POGO congratulates the recipients of the sixth annual Ron Ridenhour Prizes, who will be honored tomorrow at a luncheon at the National Press Club. The event is sold out, but you can watch a live webcast on the Ridenhour website beginning at 12:00 P.M.
This year's Truth Telling Prize, awarded for "bringing a specific issue of social importance to the public's attention," goes to Thomas Tamm, a former Justice Department lawyer who courageously blew the whistle on the NSA's illegal domestic surveillance program, at great risk to himself, his family, and his career. Tamm tipped off The New York Times from a metro payphone in 2004; eighteen months later, the Times story on warrantless wiretapping won a Pulitzer Prize. In 2007, FBI officials searched Tamm's home and have relentlessly attempted to build a case against him by going after his family, friends, and colleagues. Today, Tamm is still being prosecuted, as there is no "authorized avenue for a national security whistleblower to use and receive protection when they challenge the Executive Branch for breaking the law."
Next up, the Ridenhour Book Prize, honoring an "outstanding work of social significance from the prior publishing year," and also recognizing "investigative and reportorial distinction," goes to Jane Mayer, author of the critically acclaimed The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into A War on American Ideals. Mayer's book delves into the decisions made by the Bush administration following the September 11 attacks that furthered political agendas while violating the Constitution. Mayer is currently a writer for The New Yorker, having previously written for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and the New York Review of Books.
This year's recipient of the Ridenhour Courage Prize, "presented in recognition of courageous and life-long defense of the public interest and passionate commitment to social justice," is award-winning investigative journalist Bob Herbert. Herbert began with The Star-Ledger in Newark in 1970, and continued on to become a reporter at the New York Daily News, a founding member of Sunday Edition, a host of Hotline, as well as a national correspondent on NBC from 1991 to 1993. He is currently an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, covering topics such as sexual assault against women in the military, and is the author of Promises Betrayed: Waking Up from the American Dream.
A special Prize this year, the Prize for Reportorial Distinction, is awarded to Nick Turse for his "investigations into the systemic atrocities of the Vietnam War." In an article for The Nation, Turse proved that My Lai was only the tip of the iceberg for Army cover-ups, and has authored numerous books on military corruption.
Established by the Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation in 2005, in partnership with POGO, the Fund for Constitutional Government, and the Government Accountability Project, the Ridenhour Prizes seek “to recognize those who persevere in acts of truth-telling that protect the public interest, promote social justice or illuminate a more just vision of society.” The Prizes are dedicated in honor of Ron Ridenhour, a whistleblower and journalist who fearlessly sought to expose corruption and scandal, beginning with his letter to Congress in 1969 exposing the horrendous My Lai massacre in Vietnam.
As always, POGO looks forward to honoring our fellow citizens who selflessly strive to promote liberty and justice, and we applaud the courage and dedication of each recipient.
-- Gracie Bowden