Edward Snowden Wins ‘Truth-Teller’ Award

Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, a Snowden confidant, will also be jointly recognized by the Ridenhour Prizes.

National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
April 7, 2014, 4:41 a.m.

Hero or trait­or, Ed­ward Snowden can now add one thing to his re­sume: award-win­ner.

The former Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency con­tract­or-turned-fu­git­ive will be awar­ded the 2014 Riden­hour Truth-Telling Prize for his role in ex­pos­ing in­tim­ate de­tails of the gov­ern­ment’s sweep­ing sur­veil­lance pro­grams, the awards com­mit­tee an­nounced Monday. Doc­u­ment­ary film­maker Laura Poitras, a Snowden con­fid­ant who has helped dis­sem­in­ate the top-secret gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments the fu­git­ive ab­sconded with last year, was jointly re­cog­nized.

“We have se­lec­ted Ed­ward Snowden and Laura Poitras for their work in ex­pos­ing the NSA’s il­leg­al and un­con­sti­tu­tion­al bulk col­lec­tion of the com­mu­nic­a­tions of mil­lions of people liv­ing in the United States,” the Riden­hour se­lec­tion com­mit­tee said in a state­ment. “Their act of cour­age was un­der­taken at great per­son­al risk and has sparked a crit­ic­al and trans­form­at­ive de­bate about mass sur­veil­lance in a coun­try where pri­vacy is con­sidered a con­sti­tu­tion­al right.”

Snowden, who has also been nom­in­ated this year for the No­bel Peace Prize, is a nat­ur­al choice for the left-lean­ing group, which has honored in re­cent years journ­al­ist and un­doc­u­mented im­mig­rant Jose Ant­o­nio Var­gas and Thomas Drake, a former NSA of­fi­cial who also ex­posed secrets kept by the spy agency. The awards are named for Ron Riden­hour, a Vi­et­nam vet­er­an who helped ex­pose the mas­sacre of hun­dreds of un­armed ci­vil­ians by U.S. sol­diers at My Lai in 1968.

The 30-year-old com­puter tech­ni­cian achieved overnight no­tori­ety in June of last year, when ma­jor pub­lic­a­tions around the world began pub­lish­ing top-secret NSA doc­u­ments he down­loaded while work­ing for gov­ern­ment con­tract­or Booz Al­len Hamilton in Hawaii. Shortly be­fore the leaks began, Snowden fled the coun­try for Hong Kong and, even­tu­ally, Rus­sia, where he cur­rently re­mains un­der tem­por­ary asylum.

While in Hong Kong, Snowden met with Poitras and journ­al­ist Glenn Gre­en­wald to hand over thou­sands of his secret files, the open­ing move in what snow­balled in­to a year­long in­ter­na­tion­al de­bate over the prop­er role of gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance. Snowden’s leaks have been widely cred­ited with for­cing Pres­id­ent Obama and Con­gress to con­sider and im­ple­ment pending re­forms to the NSA’s spy pro­grams.

As much fan­fare as Snowden has at­trac­ted since his NSA leaks first sur­faced, he has also earned heavy con­dem­na­tion from pro­ponents of a force­ful, agile in­tel­li­gence com­munity. House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mike Ro­gers has per­haps been Snowden’s most vo­cal crit­ic, hav­ing fre­quently de­rided him as a “trait­or” who has jeop­ard­ized na­tion­al se­cur­ity by dis­clos­ing clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment secrets. The Michigan Re­pub­lic­an has also sug­ges­ted that Snowden’s cur­rent res­id­ency in­dic­ates he could be op­er­at­ing as a spy for Rus­si­an Pres­id­ent Vladi­mir Putin.

Snowden’s win­ning of the Riden­hour award co­in­cides with his in­creased will­ing­ness to main­tain a vis­ible, pub­lic pro­file, even as his where­abouts in Rus­sia re­main a mys­tery. After sev­er­al months of stay­ing be­low the radar — even as a breath­less de­luge of stor­ies made pos­sible by his leaks con­tin­ued — Snowden has re­mained rel­ev­ant in 2014 by par­ti­cip­at­ing in on­line dis­cus­sions and ap­pear­ances via video stream at ma­jor con­fer­ences, such as SX­SW.

On Sat­urday, Snowden again ap­peared via video to a crowd at­tend­ing Am­nesty In­ter­na­tion­al’s an­nu­al hu­man-rights meet­ing in Chica­go to again warn of the po­ten­tial dangers of gov­ern­ment col­lec­tion of tele­phone and In­ter­net “metadata,” a con­ver­sa­tion that Gre­en­wald joined — also by web­cast — from Brazil.

Poitras, a Ma­cAr­thur “Geni­us Grant” re­cip­i­ent, is be­lieved to be one of only two people, along with Gre­en­wald, with ac­cess to the com­plete trove of Snowden files. She has been vo­cally crit­ic­al of post-9/11 gov­ern­ment sur­veil­lance.

While not­ing its ap­pre­ci­ation for Gre­en­wald and oth­er journ­al­ists who have helped lift the veil on the NSA’s spy­ing prac­tices, the Riden­hour com­mit­tee said it “wanted to sa­lute the role that Poitras has played in this story, as we feel that her con­tri­bu­tion has not been ad­equately re­cog­nized by the Amer­ic­an me­dia.”

Snowden and Poitras will be awar­ded the Riden­hour Prize for Truth-Telling on April 30 at the Na­tion­al Press Club in Wash­ing­ton, though it is un­likely either will at­tend. Snowden faces im­me­di­ate ar­rest if he steps foot on Amer­ic­an soil, and Poitras cur­rently resides in Ber­lin.

What We're Following See More »
ON THE CALL: “AT LEAST THAT WAS SACRED”
Gen. Kelly Rips Rep. Wilson for Criticism
9 hours ago
THE LATEST
GOP FORMER PRES V. GOP CURRENT PRES
Bush Slams Trump, Implicitly
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS
AMENDMENT WOULD HAVE PREVENTED CONSIDERATION
Senate Rejects Effort to Nix SALT Tax Changes
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which helps many residents of California and other high-cost states reduce their federal income tax bills. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 52-47 to reject an amendment that would have prevented the Senate from considering any bill that repeals or limits the deduction as part of a planned tax overhaul."

Source:
MEETING WITH SENATE GOP
Trump to Hill Next Tuesday
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS
INTERVIEWED BY COMMITTEE STAFF
Lewandowski Meets with Senate Intelligence Committee
15 hours ago
THE LATEST

"President Donald Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski appeared on Capitol Hill for a closed-door interview with the Senate intelligence committee Wednesday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Lewandowski is the latest senior official in Trump's orbit who has met with the committee as part of its investigation into Russian election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login