Rogel Alpher with the Toyota whistleblower Betsy Benjaminson – Journeys



The American-born Japanese-to-English translator made Aliyah more than a decade ago. But it was only after she was hired by Toyota’s defense law firm in 2010 and gained access to thousands of classified documents, that Betsy Benjaminson breached her veil of anonymity. The giant car manufacturer was in the midst of a legal and public relations crisis at the time, having issued a massive recall of millions of vehicles due to recurrent reports of uncontrolled acceleration, some of which resulted in fatalities. The corporation blamed this on floor mats, mechanical problems and driver error – not internal electronics – but the US Congress and government agencies ordered an investigation.

In the course of her work for Toyota, Benjaminson noticed some discrepancy between corporate correspondence and the technical manuals, and became persuaded that the corporation was hiding the truth about what was causing the acceleration defects. After receiving legal advice from a law firm, Benjaminson began to leak the information to the media, thrusting her into the limelight. This is her story.



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Photo credit: Czech Television