Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Guardian and The Washington Post deservedly win a Pulitzer for exceptional work exposing NSA surveillance, but Snowden remains the real hero

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Truly great journalism is rewarded:

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency's surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency's bulk collection of US citizens' phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

But of course the journalists, Glenn Greenwald and others, could only do what they did because of Snowden:

Snowden, in a statement, said: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance."

And yet while these two newspapers and the journalists who work (or worked) for them receive a prestigious award for their hard work, however well-deserved, Snowden remains stuck in Russia, unable to travel anywhere else because the U.S. won't allow it, with the federal government more interested in persecuting him than giving him a fair hearing (just consider how whistleblowers are treated), called a traitor even by many on the left back home for daring to expose the government's illegal activities (and for many because Obama is the president), attacked from the right and other corners of the national security state, and otherwise denied from being treated the way he deserves to be treated... which is, as I see it, a truly heroic patriot who performed an extraordinary service for the American people, however ungrateful many of them are.

If there any justice at all in this matter, he would be welcomed home with open arms, a courageous whistleblower who blew the lid off a ubiquitous and out-of-control surveillance state that undermines the very essence of American democracy.

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