External Professor Allison Stanger’s book Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump is garnering significant media attention, published as it was on September 24, the same day an impeachment inquiry was launched against President Trump based on an anonymous whistleblower’s complaint.

Stanger’s book provides historical perspective on the role of whistleblowing in American democracy, where whistleblowers expose corrupt, illegal, or unconstitutional acts. The volume details a series of whistleblowing events, from the persecution that led to the first whistleblower protection law in 1778, through Edward Snowden’s story, to the present imbroglio involving Trump.

“Whistleblowing is really in America’s DNA — it’s as American as apple pie,” Stanger told The Los Angeles Times.

As Stanger’s book reveals whistleblowing as a vital safeguard to the rule of law, it also details how personally costly it can be to the whistleblowers themselves. A common attack on whistleblowers is to attempt to discredit them or the information they expose. In her op-ed for The Washington Post, Stanger describes how this tactic is playing out in the current proceedings. She also draws an important distinction between whistleblowers and “leakers” who expose secrets that don’t necessarily amount to misconduct.

“Regardless of political affiliation,” Stanger wrote, “Americans need to focus on the shocking substance of the information being revealed and insist that genuine whistleblowers — judged by the content of their complaints rather than their motives or the consequences they suffer — be both celebrated and protected.”

A member of SFI’s external faculty, Stanger is also the Russell Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics at Middlebury College, Technology and Human Values Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, and Cybersecurity Fellow at New America.

Her book Whistleblowers: Honesty in America from Washington to Trump (Yale University Press, 2019) is available through Amazon and Yale University Press.

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