Time Names Whistle-Blowers as Persons of The Year
Time Magazine named three women whistle-blowers as its "Persons of the Year." The winners include Enron's Sherron Watkins and WorldCom's Cynthia Cooper, both of whom uncovered massive accounting fraud at their companies.
Ms. Watkins, a former accountant, wrote a blunt 7-page memo to Enron Chairman Kenneth Lay in 2001 that uncovered questionable accounting and warned that the company could "implode in a wave of accounting scandals." Her letter came to light during Congressional investigations after Enron declared bankruptcy.
Ms. Cooper undertook a one-woman crusade within the giant telecommunications company this year after she discovered WorldCom had disguised $3.8 billion in losses through improper accounting.
The third winner is Coleen Rowley, an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In May, she wrote a scathing 13-page memo to FBI Director Robert Muller detailing how supervisors at an FBI field office brushed aside her requests to investigate Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks. Her letter resulted in new inquiries over the intelligence-gathering failures related to the attacks.
The three women beat out other heavy-weight contenders, including President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and New York attorney general Eliot Spitzer. "It came down to did we want to recognize a phenomenon that helped correct some of the problems we've had over the last year and celebrate three ordinary people that did extraordinary things," said Time managing editor Jim Kelly.
Voice of the Editor
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