Snowden Awarded Truth-Telling Prize, But Not Everyone’s Behind It

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When Edward Snowden released top secret NSA documents to the pubic, he set off a scandal over surveillance and privacy issues that’s still being contended with today. At the time, some criticized him for being un-American, disloyal, or for putting American security at risk. Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the NSA, even spoke on the matter in response to Snowden at a TED talk in March, stating that “he put people’s lives at risk.” Others have said the equivalent of “give that man a medal!”

Well, regardless of how you feel about his politics, Snowden did indeed receive a medal at the end of last month — 0r more accurately an award, specifically the Ridenhour prize for Truth-Telling. It was given to him alongside Laura Poitras, the journalist who aided him in the release of the documents and coverage of the NSA surveillance issue. The ceremony, held in Washington D.C., acknowledged the controversial nature of their choice in candidates.

“I know a number of members of the extended right in our family are uncomfortable with our next award. But the Ridenhour prizes have always dealt with difficult issues and dealing with difficult issues is, frankly, difficult,” said one member of the committee in announcing the winners, going on to explain their decision to acknowledge the work of both Poitras and Snowden.

James Bamford also spoke at the ceremony, writer of The Puzzle Palace, which is “widely recognized as perhaps the most knowledgeable journalist to report on the NSA.” Bamford spoke of Laura Poitras’ “weapon,” namely her video camera, referring to her work as a documentary maker in the Middle East, and eventually hit on her work regarding the NSA. Poitras’ involvement was especially vital, as some say she is not given the credit she deserves for her involvement in the document’s release.

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