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Ross: Ignoring whistleblowers is nothing new for America

Former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey is surrounded by reporters after testifying to the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees at the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 07, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Long before the whistle blew on Donald Trump’s Ukraine conversation, Tom Mueller was working on his new book about whistleblowers. He interviewed 200 of them, including the five who tried to alert the NSA to a flaw in its terrorist surveillance system before 9-11.

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“And they went through channels, they followed all the procedures, well, they were handed over to the FBI who pointed guns at their faces and who subjected them to an extended judicial retaliation,” Mueller said.

It ended their careers, and, Mueller claims, may have allowed 9-11 to happen.

Fast forward to the people who tried to warn Boeing that defective software had made its way into the cockpit.

“If they had listened to those 12 anonymous whistleblowers who called the FAA whistleblower hotline, this disaster might not have happened,” Mueller pointed out.

Mueller also wrote that Donald Trump, as a candidate, actually spoke in the language of a whistleblower until he was elected. He ended up firing a real whisteblower — James Comey — and now, of course, wants the Ukraine whistleblower punished.

However, Mueller’s book, titled “Crisis of Conscience”, is not about Trump. It’s about what happens to organizations that punish the messenger because they can’t handle the truth. And it shows that America’s history of ignoring warnings from whistleblowers is nothing new.

To quote the heading of his final chapter, “The Banana Republic Wasn’t Built in a Day.”

You can hear Dave’s commentary every morning on Seattle’s Morning News. Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5-9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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