The winners for this year's Hugh M. Hefner Foundation First Amendment Awards were announced today and – lo and behold – GAP’s own National Security & Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack has been honored! Radack is co-winner in the government category with Thomas Drake, National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower and GAP client. Radack and Drake are being acknowledged for their critical work exposing national security hypocrisy and abuses.
The Foundation has been giving out the First Amendment Awards since 1980, honoring those who have made contributions to the protections afforded under the First Amendment. Radack and Drake join an impressive rank of winners, including the likes of Walter Karp, Studs Terkel, Cecile Richards, Michael Moore, John Seigenthaler, Bill Maher, and Molly Ivins.
Drake, of course, blew the whistle on fraud, waste, and abuse within the NSA and was rewarded by being prosecuted under the Espionage Act, a tactic the Obama administration has now used six times against intelligence whistleblowers – more than all previous administrations combined. Radack, herself a Department of Justice whistleblower, represented Drake on whistleblower issues and played a vital role in winning his case in the court of public opinion.
This isn’t the first time Drake and Radack have been recognized for their work. They won the Sam Adams Award, presented by the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence late last year. Drake was also the winner of the 2011 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling, largely considered the most prestigious award for whistleblowers.
Other winners include:
- Zachary Kopplin, a Louisiana high school student who led the effort to repeal the states Science Education Act, which promoted the teaching of creationism in schools
- Rebecca MacKinnon, for her book Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle for Internet Freedom
- Pablo Alvarado, a workers rights advocate who challenged the ordinances preventing California day laborers from soliciting work on city sidewalks
- Stanley Sheinbaum, who is receiving a lifetime achievement award for his work in a number of important issues like economic justice, police reform, and world peace
The awards ceremony will take place this coming Monday at the Playboy Mansion.
Every reminder of the importance of the protections the First Amendment provides is a valuable one. GAP wholeheartedly thanks the Hugh M. Hefner Foundation, and congratulates Radack and Drake.
Hannah Johnson is Communications Associate for the Government Accountability Project, the nation's leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.