Scott Horton Interviews Daniel Ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, discusses the losing battle of Robert Byrd and Edward Kennedy (who both presided as senators over the Tonkin Gulf Resolution in 1964) to defeat the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, LBJ’s decision to escalate the Vietnam War despite the prescient predictions of disaster by advisor Clark Clifford, the doublethink prospect of destabilizing Pakistan in order to stabilize it, how “effective” counterinsurgencies often provoke civil war, the re-arrest of Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, the underestimation of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the inadequacy of currently proposed treaties on nuclear weapons.
MP3 here. (1:00:14)
Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and the articles “U.S. Nuclear War Planning for a Hundred Holocausts” and “Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years.”
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.