Los Angeles Times

Unpatriotic? Whistleblowers have been speaking up, and suffering the consequences, from the beginning

WASHINGTON - It was 1777. The Revolutionary War was raging, and a small band of officers and seamen in the Continental Navy faced a dangerous dilemma.

Their commodore was one of the most powerful men in colonial America. But his subordinates had seen him engage in "barbarous" mistreatment - torture, in their eyes - of captured British sailors.

Eleven years before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, the 10 worried sailors became the new republic's first whistleblowers, reporting what they had witnessed to the Continental Congress - and getting legal protection to shield them from retribution.

"Whistleblowing is really in America's DNA - it's as American as apple pie," said Allison Stanger, a political scientist at Middlebury College whose book on the subject was published the same day last month that House

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