A Poulitzer Tainted in Blood and Carved in Repression

Last month, it was announced that Guardian US would share the Poulitzer prize with the Washington Post for Glenn Greenwald's sensationalization of the NSA's perfectly-legal national security programs, including on the collection of metdata.

Almost immediately following that announcement, and mere weeks after Snowden's sit down with his protectorate Vladimir Putin to ask about whether or not Russia conducts mass surveillance inside its borders, Putin signed a law to register all bloggers and criminalize the very type of journalism Snowden and his friends in the international anti-American syndicate have claimed a right to:

Bloggers (as defined) are reminded of a long list of prohibitions that already apply to all citizens: that it is forbidden to use a blog to carry out crimes, to disseminate information involving a state secret, to disseminate content of an extremist nature, and so on.

In essence, Russia has banned the exact freedoms of the press and speech Snowden and Greenwald used to disclose classified information from the United States.

Snowden rests in the comfort of protections of the the same government that is brutally invading its neighbors and silencing its own citizens. Everything he does, and every award Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and their cohorts receive while defending Snowden's shelter in Russia is tainted with the blood of every journalist silenced or killed under the Putin regime.

Some might say that I have contracted the guilt-by-association disease, that Putin's behavior does not negate the importance of the NSA leaks. And the leaks themselves (as an act of treason) and its reporting may well not be tainted by Russia and Putin's horrific record on free speech, free press and state surveillance and repression. But journalism itself is.

But every profession - especially one held in such a high regard as journalism - has to be first and foremost guided by its ethics. If a government condoned and facilitated medical research by the means of mass experimentation on human subjects without their consent, it would be proper for the Nobel committee to take a step back before considering awarding the Nobel prize in medicine to a medical researcher who is paid by or has only avoided prosecution by taking refuge under the protection of that government. Because such an award would send the signal that medical ethics and human morality are irrelevant in research.

In the same way, when so-called journalists who defend not simply their source's right to reveal the information they reported on but also to evade the consequences of their actions by seeking and accepting shelter from a regime that brutally and bloodily represses the free press are given prestigious awards, it is entirely right to raise questions about the ethics not simply of those journalists but of the awarding entity. Saying that the award only pertains to the reporting about NSA's activities (which was pretty horrendous in and of itself) and not the journalists' behavior related to it is no excuse.

Snowden is not a prisoner in Russia. "Journalists" who are scoring awards on his count aren't simply defending his right to due process - which he has been given at home. They are defending Snowden's decision to seek shelter from and curry favor with a regime that crushes those same rights of citizenship and journalism along with a great deal of human rights with an iron fist.

There is simply no escape from the fact that this year's Pulitzer for public service was awarded at least in part to individuals who have manipulated the release of their information for political gain and has built it on the backs, blood splatters and force silence of a countless number of their peers. There is no escape from the fact that it was awarded to individuals who have not only ignored those atrocities in their own fields, but propped it up by supporting the behavior of their source Ed Snowden.

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