Doug Bedell — January 15, 2020, 11:16 am

What Makes a Whistleblower?

What’s involved in the role of a whistleblower? Frustration first, then resolve to see a nasty situation through – these, advises Erik Kleinsmith of American University and a onetime whistleblower himself – are key elements in going public with a revelation of tawdry doings.

Posting on In Homeland Security, Kleinsmith explains that, in deciding whether to become a whistleblower, “the reality of speaking up to reveal, stop, or fix a grievous wrong must be weighed against the risks of intense personal scrutiny and reprisals — the extreme of which could include physical threats. The good news is there are some ways to prepare yourself to make and carry out your decision.”

Kleinsmith goes on to discuss whistleblower rules, such as using the proper reporting channels, being prepared for challenges, not expecting anonymity and not leaking classified material. This latter “is illegal, no matter how righteous the cause.”

“By sticking to these simple rules, whistleblowers can better arm themselves against those who would attack the messenger. If you make the difficult decision to become a whistleblower, remember your objective is to keep the focus on the problem you’re exposing as opposed to making yourself part of the problem.”

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