2022 Award Winners
Top Prize: Aaron Maté
We are awarding the top 2022 Pierre Sprey journalism prize to Aaron Maté for his work published on Real Clear Investigations, the Aaron Maté substack and his Pushback videos on the Grayzone site. Throughout the year, Maté’s reports on Washington’s true objectives in the Ukraine war, such as urging regime change in Russia, Biden exposes US aims in Ukraine and his continued work dissecting establishment propaganda on issues such as Russian interference in U.S. politics, or the war in Syria, have stood in welcome, often unique, contrast to mainstream media. His empiricist reporting give the lie to the charge of “disinformation” routinely levelled by those whose nostrums he challenges. His interviews on Pushback serve as models of informative elucidation, as demonstrated in appearances with former Congressman Dennis Kucinich on the collapse of the progressive peace lobby or with retired Colonel Douglas MacGregor on the U.S. military high command's changing views on the Ukraine war. Notably, he has highlighted the role of social media companies in shaping public perceptions of Russian interference, as in his 12/18/22 article on Twitter’s role in that effort. His reporting of facts belying the allegation that the Syrian government gassed civilians in Douma in 2018, citing credible evidence from whistleblowers has been vehemently denounced by U.S. and other state-supported organs, but never refuted. It is our view that Pierre Sprey would have heartily applauded Maté's work, and that he richly deserves this award.
Runner Up Awardee: Benjamin Abelow
The Washington Post and the New York Times, and much of the rest of US media characterize Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as “unprovoked.” This is the meme of a “captured, craven media that uncritically amplif[ies such] nonsense.”
The latter characterization is from Abelow’s eight part May 8, 2022 essay published both in book form and medium.com. The author argues Vladimir Putin obviously bears “proximate” responsibility for the invasion and its agony ongoing for the last year, but the “primary responsibility lies with the West, in particular with the United States.”
The many provocations included the relentless expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders, along with the often repeated declaration that Ukraine was to be added. This was an expansion that the United States promised would not occur and that clearly could have resulted in nuclear war had the situation been reversed with, for example, Russia moving offensive weapons into Mexico – or Cuba. Add at least seven other provocations, each of them significant and prolonged.
Broader readership of this important essay could change popular perception of this terrible and dangerous war.
Abelow maintains a website about his essay with a bio at Benjamin Abelow.com. The book is now out in English, German, Italian, Polish, and Slovenian.The German and Italian editions are currently best sellers on Amazon. A Danish translation is forthcoming.
Runner Up Awardee: Sam Husseini
Among the many aspects of the Covid-19 crisis that our state institutions have been eager to obscure has been any possible connection to the dark and ethically challenged netherworld of biowarfare research. That effort has been largely successful, in that the media has generally either avoided the subject or at best, given it scant attention. Sam Husseini, however, has left us no excuse for ignorance. Well before the possibility that the virus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology tip-toed into mainstream discussion, Husseini was reminding us with incisive, deeply researched, analyses on that biowarfare research is a real and present danger, as demonstrated not only in Wuhan, but here in the U.S and that The Pentagon, especially DTRA, has been a significant funder. His Substack columns in 2022 have further advanced the story, including his December 29, 2022 piece pointing out that “Gain of Function” research (as, for example, financed by the U.S. at the Wuhan lab) is simply a euphemism for military research and development. Even more important, because he has been almost alone in pursuing the story, is his convincing thesis in an October column that the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which killed thousands of people, had its origins in a U.S.-funded lab in Sierra Leone, and that the Obama Administration was well aware of the fact. More generally, Husseini has been unerring in naming the guilty parties directing warfare state operations, as in his comprehensive obituary of the late Madeleine Albright. In his passion for the truth, disregard for conventional wisdom, and meticulous research, Sam Husseini fulfils all the requirement for a Pierre Sprey prize.
Runner Up Awardee: Sudarsan Raghavan
Three months into the Russo-Ukrainian War, the mainstream media gushed with descriptions of a gallant underdog Ukraine beating back overwhelming numbers of Russian invaders. But on 26 May 2022, Sudarsan Raghavan, writing from Druzhkivka, near the front lines in northern Donbas, reported in The Washington Post how a different picture might be emerging.
Raghavan’s report, “Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned,” based on interviews with two battle-hardened, company-grade infantry officers, describes in gripping detail how undertrained, poorly led Ukrainian volunteers, were being led into a slaughterhouse by an uncaring senior leadership. This horror story was wildly at variance with contemporary reporting; yet it triggered no introspection in the mainstream media. Today it is forgotten. With the benefit of hindsight, however, it looks terrifyingly accurate. Such reporting should be honored as an exemplar to aspiring journalists.
We are proud to acknowledge the gutsy reporting of Sudarsan Raghavan with a Pierre Sprey Investigative Journalism Award.
Runner Up Awardee: CW5 (Ret.) Ken Jones
CW5 Ken Jones retired from the Army after 35 years of Army service. Ken served 11 years on Active Duty as an officer, starting on M-60 tanks and ending as an AH-64 Company Commander. He then served an additional 24 years in the Utah National Guard as an AH-64 standards instructor pilot and accrued over 14,000 hours flying the AH-64, AH-1, and small civilian airplanes / helicopters. He holds the world record of 10,300 hours in the AH-64 Apache of which 2,270 were in combat. Ken’s 3 combat tours in Afghanistan were with the 82nd Airborne Division, 101st Airborne Division, 10th Mountain Division, and the 25th Infantry Division earning the Legion of Merit, 3 Bronze Stars, 4 Air Medals (1 with Valor). His combat time was spent providing nightly direct support to U.S. and NATO Tier 1 Special Operators (Delta Force / Seals / British SAS) and Task Force 160th SOAR, participating in deliberate operation combat missions and QRF (Quick Reaction Force) missions. Ken currently resides in Utah and does back country flying in his free time.
Runner Up Awardee: Col (Ret) Mike Stock
Colonel Mike “Balz” Stock retired from the United States Air Force after 21+ years of service. Mike served as a fighter pilot, senior military leader, and commanded at multiple levels. He served in combat flying the A-10 Warthog in the 354th, 103rd, and 75th Fighter Squadrons in Afghanistan. His combat time was spent providing close air support of both conventional ground and special operations forces earning both the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor and the USAF Anthony C. Shine Fighter Pilot Award in 2010 for character, professionalism, and tactical proficiency. Currently, Mike is a business leader, a professional pilot, and an adjunct professor teaching courses in both leadership and business. He currently resides in Texas.
In considering materials for the prizes awarded above, we also reviewed work that we didn’t (in one case couldn’t) give a monetary prize but which we thought to be far above what is available generally in print or electronic media. The authors of this additional work are listed below with a brief description, with links to some of their publications. This list does not constitute all the journalists, researchers and analysts we consider to be valuable, but those listed we found exceptional and worthy of our taking note in the context of these awards.
Dan Grazier (a former journalist and a prior service Marine Corps officer; now a Senior Defense Policy Fellow at the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight): Dan Grazier exemplifies the superb research, investigation, analysis and writing that the top Pierre Sprey Award seeks to recognize. However, we reluctantly felt constrained from awarding Dan any monetary prize because of our own intimate relationship over many years with the Center for Defense Information and the Project On Government Oversight where he works. More specifically, we and Pierre Sprey were personally involved in POGO’s selection of Dan some years ago, and subsequently along with Pierre some of us collaborated from time to time with him for some of the work published. Therefore, our involvement makes it inappropriate to award him a prize. But his investigative work, research and analysis are unexcelled and are an exemplar for young aspiring defense oriented journalists. Dan's work can be found at the CDI/POGO website and/or by simply Googling his name. We encourage you to judge for yourself.
Col. Douglas Macgregor (US Army, ret., author, commentator, former advisor to the Secretary
of Defense in the Trump administration, and decorated combat veteran): Col. Macgregor
presents an astute military analysis of the war in Ukraine, taking fully into account Russia’s
strategic and operational aims, actions and assertions and offering a skepticism about the
accuracy of commensurate Ukrainian contentions that are not available from other American
commentators, and which are literally never found in the mainstream press. Though we may not share in the slightest Col. MacGregor's views on domestic and international political questions, his deeply-informed military analysis continues to prove invaluable in understanding the current epochal crisis, and indeedmilitary affairs in general.
Suggested links: Douglas Macgregor - We are co Belligerents - YouTube; Dr. Michael Vlahos & Col. Douglas Macgregor: Is the war in Ukraine entering its decisive phase? Pt.1 (bitchute.com); https://www.theamericanconservative.com/author/doug-mac/. https://responsiblestatecraft.org/author/dmacgregor/
Chas W. Freeman Jr., (former senior US diplomat to China, Thailand and Saudi Arabia, author and commentator on US policy toward Asia and the Middle East): Over a four day period in December 2022, the Quincy Institute’s Responsible Statecraft released a four part series by Ambassador Freeman addressing the seriously deteriorated – and still plummeting – relationship between the US and China. If war is to be avoided with China despite the hysteria of most extant American politicians (both parties), Freeman presents an analysis of how to far better understand both American and Chinese perceptions and actual interests regarding Taiwan -- the proximate cause of a conflict that hardliners, mostly in the US, seem determined to provoke. That catastrophe that could make the current disastrous war in Ukraine seem a side show, and we consider avoiding yet another war to be an overriding objective in recognizing Ambassador Freeman’s work.
Beyond just assessing the danger of the current relationship and its continuing deterioration, Freeman presents a roadmap for how the US and China might sublimate endless hostility for a peaceful, constructive and mutually benefitting relationship for all parties in Asia. Such an evolution would seem a phantom given current politics in the United States. But the alternative -- the direction we are headed – is far more dangerous than many in America are contemplating – if, indeed, they are considering anything beyond their own political self-grooming.