The trademark "Oscar" for Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) was presented to longtime investigative journalist Seymour Hersh at a dinner in Washington on Sept. 22. The symbolic award is a candle sitting atop the traditional corner-brightener candlestick holder.
SAAII confers its annual award on a member of the intelligence profession or related field who exemplifies the courage, persistence and devotion to truth of Sam Adams, a CIA analyst on Vietnam who exposed lies of the generals in Saigon and was then silenced.
Adams, a descendant of the famed Adams family of the American Revolution, died prematurely at age 55 in 1988, regretting that he had not gone public with his information earlier to stop the slaughter in Vietnam. [To learn more about the organization and previous honorees, go to samadamsaward.ch.]
Hersh, now 80, first came to national prominence in 1969 when he helped expose the massacre of Vietnamese civilians in the village of My Lai. More recently, Hersh revealed the U.S. military's torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in 2004 and, in 2014, debunked Western propaganda that sought to justify a major U.S. military attack on Syria by pinning a sarin-gas attack on the government.
With tensions with North Korea on the front burner, this year's citation was unusually topical. It read:
"The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence presents its INTEGRITY AWARD for 2017 to Seymour M. Hersh -- Know all ye by these presents that Seymour M. Hersh is hereby honored with the traditional Sam Adams Corner-Brightener Candlestick Holder, in symbolic recognition of Mr. Hersh's courage in shining light into dark places.
"It has been said: 'The pen is mightier than the sword.' We are likely to find out soon enough if that is the case.
"Sy Hersh, this year's Sam Adams honoree for integrity, has had the courage to use his unparalleled access to sober-minded senior officials to expose U.S. government misdeeds. This may prove to be a more effective deterrent to President Donald Trump attacking North Korea than the nuclear bombs and missiles at the disposal of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
"How can this be true? Because truth tellers in our national security establishment would tell Sy. And even if Sy's words could appear, at first, only in German, as was the case when Sy exposed Trump's lie about a Syrian Air Force's 'chemical weapons attack' in early April, there is a good chance the world would quickly know -- this time, hopefully, before a U.S. attack 'in retaliation.'
"It seems likely that Trump would be more hesitant to risk having to sit in the war-crime dock at Nuremberg II, than he would be to risk the carnage that an attack on North Korea would bring to the entire peninsula, and beyond. Such is the potential power of the pen. Sy Hersh's pen.
"Presented this 22nd day of September 2017 in Washington, DC, by admirers of the example set by the late CIA analyst, Sam Adams."