National Security Archive
Wins 1999
George Polk Award
for Journalism

Read the Press Release
from Long Island University
On March 17, 2000, Long Island University named The National Security Archive as winner of a Special George Polk Award for 1999 "for serving as an essential journalistic resource and for expanding access to previously classified documents" including, over the past year:
· Our investigative efforts to break loose the classified version of the U.S. relationship with China, including Henry Kissinger's face-to-face meetings.
· Our success in documenting three decades of human rights abuses in Guatemala, and publishing what is probably the only extant death squad logbook.
· Our investigative and watchdog role to open the secret U.S. files on Pinochet, an effort that continues despite his return to Chile.
· Our documenting the overseas deployments of U.S. nuclear weapons during the Cold War, a history hidden from both U.S. citizens and the host countries.

The criteria for the George Polk Award requires honorees to demonstrate "resourcefulness and courage in journalism."  The Archive is proud to join this prestigious group of award winners -- which in the past has included such names as Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Gloria Emerson, Norman Mailer, Seymour Hersh and Daniel Schorr.

Praise from the Awards Committee:

Using freedom of information law and extracting meaningful details from the yield can be an imposing, frustrating task.  But since 1985, the non-profit National Security Archive has been a FOILer's best friend, facilitating thousands of searches for journalists and scholars.  The Archive, funded by foundations and income from its own publications, has become a one-stop shopping center for declassifying and retrieving important documents, suing to preserve such government data as e-mail messages, pressing for appropriate declassification of files, and sponsoring research that has unearthed major revelations.  Last year, for example, the Archive prodded the United States to own up to its nefarious role in the 1973 coup in Chile and CIA complicity in the slaying of U.S. citizens who opposed the Pinochet regime.  We are pleased to present this special 1999 George Polk Award to the National Security Archive, which is housed in the Gelman Library at George Washington University, for piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth and informing us all.

A Compilation of Archive Press Clips from 1999

Other Polk Award winners for 1999:

Foreign Reporting--Paul Watson, Los Angeles Times, for his searing first-hand accounts of the war in Kosovo made possible by his ingenuity, persistence and courage in resisting expulsion. Watson unearthed atrocities committed by both sides.

Television Foreign Reporting--Giselle Portenier, Olenka Frenkiel and Fiona Murch, BBC News, for "Murder in Purdah," a shocking report shown on Nightline on the murder of women in Pakistan by husbands, fathers and brothers in the name of "honour."

International Reporting--Sang-hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley, Martha Mendoza and Randy Herschaft, Associated Press, for doggedly compiling evidence confirming that American soldiers massacred hundreds of South Korean civilians at No Gun Ri during the first weeks of the Korean War.

National Reporting--Jason DeParle, The New York Times, for an analysis of welfare reform in Wisconsin that peeled away layers of self-congratulation to uncover surprising results about how little the better numbers translated into improving life for former recipients.

Regional Reporting--Todd Richissin and Andre Chung, The Baltimore Sun, for exposing inhumane treatment of children sentenced to three Maryland boot camps for juvenile delinquents.

Criminal Justice Reporting--Ken Armstrong and Steve Mills, Chicago Tribune, for an investigation revealing that Illinois sent at least 12 innocent men to death row. Their stories led the governor to impose a moratorium on capital punishment in the state.

Local Reporting--Kevin Carmody, Daily Southtown (Illinois), for revealing how hundreds of scientists and workers were kept in the dark for 45 years about the potentially deadly health consequences of their exposure to the toxic metal beryllium in atom bomb factories.

Local Television Reporting--The "I'' Team, WWOR-TV, for the culmination of a decade-long series of more than 100 reports that documented New Jersey's widespread practice of "racial profiling,'' the singling out of minority targets by police.

Editorial Writing--Daily News (New York), for "New York's Harvest of Shame," a 14-part series of editorials that brought to light legally sanctioned exploitation of New York's farm workers and led to legislative reform.

Financial Reporting--Ellen E. Schultz, The Wall Street Journal, for her series that explained how several of the largest corporations in America cut the retirement benefits of millions of employees, without their knowledge, by adopting ''cash-balance" pension plans.

Medical Reporting--Andrea Gerlin, The Philadelphia  Inquirer, for a four-part series that documented how medical mistakes made in U.S. hospitals kill thousands of patients each year.

Career Award--Studs Terkel, who has captured the voices of ordinary Americans for half a century on his Chicago radio program and in his epic oral history books about the Depression, the Second World War, working, the arts, race relations and aging.

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