Nice Guys Finish Last
Case Studies of Prominent
Whistle Blowers


Challenger Shuttle Disaster –

Dr. Roger Boisjoly: Design engineer with Morton-Thiokol who identified a design defect in O-Ring Seals.  He notified the Morton-Thiokol management.  His whistle-blowing of this fact proved that Morton-Thiokol had prior knowledge of the defect and the attendant risks when they agreed with NASA to proceed with the cold weather launch.

Steven Agee: Management Consultant hired by Morton-Thiokol to review management procedures after the disaster.  Agee identified 245 problems with the Booster Rockets, but Morton-Thiokol hid data, systematically chose waivers rather than solutions, and suppressed hazard analysis findings.


Police Corruption – Australia

Officer Gordon Harris: Police officer who exposed a senior police officer who fabricated evidence to get a false conviction.


Alieska Oil Pipeline – Joint Venture of BP, ARCO, and EXXON

Chuck Hamel: Oil Broker

Glenn Plumlee: Pipeline inspector who testified that Alieska cut corners in pipeline, disconnected air pollution equipment, and cut corners on water treatment in Valdez Harbor Strike unfavorable words from reports, e.g. faulty, violation, etc.


Hanford Nuclear Weapons Facility

Ed Bricker: Nuclear Process Operator who disclosed safety and waste disposal practices that placed the public at risk and much cost.  He testified that the government dusted off old facility and tried to run it from a priority of production first and safety second

Inez Austin: Nuclear Engineer.  When management asked her to write report that a process would be safe, she refused to do so in face of 444 billion gallons of radioactive and toxic material, aging tanks leaking liquids and vapors


What tactics did the object of the Whistle Blower use?

Threaten, and warn the Whistle Blower to be very cautious
Followed around within and outside the facility.
Spied upon by colleagues
Colleague was blackmailed
Whistle Blowers sent to psychiatrists to justify finding that Whistle Blower is unfit to work
Undercover agents hired to spy on Whistle Blowers
Wackenhut Corp. to trick, entrap Whistle Blowers
Internal phone records searched to identify any insiders calling Whistle Blower
Telephone call records of Whistle Blower
Credit Reports
Call Whistle Blowers' house repeatedly through the night to deprive sleep and rest
Whistle Blowers checks bounce for no apparent reason
Whistle Blowers' mail intercepted
Whistle Blowers' FAXes to authorities not going through
Harass the Whistle Blowers' families
              Obscene phone calls
              Death threat calls
Friends abandon them, for fear of losing their own careers
Children harassed
Management keeps the issue alive in all staff meetings to identify others inside who may think like the Whistle Blower
Stealing Whistle Blowers' trash

How did these tactics affect the Whistle Blowers?

Can't find work in their career field
Live in fear
Must go under cover and steal evidence to support claims
Labeled as a trouble maker, and crazy
Go broke financially
Self doubt appears
Become a non-person
Nothing happens to the “Bad Guys”
            They lie, cheat, steal, and cover up,
            They get promotions/pay raises

Closet Patriots would do “right thing” if they could, but unwilling to take the retribution

What lessons can we draw from these cases?

The retribution is so consistent in these cases, that IT MUST BE TAUGHT!

Total ostracism
Loss of job/career
Take away any implements for job returning

Might makes right

Money is no object
Throw everything at the Whistle Blower to wear them down, to destroy them.
Use money to keep the issues from ever getting to court
Can't allow lawsuits to proceed because of the
precedent that the suits would set

Must be prepared to go it alone

Even if others agree with the Whistleblower, few are willing to say so on the record
To do so makes them a Whistleblower as well

No where to run in the whole world.


Copyright 2005-2007 Richard Cheeks
All Rights Reserved