On Saturday, during the press conference announcing Wikileaks’ release of nearly 400,000 classified US military field documents relating to the war in Iraq, Craig Murray, the human rights activist and former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, accompanied by Daniel Ellsberg (the Pentagon Papers whistleblower), presented Wikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, and the entire Wikileaks organization, with the 2010 Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award. SAAII is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who provided information that prevented a deadly troop escalation during the Vietnam War, and, as the members of SAAII have explained, they “hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.”
Largely overlooked in the scrum of media reporting about the release of the documents, the presentation of the award in London on Saturday saw Assange and Wikileaks join a distinguished group of former winners honored for having “the courage to speak truth to power.” Moreover, when Assange was told earlier this year that he would be this year’s recipient, he made a point of stating that he could only accept it on behalf of the unknown sources who have risked their careers, and their freedom, to reveal the information. “I am proud to be in such company, but, permit me to accept the award on behalf of our sources, without which Wikileaks’ contributions are of no significance,” Assange said.
Below is the Award Citation for the presentation of the 2010 Sam Adams Award to Julian Assange and Wikileaks. A version of this article was published by Ray McGovern of SAAII on Consortium News.
Sam Adams Award for 2010 to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year’s award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression “Fourth Estate.” Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said: “but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far then they all.”
The year was 1787 — the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.
With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.
It has been said: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie.
Last spring, when we chose WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for this award, Julian said he would accept only “on behalf of our sources, without which WikiLeaks’ contributions are of no significance.”
We do not know if Pvt. Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks the gun-barrel video of July 12, 2007 called “Collateral Murder.” Whoever did provide that graphic footage, showing the brutality of the celebrated “surge” in Iraq, was certainly far more a patriot than the “mainstream” journalist embedded in that same Army unit. He suppressed what happened in Baghdad that day, dismissed it as simply “one bad day in a surge that was filled with such days,” and then had the temerity to lavish praise on the unit in a book he called The Good Soldiers.
Julian is right to emphasize that the world is deeply indebted to patriotic truth-tellers like the sources who provided the gun-barrel footage and the many documents on Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. We hope to have a chance to honor them in person in the future.
Today we honor WikiLeaks, and one of its leaders, Julian Assange, for their ingenuity in creating a new highway by which important documentary evidence can make its way, quickly and confidentially, through the ether and into our in-boxes. Long live the Fifth Estate!
About Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, and the Annual Award
Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.
Sam did precisely that, and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a lamp lighter exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth — no matter the consequences.
It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were 500,000 Vietnamese Communists under arms — more than twice the number that our military in Saigon would admit to in the “war of attrition.” Gen. William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number that Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. And in a cable to Washington, Gen. Creighton Abrams warned that if Adams’ numbers leaked to the press, this would weaken the war effort.
Westmoreland’s figures were shown to be bogus in January/ February 1968, when Communist troops mounted a surprise countrywide offensive in numbers that proved that Adams’ analysis had been correct. But because Sam was reluctant to go “outside channels,” the CIA and Army were able to keep the American people in the dark. After the Tet offensive, however, Daniel Ellsberg learned that Westmoreland had asked for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam — right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond. In his first such act, Ellsberg leaked Sam Adams’ data to the then-independent New York Times on March 19, 1968. Dan’s timely truth telling won the day.
On March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us … We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request and the leaks … I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.” On March 31, Johnson stopped the bombing, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term.
Sam Adams continued to press for honesty and accountability but stayed “inside channels” — and failed. He was not able to see that the supervening value of ending unnecessary killing trumped the secrecy agreement he had signed as a condition of employment. Nagged by remorse, Adams died at 55 of a sudden heart attack. He could not shake the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled, the entire left wall of the Vietnam memorial would not exist. There would have been no new names to chisel into such a wall.
The annual Sam Adams Award has been given to the following truth tellers:
– Coleen Rowley of the FBI (in Washington, D.C.)
– Katharine Gun of British Intelligence (in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Sibel Edmonds of the FBI (in Washington, D.C.)
– Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan (in New York)
– Sam Provance, former Sgt, US Army, truth teller about Abu Ghraib (in Washington, D.C.)
– Frank Grevil, Major, Danish Army Intelligence, imprisoned for giving the Danish press documents showing that Denmark’s Prime Minister (now NATO Secretary General) disregarded warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq (in Copenhagen, Denmark)
– Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Secretary Colin Powell at the State Department, who exposed the powers behind many of the crimes of the Bush administration — first and foremost what he called the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal” (in Washington, D.C.)
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the USand the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed(and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
From the archives: