Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, an organization of former national security officials, has honored NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, praising his decision to reveal the extent of U.S. government electronic surveillance of people in the United States and around the world.
Edward Snowden, an ex-contractor for the National Security Agency, has been named recipient of this year's award for truth-telling given by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, the group announced Monday.
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."
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. 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.
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 the U.S. 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, named in honor of the late CIA analyst Sam Adams, 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 U.S. Army Sergeant at Abu Ghraib; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Colonel, U.S. 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.
Editor's Note: Further helping to explain why Snowden should be honored for his brave actions -- and responding to some of the criticism of his decisions from the mainstream news media -- are: Daniel Ellsberg's op-ed in The Washington Post, "Snowden Made the Right Call When He Fled the US" and Ray McGovern's "Obama Needs to Take Charge on NSA Spying Scandal."
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence was established in 2002 by colleagues and admirers of the late CIA intelligence analyst Sam Adams to recognize those who uphold his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. In honoring Adams's memory, SAAII confers an award each year to someone in intelligence or related work who exemplifies Sam Adam's courage, persistence, and devotion to truth -- no matter the consequences.
It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms. This was roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of "progress" were bogus.