Daniel Ellsberg


Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, discusses the government and media attacks on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks; a reminder that – at the time – Ellsberg was called a traitor for releasing the Pentagon papers; why Assange can’t be charged with a crime without jeopardizing investigative journalism and the notion of a free press; how Bradley Manning’s punitive detainment conditions seem designed to elicit a false confession; the question whether a potential US official secrets act (or implementation of the 1917 Espionage Act as such) would survive Supreme Court scrutiny; how the NY Times‘ deference to government power – especially when it counts the most – guarantees immunity from the charges leveled at WikiLeaks; Ellsberg’s reassuring conversation with Assange about his sexual misconduct charges; and why we need more whistleblowers ready to risk life in prison to expose government criminality.

MP3 here. (52:10) Transcript here.

Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

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.

5 thoughts on “Daniel Ellsberg”

  1. Assange is certainly no terrorist, but I think the way this issue is framed between terrorist vs hero is misleading. Wikileaks was suspiciously elevated and praised by mass media before it even released anything, and when it did it was just… a bunch of obvious stuff that is all over the web already anyway, and yet sandwiched in with the no brainers, was state propaganda about Iran, Pakistan, and "Al Qaeda." sure wikileaks plays "neutral" on the raw cables it released to the MSM filters, but it knew darn well what would be done with that. I mean please, thousands of cables and not a one on the illegal drug trade in Afghanistan? Not a one on Israel's nukes, or the torture in Iraq? That's not possible. This is an intelligence operation, Assange told of very private conversations about the state department showing how they had eyes and ear up everyone's skirt but said nothing of substance, that's an indirect way of blackmail and selling blackmail. Selling intelligence on the black market is as common place as weapons and narcotics

  2. President Barack Obama needs to reconsider the ban prohibiting U.S. government employees from downloading classified cables released by WikiLeaks. (The ban also extends to all U.S. government contractors.) The responsibility of those holding government security clearances entails only not divulging information residing on government forums, and also not commenting on similar information that may exist in the public realm. Now to extend the mandate of individuals holding security clearances to not reading information in public forums amounts to not only blatant censorship upon those very individuals entrusted to protect national security information, but also violates the second fundamental rule mentioned for holding information secure; for when one says information in the public forum is indeed classified, validity is essentially being given to that information.
    This is most important. It means that Obama and his administration are violating the first amendment rights of individuals holding U.S. security clearances, and are also violating fundamental U.S. national security laws!

  3. Good shite here. Gotta love the man. That is the perfect point of the whole thing: wikileaks gives people an opportunity to expose the truth without sacrificing themsleves and their families. That is why it is so feared and dangerous to the government. Before all they had was fear of punishment, character slander, etc.

  4. Actually. the Pentagon has been aiming at achieving a disarming first strike capability for more than 40 years. Former Trident missile engineer Bob Aldridge -www.plrc.org-wrote on the missiles to be deployed in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland by 2015: "Whether they are on ships or land, they are still a necessary component for an unanswerable first strike". Only for blackmail – and maybe not only for blackmail.
    My surgeon in Colombia told me his theory: Very long ago a total war had destroyed the Moon and Mars and the few survivors from both places settled here. But we don´t really know, do we ?

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