Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, discusses his new film “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” simulations that indicate nuclear war would be more destructive than previously thought, how the practice of killing civilians en masse in WWII became the premise of U.S. nuclear war planning, cancellation of the European missile defense shield and the staggering difference in destructive force between an H-bomb and every other weapon preceding it.
MP3 here. (53:13)
Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and the article “U.S. Nuclear War Planning for a Hundred Holocausts.”
In 1959 Daniel Ellsberg worked as a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines.
On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, he worked on the Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.