ACLU’s Baldwin Awards for Three Whistle-blowers
A video feed from Moscow brought Edward Snowden to the annual ACLU of Massachusetts Bill of Rights dinner in Boston last month. Mr. Snowden’s face was projected on two big screens behind the podium used by the speakers who weren’t experiencing the “travel difficulties” that Mr. Snowden jokingly noted had kept him from attending the dinner in person. Mr. Snowden was smart, funny, relaxed and articulate - all characteristics that seemed a far cry from the dangerous criminal espionage perpetrator the U.S. government has portrayed him to be.
Mr. Snowden preceded three other whistle-blowers, Daniel Ellsberg, Thomas Drake and Cathy Harris whom the ACLU honored at that event with the Baldwin Award, named for the Massachusetts native and ACLU founder, Roger Baldwin. Ellsberg, as those of us of a certain age will likely recall, was the man Henry Kissinger described as “the most dangerous man in America” after he leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Thomas Drake, a former NSA executive, blew the whistle in 2007 on the NSA’s unconstitutional, wasteful and costly data mining system after that agency cavalierly discarded a comparatively inexpensive and effective alternative that could have protected us from unwarranted surveillance. Cathy Harris, a former U.S. Customs Service worker, blew the whistle on racial profiling at the TSA and the U.S. Customs Service, and the degrading abuses the victims of such profiling were forced to endure.
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