Julia Wick is a native Angeleno who writes about literature, Los Angeles, and cities. She is currently finishing an Urban Planning degree at USC.
With Chelsea Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison and Edward Snowden’s future still uncertain, it seems a pertinent time to look at what becomes of our whistleblowers after the initial flurry of publicity fades. On the public stage and popular culture, whistleblowers are both celebrated and reviled, categorized as snitches and traitors, and heroes and martyrs. They are almost always seen as symbols, but they are also often people whose lives are shattered. The U.S. has had some version of whistleblower protection laws on the books since 1778, but whistleblowers themselves have still often faced reprisal, have been left jobless and hounded, personally attacked and professionally discredited. Here are the stories of six famous whistleblowers, and their lives long after the press has picked up and left town.