Scott Horton Interviews Daniel Ellsberg
This interview is from the KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles broadcast of August 5th, available here.
Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, discusses his articles “A Hundred Holocausts: An Insider’s Window Into U.S. Nuclear Policy” and “Hiroshima Day: America Has Been Asleep at the Wheel for 64 Years;” the “cultural lag” phenomenon wherein the technology of mass destruction overtakes mankind’s moral capacity; the objections within the military to dropping the atomic bombs (because firebombing Japanese cities had been devastating enough and surrender was imminent); the H-bomb’s staggering destructive force as compared to an A-bomb; how the Russian and US “hair trigger doomsday machines” put us at perpetual risk of annihilation; how the relatively cool-headed George W. Bush (as compared to Cheney and McCain) kept the US out of potential nuclear wars; and the stagnant pace of disarmament, even though it could be done quickly and is absolutely essential.
MP3 here. (29:22)
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.