China's biggest political scandals since Tiananmen Square where he was demoted for revealing details to the U.S. Consulate about British businessman's Neil Heywood's death and subsequent cover-up. He went to the U.S. Consulate in Chongqing and stayed there for 24 hours. Wang was allegedly trying to defect or seek refuge from Bo Xilai, a Chinese political "princeling" and his wife, who are at the center of the investigation for Heywood's murder. 

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Greg Smith - Smith was the executive director and head of Goldman Sachs’ United States equity derivatives business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. His public resignation in March was well documented in a New York Times Op-Ed piece where he criticized his employers for "callously" ripping off their clients and treating them like "muppets." Smith landed a $1.5 million book deal a few weeks after his resignation.

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Joe Muto -The "Fox Mole" was fired from his position as an associate producer on The Factor on April 14 after Fox News discovered that he published a post on Gawker. The post was an attempt to unveil the "seedy underbelly" of Fox News. In it, he criticized Fox for "non sequitur, ad hominem attacks on the president; gleeful race baiting; a willful disregard for facts." Muto has admitted to posting behind the scenes videos of Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. He may face criminal charges from Fox for computer tampering, according to Forbes.

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Bradley Manning - He is a U.S. Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq for allegedly leaking classified information to Wikileaks. He was charged with communicating national defense information, aiding the enemy, which is a capital offense.  He gave Wikileaks a video that shows the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. He is also accused of sharing the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize earlier this year.

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Mike McQueary - The assistant football coach is a key witness in the Penn State sex abuse scandal. He reported to head coach Joe Paterno that fellow assistant coach Jerry Sandusky raped a 10-year-old boy in the locker room. While he reported the incident to Paterno the next day, McQueary was criticized for not immediately going to the police. Sandusky and Paterno were both terminated, but McQueary was able to keep his job under the state's whistleblower law. He was put on administrative leave in November, as he has received a number of physical threats for his involvement. 

Images courtesy of Wikimedia, Shutterstock, Gawker, Zuma Press


Whistleblower: Hero or Rat?

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