January 8, 2014

Edward Snowden for James Madison Freedom Award

The American Library Association has given the James Madison Award annually since 1986, “to honor individuals or groups who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.”

It is hard to think of anyone as deserving of this year’s award as Edward Snowden. Champions of the public’s right to know like Snowden do not come along very often. But the government has been so aggressive in painting Snowden as a criminal that ALA’s leadership must be worried that giving the award to him would mean taking a political risk.

Edward Snowden has been nominated for the award. I think it is realistic to hope that ALA will give the award to Edward Snowden, especially after the New York Times’ editorial board went on record supporting him as a whistle-blower at the start of the year.

There are many people who will be disappointed if the award does not go to Snowden this year. He has made great sacrifices in the public interest and deserves to be recognized for it.

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