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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, December 28, 2002

Whistle-blowers earn national honor, acclaim

At one point, Time simply called it "Man of the Year."

Well, the annual tribute to the year's biggest newsmaker has come a long way, baby.

It's now "Person of the Year," except this year it works out to be "Persons of the Year," because the magazine honored three high-profile whistle-blowers: Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom, Coleen Rowley of the FBI and Sherron Watkins of Enron.

Each of these three women faced great personal risk by stepping forward to blow the whistle on wrongdoing as they saw it. And this is no abstract fear: According to a recent Chicago Tribune editorial, the National Whistleblower Center in Washington found that most whistle-blowers face some sort of retaliation for reporting wrongdoing.

Let's hope that the spotlight of Time's cover will make such retaliation tougher in the future. Whistleblowers such as Cooper, Rowley and Watkins are often our last line of defense.