Leak: The Pentagon Papers (1969)
He is the über whistleblower, the one against which all others are measured. An economics Ph.D. and analyst for the Rand Corporation, Ellsberg shared 7,000 pages of classified documents with The New York Times showing how three presidential administrations and the military lied about the Vietnam War. Facing a sentence of 115 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act, Ellsberg avoided prison time after the Nixon administration bugged his psychiatrist's office and the judge declared a mistrial. The Supreme Court case based on his actions, New York Times Co. v. the United States, established the right of newspapers to reveal government secrets without fear of censorship or retribution.