Edward Snowden has been named recipient of this year's award for truth telling given by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, the group announced today.
Most of the Sam Adams Associates are former senior national security officials who, with the other members, understand fully the need to keep legitimate secrets. Each of the U.S. members took a solemn oath "to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."
When secrecy is misused to hide unconstitutional activities, fealty to that oath - and higher duty as citizens of conscience - dictate support for truth tellers who summon the courage to blow the whistle. Edward Snowden's disclosures fit the classic definition of whistle blowing.
Former senior NSA executive Thomas Drake, who won the Sam Adams award in 2011, has called what Snowden did "an amazingly brave act of civil disobedience." Drake knows whereof he speaks. As a whistleblower he reported waste, fraud, and abuse - as well as serious violations of the Fourth Amendment - through official channels and, subsequently, to a reporter. He wound up indicted under the Espionage Act.
After a lengthy, grueling pre-trial proceeding, he was exonerated of all ten felony charges and pleaded out to the misdemeanor of "exceeding authorized use of a government computer." The presiding judge branded the four years of prosecutorial conduct against Drake "unconscionable."
The invective hurled at Snowden by the corporate and government influenced media reflects understandable embarrassment that he would dare expose the collusion of all three branches of government in perpetrating and then covering up their abuse of the Constitution. This same collusion has thwarted all attempts to pass laws that would protect genuine truth tellers like Snowden who see and wish to stop unconstitutional activities.
"These are the times that try men's souls," warned Thomas Paine in 1776, adding that "The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
It is in this spirit that Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence are proud to confer on Edward Snowden the Sam Adams Award for 2013.
The Sam Adams Award has been given in previous years to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance; former US Army Sgt. at Abu Ghraib; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; Julian Assange of WikiLeaks; Thomas Drake, former senior NSA official; Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security and Human Rights, Government Accountability Project; and Thomas Fingar, former Assistant Secretary of State and Director, National Intelligence Council.
Daniel Ellsberg comments on the award:
What [Snowden] has given us is our best chance - if we respond to his information and his challenge - to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.
Veteran CIA analyst Ray McGovern has this to say:
There is a way out for President Barack Obama as he attempts to cope with Edward Snowden's disclosures about the National Security Agency's overreaching eavesdropping, the turbulent world reaction, and the lack of truthfulness shown by National Intelligence Director James Clapper and NSA Director Keith Alexander. The President should seize the initiative by suggesting to both that they spend more time with their families.