Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

2018 Sam Adams Award Goes to Karen Kwiatkowski

Presentation of 2018 Sam Adams Award to Karen Kwiatkowski
December 8, 7:30 PM
Main Conference Room
The Festival Center
1640 Columbia Road, NW
Washington, DC 20009

“Shock and Awe” is a Rob Reiner film about how Knight Ridder journalists did a far better job on pre-iraq war intelligence than other news organizations. To refresh memories, Ann Wright, Larry Johnson, Gareth Porter, and I went to see a premier showing of “Shock and Awe” in downtown Washington this past summer.

During the discussion after the showing that night, our VIPS colleague Karen Kwiatkowski came out of the woodwork and acknowledged that she was one of the main folks (she was played well by an actress in the film) upon whom Knight Ridder journalists Jonathan Landay and Warren Stroebel depended for material. It was a wonderful surprise to most of us, even though others of us had also been in touch — independently — with JL and WS. What a treat to learn of our colleague Karen’s courage, and to be able to give her, on the spot before all assembled, big hugs of congrats for her courage. A big night for VIPS.

As many of you will recall, Elizabeth Murray handled the SAAII nomination and voting for the Sam Adams award this year, and Karen came out on top by a landslide. Here is what Elizabeth wrote to us in one of her emails, quoting those of us who were at the DC showing of the film:

“Karen had unique insight into how the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, led by close Cheney-ally Navy Captain Bill Luti, usurped the role of intelligence agencies, suppressed and/or distorted intelligence analysis, and fed falsehoods to Bush and Congress before the attack on Iraq.

“What none of us knew before July 11 is that Karen was a very important whistleblower. We were surprised and elated that evening during the Q & A following a preview of Rob Reiner’s new film, “Shock and Awe,” when Karen identified herself as one of the main whistleblowers portrayed in the film. It tells the story of the Knight Ridder (now McClatchy) reporters who did due diligence in seeking out sources like Karen and, uniquely among the MSM, were able to get the story largely right. The film is basically an account of the hurdles encountered by Knight Ridder reporters Landay and Stroebel, and how whistleblowers like Karen became essential sources.”

We plan tentatively to show the film, or parts of it, at the awards ceremony, for those who have no yet seen. Typically, someone apparently told neighborhood theaters not to show it (surprise, surprise].

The award ceremony will provide an excellent opportunity to talk about how whistle-blowing can be effective — and might conceivably be able to stop the next feckless war. In addition to Karen herself, Larry Wilkerson (Sam Adams awardee in 2009) has agreed to be one of the speakers. When she accepts the traditional corner-brightener candlestick holder (SAAII’s Oscar to shine light in dark places), Karen will become SAAII’s 17th Sam Adams award recipient.