|Edward Snowden illustration by Jeremie Lederman|
Over the last five years, America has been awakening to the harsh realities of government over reach. While the abuse of federal and even corporate power is nothing new, the recent abuses of civil rights has been alarming. These abuses often result in the violation of law and even long standing constitutional protections. The more we learn about the programs being used against us, the more we discover the ongoing subterfuge built around keeping them secret. However, secrets eventually get exposed by individuals who simply can't remain silent.
We know these individuals by many names, but they are primarily know as 'whistleblowers.' These people face ridicule, financial ruin, character assassination and often death for exposing secrets. A whistleblower is an individual that steps out into the public and shines a light on highly guarded information.
For many people, names like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden seem to represent something very new. However, as long as there have been secrets, there have been whistleblowers. Despite the horrendous persecution and prosecution these people have faced, they have been disrupting secret plans for centuries.
While you may be uncertain if they are 'patriots,' 'traitors', or a complicated mix of both, their stories are unforgettable.
Lederman Studio gives you:
4 FAMOUS WHISTLEBLOWERS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Exposed a high ranking officer's war crimes
Midshipman Samuel Shaw was an officer in the Continental Navy during the Revolutionary War. He and Third Lieutenant Richard Marven exposed the tottering of British POWs by the Commander in Chief of the Navy, Commodore Eske Hopkins.
The Continental Congress enacted the first whistleblower protections into law on July 30th, 1778. The vote was unanimous and they even went so far as to decent these two officers against a libel suit by Commodore Hopkins.
This story is worthy of an entire motion picture, and this post will barely scratch the surface. In a nutshell, Butler was approached by members of corporate and financial institutions to lead a fascist coup d'état against President Roosevelt. They intended to overthrow the representative republic of America and reframe it into a system that benefited the business and banking industries.
Butler went before the U.S. House of Representative and exposed the entire plot. He later wrote about this conspiracy in his famous novel "War is a Racket."
The conspiracy is called 'The Business Plot,' and remains a highly contested story to this day. Everyone from The New York Times to members of Congress vacillated between giving this plot credibility to calling it a gigantic hoax. None the less, Butler was always a deeply respected and influential figure. The House Committee found Butler's allegations credible, but nobody was ever called in to testify.
Peter Buxton is the man who exposed the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment. In 1932, The U.S. Public Health Service infected poor black sharecroppers with Syphilis. They told the citizens that they were getting free medical treatment and immunization shots. In return, the men they infected were given free medical care, food, and burial insurance. However, at no time were these men told that they were being deliberately infected with Syphilis nor given any treatment to cure it. The goal of the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment was to study the natural progression of untreated syphilis in rural black men.
Edward Kennedy called a Congressional Hearing where officials were made to testify. The outcry from the public was far stronger than that from the medical industry and the study was cancelled. Laws were created to regulate human medical experimentation, and eventually, the government paid 9 million to survivors. In 1997, Bill Clinton personally apologized to the 8 survivors of those experiments.
The subject of the 1999 film "The Insider"
The tobacco industry had testified before congress that is did not manipulate the content of cigarettes or add anything that might contribute to nicotine addition. The 'blank check' and endless resources behind the tobacco industry proved a daunting roadblock to prosecution, investigation, or establishing accountability. Jeffrey broke his silence by appearing on 60 Minutes to testify before the public that Brown & Williamson had intentionally manipulated its tobacco blend to increase the amount of nicotine in cigarette smoke.
THE RESULT:The entire industry was set upon by the government and public, resulting in a multi-billion dollar settlement.