Seymour Hersh Honored for Integrity

An organization led by former U.S. intelligence officials has selected legendary journalist Seymour Hersh to be the recipient of an annual award for integrity and truth-telling, named for the late CIA analyst Sam Adams.

By Ray McGovern.

Journalist Seymour Hersh is to be honored with this year’s Sam Adams Award for Integrity to be presented to him at the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) award ceremony on the evening of Sept. 22 at American University.

Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh

Sam Adams Associates, who selected Hersh last month from a truly impressive roster of truth-tellers, are enthusiastic at the prospect of Sy joining the ranks of the 15 earlier awardees – from Coleen Rowley (2002) to John Kiriakou (2016). Included among those in between are other patriots: like Katharine Gun, U.K. Ambassador Craig Murray, Col. Larry Wilkerson, Julian Assange, Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Fingar, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and Bill Binney. [To learn more about previous honorees, as well as other material on whistleblowing, go to]

SAAII confers its annual award on a member of the intelligence profession or related field who exemplifies the courage, persistence and devotion to truth of Sam Adams, a CIA analyst on Vietnam who exposed the lies of the generals in Saigon and was then silenced. Later – but too late – Sam realized he should have gone public. (Yes, during the 1960s and 1970s, more of the U.S. media was able to put the national interest first and was open to whistleblowers.)

Sam, who was a fourth cousin seven times removed of President John Adams, died prematurely at age 55, nagged by the thought that had he not let himself be diddled by the system, thousands of lives might have been saved in Indochina. His story is told in War of Numbers, published posthumously. Several of Sam’s former colleagues are included in SAAII, as well as others who hold up the experience he underwent as a lesson for those who now know that, if they wish to succeed in getting the truth out, “going thru channels” normally is not only quixotic but also dangerous.

In 1967, Sam discovered that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms in South Vietnam – roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest the outside world learn that American generals’ claims of “progress” were bogus. Commanding general William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number that Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books.

On Aug. 22, 1967, Westmoreland’s deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams, specifically warned the Johnson administration back in Washington that the press would have a field day if Adam’s numbers were released, and that this would weaken the war effort. In a SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Saigon, Abrams wrote: “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months,” and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”

The Communist countrywide offensive during Tet (January/February 1968) made it painfully clear that the generals had been lying and that Sam Adams’s higher figures were correct. A few weeks after Tet, Daniel Ellsberg rose to the occasion and leaked the truth. Dan had learned that Westmoreland was asking for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam — right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond.

After the 206,000 request was leaked by someone else to the New York Times, Ellsberg leaked Sam Adams’ information on actual enemy strength. Dan had come to the view that leaking truth about a deceitful war would be “a patriotic and constructive act.” It was his first unauthorized disclosure, and it was effective. On March 19, 1968, the Times published a stinging story based on Adams’s figures.

On March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us. … We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks. … I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.” On March 31, 1968, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November.

Enter Sy Hersh

Sy Hersh, who was already famous for bringing the My Lai massacre story to global attention in 1969, found Sam Adams and pursued this other story of Vietnam deception. Thus, there is poetic justice in Sy Hersh receiving this award named for Adams, since it was he who first reported (in the New York Times on Feb. 26, 1973) on Sam’s David vs. Goliath struggle against a military/political/intelligence establishment eager to cover up the politically driven undercounting of Communist fighters in South Vietnam.

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

In an article on Feb. 26, 1973, Hersh duly quoted Army officials who were still disparaging Sam’s courageous pursuit of the truth. But the quote that Sy chose to conclude the article reflects his well honed smell for the truth. He wrote, “’The trouble with Sam is that he has always been right,’ one former colleague remarked. ‘He always told the truth and never cared whose toes he stepped on.’”

Sy Hersh has no doubt worn out several pairs of shoes stepping on the toes of a well-heeled Establishment. The current response from the mainstream media to Hersh’s latest exposés that challenge the lies and propaganda of Official Washington is to say: “We’ll show you, Hersh. Just you try to get published anywhere in the English-speaking world.”

Sy tried in vain to find an American or British outlet that would publish his most recent report on President Donald Trump’s lie that a Syrian aircraft carried out a “chemical weapons attack” in Syria’s Idlib Province on April 4. This disclosure of a deception by the new President would have been a big deal, at least by the journalistic standards of the past, since Trump openly attacked Syria with 59 cruise missiles on April 6 in ostensible “retaliation.”

Sy ended up having to go to the mainstream German newspaper Die Welt to get the results of his investigation published. [See here and here.]

As for the New York Times – the so-called “paper of record” – and its proud tradition of publishing “all the news that’s fit to print,” its hallowed pages have made no mention of Pulitzer Prize-winning Sy Hersh’s article on the chemical incident in Syria on April 4. The slogan should be changed to “all the news that fits neatly into the government narrative we print.” Many Sam Adams Associates have also been active with Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and have faced similar ostracism from the mainstream media for almost 15 years.

Until He Was Silenced

Besides revealing the My Lai massacre in 1969, Hersh exposed illegal CIA domestic operations against the antiwar movement in 1974. More recently, in 2004, he reported on the torture and other abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and he exposed the Obama administration’s lies used to justify a bloody proxy war in Syria. None of this, however has left him cynical or dulled his conscience.

American military police pose with naked detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Sy told Die Welt that he still gets upset with government lying and at the reluctance of the media to hold governments accountable. Summing up lessons from Trump’s reaction to the April 4 chemical event in Syria, Sy said this: “We have a President in America today who lies repeatedly … but he must learn that he cannot lie about intelligence relied upon before authorizing an act of war. There are some in the Trump administration who understand this, which is why I learned the information I did.”

The common challenge we all face is getting such information into media outlets that Americans regularly access. Encouragement comes from Sy Hersh’s example of grit, integrity and stick-to-itiveness, which have already had a powerful influence on Sam Adams Associates. In sum, this year’s awardee is a wonderfully good fit.

Ray McGovern works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. A former CIA analyst and colleague of Sam Adams, Ray co-founded Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence and Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

27 comments for “Seymour Hersh Honored for Integrity

  1. Bob Ford
    September 6, 2017 at 22:14

    Thank you for recognizing the work of Seymour Hersh. And thanks you for publishing his article in the false flag operation in Syria.

  2. incontinent reader
    September 4, 2017 at 15:29

    It’s not surprising the British papers and journals, including the Monthly Review, wouldn’t touch Sy Hersh’s blockbuster report – they were probably ordered to stay away by their Government. The Brits, after all were deeply implicated in the manufacturing of the fake report, including through their jihadist ‘doctor’ who was everywhere on social media, their ‘testing’ of uncorroborated samples, and their contamination of the whole OPCW investigative process with the imbedding of two British operatives on the team.

  3. incontinent reader
    September 4, 2017 at 15:21

    I would instead have characterized the Times logo as ‘All the news that’s fit, we omit. All the news we print is…….’Scheiße’

  4. Tom
    September 3, 2017 at 16:33

    You have to keep in mind how hypocritical the system is. Cable news channels aren’t news. They’re talk radio on TV. Their “journalists” are all millionaire hosts. Their corporate bosses say, you wanna be a nobody or a “star”? On camera they act like they despise each other. Yet after hours they hang out together w/politicians they’re supposed to “objectively” cover at parties in the Hamptons. It’s just gossip and hype.

    The ONLY reason corporate media ever puts Hersh on is to then trash him. If you’re such a great reporter, why do so many people hate you? Corporate media loves money and power just as much as politicians do.

  5. Dan Mallon
    September 2, 2017 at 18:59

    Event though it’s my bias, it seems to be a very biased award. Fair play all the same! SY doesn’t need this award to be the man!

  6. George Hoffman
    September 2, 2017 at 15:25

    I served as a medical corpsman at the 12th USAF Hospital at Cam Ranh Bay AFB (31 May 1967 – 31 May 1968). The wounded grunts on the ward told me that they could see in firefights and battles that the troop strength had greatly increased. And this was months before the Tet Offensive of 1968. So as it was stated in this article Sam Adams was always right. There was “no light at the end of the tunnel” as the brass were always stating. Adams was a true patriot.

  7. Herman
    September 2, 2017 at 12:52

    When you observe the strong connection between the views of our government and the views of our major media, the question arises: what are they teaching in our prestigious schools of journalism. Are they teaching students to question like Seymour Hersh or to pass on government or other power center messages with style like the Mathews, Hayes, or Cooper do? Guessing I might know the answer, I really am curious because it is an important question.

    • Skip Scott
      September 2, 2017 at 13:48


      I doubt it much matters what they teach in journalism schools, it’s what they learn in the real world when they go get a job and see that the shills and toadies get promoted, and the muckrakers get fired.

  8. exiled off mainstreet
    September 2, 2017 at 12:50

    Hersh has been a hero his whole life, though even he knows he has to survive, thus, regarding the recent time he was taped talking about things relating to the phony Russiagate story he made a statement contradicting to some extent the tape, but the tape was real and has helped reveal the fraudulent nature of this story. McGovern is being ironic describing the New York Times as the paper of record. In the 21st century it has degenerated into the Pravda of the deep state, and it is ironic that Hersh had to get published in Die Welt, the Springer German paper, to debunk the April 4 Syria story. This itself is interesting because it indicates that Germany may be beginning to leave the yankee reservation, though I think a surprise setback to Merkel, the ex-Stasi present deep state queen, will be required to free the fatherland from yankee tutelage.

  9. Jeff
    September 1, 2017 at 23:54

    Sy Hersh is certainly deserving of all the prestige and acknowledgment he’s getting from this award. Comparing his investigative journalism to the fake new dished out by the likes of Tweety Matthews, Joe Scar, Chris Hayes, Joyann Reed, Joan Walsh, Brian Williams, etc. is like shooting fish in a barrel. No comparison! Sy Hersh has the courage of his convictions and his work rings true. Congratulations, sir.

  10. M.
    September 1, 2017 at 22:13

    Un abrazo fuerte para Ray McGovern, para Seymour Hersh, para todos los “V.I.P.S.,” para todos los demás destinatorios del Premio Sam Adams, y para Robert Parry.

  11. jsinton
    September 1, 2017 at 21:14

    Whoa, you had me going until I saw Manning was a “truth teller”. You lost me right there. Manning hadn’t a clue what he was releasing, and only did it because he was messed up and wanted to punish the world.

    • occupy on
      September 1, 2017 at 22:11

      Oh, please!

    • Profecto
      September 2, 2017 at 08:33

      jsinton – I assume you didn’t see the ‘collateral murder’ video which was part of what motivated Manning.

  12. bethelkid
    September 1, 2017 at 20:50

    I admire the integrity of people who have the courage and character to tell the real truth about the ugly side of government.

  13. Ol' Hippy
    September 1, 2017 at 19:25

    Seymour Hersh, perhaps, is in the top ten of investigative journalists around. Good to see him get recognized for his hard work. The good journalism of the past has been sold out to the independents, sad. I just his work could be disseminated to a wider audience; then, perhaps, Syria would be shown for what a farce it’s been and saved thousands of innocent lives in the process. I’ve found his work on Syria most illuminating,

  14. Virginia
    September 1, 2017 at 13:32

    Will Sy stand behind his recent video explaining how his FBI contact read an FBI report to him revealing that Seth Rich had contacts with WikiLeaks?

    • Skip Scott
      September 1, 2017 at 16:21

      Good question! Seth Rich may be another truth telling hero worthy of a Sam Adams award. Let’s hope that Sy Hersh digs out the truth on this story as well.

    • exiled off mainstreet
      September 2, 2017 at 12:53

      That is what I was referring to below when I said even Hersh has to do stuff to survive, but the tape tells all. His biography more than makes up for what he saw as a need to compromise to survive.

  15. mike k
    September 1, 2017 at 11:28

    The blackballing of Hersh and the VIP report on the “chem attack” in Syria show there is more to the fake news of the MSM than Sottile stated in his recent CN article. The MSM is a propaganda organ of the deep state oligarchs and their world domination agenda.

    • Billy
      September 1, 2017 at 11:37

      Scottile is a propagandist himself. His claim that profit determines the narrative is false. CNN and MSNBC pushing the “Russia hacked the DNC” lie wasn’t because of profit.

      • Diana Barahona
        September 1, 2017 at 13:49

        The CIA (a major institution of the deep state) has owned all US (and many foreign) presidents up to the moment Trump was elected. The CIA exists to run the US empire on behalf of transnational corporations. The mass media are transnational corporations, as are their advertisers. Therefore, the mass media have a profit motive for keeping the CIA and the deep state in power.

      • Chucky LeRoi
        September 2, 2017 at 13:19

        Billy – Please make yourself aware of the videos of John Bonifield, a Supervising Producer at CNN, admitting the “…Russia bulls**t is … because of ratings.” They are readily available. Try YouTube.

      • Jessejean
        September 2, 2017 at 16:34

        That lie was to give Rachel something to do after Her felating of Hillary had such a disastrous outcome. I.e., no Hillary power to continue to suck up to.
        I mean, have you watched the intellectual contortions RM goes thru to push the Russia-did-it lie? Having grown up under the McCarthy tactics of smear, innuendo, attack, distortion, mockery, and The Big Lie, it makes me sick to my stomach to watch that little smirker use these same tactics for liberal ends. And what’s really outrageous is that these same tactics were used most effectively against gay people to destroy our lives before it was popular to be gay, and/or support us. That alone condemns her to a straight hell, with Satan and Chris, that South Park hath prepared for her. Or maybe the Morman Heaven. God, wouldn’t that be just deserts?

      • Nancy
        September 4, 2017 at 12:32

        I see your point. Although I’m sure they love the profits, the true purpose of the Russiagate nonsense is the demonization of Russia and Trump and the continuation of never-ending war. That’s where the real profits are.

  16. September 1, 2017 at 11:18

    …a worthy recipient of a prestigious award!

  17. Sam F
    September 1, 2017 at 10:33

    Mr. Hersch wells deserves the award. Let us hope that many new courageous leakers and journalists come forward to help set our country aright in its wrongdoings. Thank you Ray McGovern.

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