Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, discusses the espionage trial of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, scheduled to start on June 13 – also the 40th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers leak; why Bradley Manning, even if guilty of everything he’s accused of, still didn’t commit a federal crime; the history, applicability and common use of the Espionage Act of 1917; why using the Act for prosecuting whistleblowers who disclose classified information violates the First Amendment and should be unconstitutional; how Manning’s possible conviction would fundamentally damage the relationship between Americans and their government; and the disturbing trend of increasing government secrecy and decreasing public privacy.
MP3 here. (22:03)
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.