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Daniel Ellsberg

Ellsberg And ‘The Process Of My Awakening’

Of all the fine things written and said about Daniel Ellsberg since his death June 16, there is a thread running through them we ought not miss, a story Ellsberg himself told better than anyone else. It is a story from which we can all learn. As we consider this story, we can embrace Ellsberg as an exemplar as much as he was a courageous man of conscience. As he put it in an interview some years ago, “courage is contagious.”  Ellsberg did not give the story I have in mind a name, a title, a headline, or any such designation, but he may as well have, and I take the liberty of drawing from his words to name it now, the process of Dan Ellsberg’s awakening. 

Daniel Ellsberg’s Day In Court For Julian Assange

The massive obituaries to Daniel Ellsberg last weekend in both The New York Times and Washington Post were proof of the status he held in the United States. Only presidents get an obituary that size. His name was not nearly so widely known in the U.K. I first met Dan on 3 May 2006 when we were giving a joint presentation at Berkeley. The large hall was full to overflowing and to my surprise there were young students queuing outside and striving to listen on stairways through open doors. The large majority of the audience were not born when Dan leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Daniel Ellsberg, American Hero

Few people can say their actions helped to strengthen press freedom, end a war, and bring down a presidency. Daniel Ellsberg, who died today at the age of ninety-two, did just that. Ellsberg came to public prominence in 1971 when he photocopied a secret history of US involvement in the Vietnam War, what became known as the “Pentagon Papers,” and gave a copy to the New York Times. The New York Times’ decision to publish the papers set off a landmark press freedom battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court. Ellsberg became the first whistleblower indicted under the Espionage Act.

Dan Ellsberg’s Parting Plea: Don’t Wait

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity honored the late Dan Ellsberg with our annual award for fearless integrity on April 11, 2023. It was clear that Dan summoned much of his remaining strength to leave an unambiguous message to people of conscience as to why they should blow the whistle on government lies, as he did, but NOW, not later. The private ceremony was filmed by a friend of Dan and Patricia. Dan saved his parting plea for the last three minutes. Those wishing to go directly to that segment can start at minute 19:32. Dan’s words speak for themselves.

‘I’ve Never Regretted Doing It’: Daniel Ellsberg (1931–2023)

When the police arrived, a 13-year-old boy was photocopying classified documents. His 10-year-old sister was cutting the words “top secret” off each page. It seemed their dad, Daniel Ellsberg, had been caught red-handed. But the officers were responding to a false alarm and did not check what Ellsberg and his young accomplices were up to. “It was a very nice family scene,” the 90-year-old recalls via Zoom from his home in Kensington, California. “It didn’t worry them.” So night after night the photocopying went on, the crucial means that allowed strategic analyst Ellsberg to leak the Pentagon Papers, a secret report that exposed government lies about the Vietnam war.

Daniel Ellsberg Is Calling On All Of Us To Work To Avert Nuclear War

The legendary Daniel Ellsberg has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In a March 1 email to friends, Dan wrote, “I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live … it might be more, or less.” He will turn 92 on April 7. Dan displayed uncommon courage in 1971 when he publicized the 7,000-page top-secret Pentagon Papers while working at the Rand Corporation. As a consultant to the Department of Defense, Dan drafted Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s plans for nuclear war. In his book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, Dan wrote that the Pentagon Papers exposed the “secrets five presidents had withheld and the lies they told” about U.S. decision-making in Vietnam.

Daniel Ellsberg: Indict Me Too

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has told the U.S. Justice Department and President Joe Biden that he is as indictable as WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange for having unauthorized possession of classified materials before they were published by WikiLeaks and that he would plead “not guilty” because the Espionage Act is unconstitutional. Ellsberg revealed this week to the BBC interview program Hard Talk that Assange had given him the files leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to keep as a backup before they were published by WikiLeaks in 2010. Assange has been charged with violating the Espionage Act for possession and dissemination of classified information and faces 175 years in a U.S. prison if he is extradited from Belmarsh Prison in London.

Revealing The Pentagon Papers: From Capitol Hill To Beacon Hill

If the press wouldn’t continue publishing the Papers, I would. I sought a commercial publisher for the 4,100-page subcommittee record. Americans had to know the whole story about how government lies ultimately killed more than 58,000 Americans and three million Southeast Asians—just as we need today to expose all the lies about Iraq. I received many rejections that summer of 1971, including from Harvard University Press and MIT Press. Publishers knew the risk. But Gobin Stair, executive director of Beacon Press in Boston, didn’t care. Like me, he felt the press was letting the public down. He explained Beacon’s motive: “The public, we feel is entitled to reasonable public disclosure of the material rather than sketchy journalistic synopses. We are undertaking this vital project because we are concerned at how rapidly the American press lost interest in the Pentagon study once the Supreme Court confirmed the public’s right to this information.”

Revealing The Pentagon Papers In Congress: Getting The Papers

The 7,100-page study, which had been obtained and secretly given to me, detailed in 4,100 pages of analysis–I was missing as many as 3,000 pages of supporting documents–how the federal government had consistently lied to the American people about our military involvement in Vietnam. They revealed a detailed portrait of an arrogant, authoritarian and secretive leadership, spanning Democratic and Republican administrations from Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson, irresponsibly leading the nation gradually into a war they knew they could not win. Among many deceptions exposed over three decades, the Papers showed, for instance, that despite President Lyndon B. Johnson’s public promise that he would not expand the war, he secretly did just that, with bombing raids on Laos and North Vietnam as well as the insertion of U.S. marine combat units, long before the public found out.

Revealing The Pentagon Papers In Congress

It was a fairly steamy, early summer afternoon in the drained swamp of a city that had become Washington, DC, as I struggled with the two black flight bags up the steps of the Capitol. I walked briskly past the police and some inquisitive tourists through the cool, marble hallways to my office. I feared the FBI might be after me. I had asked Vietnam Veterans Against the War to send me the most disabled soldiers they could find. When I got to my office they were there, arrayed in their wheelchairs, medals pinned on, ready to do battle. They would have thrown their broken bodies in the way if the FBI tried to get in. These crippled men guarded the heavy flight bags behind the door until I was ready to take them onto the floor of the Senate. It was June 29, 1971.

The Pentagon Papers’ Success Hinged On A Personal Conversion To Nonviolence

Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the Pentagon Papers 50 years ago this week represents one of the most dramatic — if not the most dramatic — nonviolent actions of the movement that helped end the Vietnam War. It was also one of the most impactful as it precipitated events that led to the downfall of Richard Nixon. Less known is how the success of this action hinged on Ellsberg’s personal conversion to nonviolence. The media had a field day with the Pentagon Papers story. No wonder. It captured front-page headlines and network news for weeks: top secret documents revealed decades of governmental duplicity; a whistleblower eluded a massive FBI manhunt; the New York Times defied the president and published the papers; major newspapers joined in the defiance; a landmark Supreme Court decision vindicated the media; the whistleblower avoided a 100-plus year prison term because of governmental misconduct.

Celebrating Fifty Years Of Courage In An Era Of Apathy

He hasn’t gone anywhere, actually. He’s been here all along – poking small holes of decency in sick system, for five-plus decades. At 90, Dan Ellsberg is with us still, and still calling bullshit on a government that couldn’t act right if it tried, to a citizenry that couldn’t care less. Most of it, anyway; reminding me, at least – here at the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers’ publication, and just a month after Dan just dared the Justice Department to indict him for dropping yet another classified truth bomb about US nuclear lunacy – of the indefatigable Tom Joad’s climactic speech from The Grapes of Wrath: “I’ll be aroun’ in the dark. I’ll be everywhere-wherever you look. Wherever there is a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there…

Ellsberg Blows The Whistle Again

Unbeknownst to most of us, Dan Ellsberg secretly copied another explosive report when he copied the Pentagon Papers fifty years ago. The second classified study documented how close the U.S. came to starting a nuclear war with China in 1958. The NYTimes reports:  “When Communist Chinese forces began shelling islands controlled by Taiwan in 1958, the United States rushed to back up its ally with military force — including drawing up plans to carry out nuclear strikes on mainland China, according to an apparently still-classified document that sheds new light on how dangerous that crisis was.” Ellsberg has previously published the study on his website, but didn’t call attention to it. But with recent escalations in tensions with China, Ellsberg is now highlighting the previously censored sections of the report.

Assange Court Report September 16: Afternoon

A famous Vietnam era whistleblower, 89-year-old Daniel Ellsberg, has told a court that he feels “a great identification,” with both Julian Assange and his source Chelsea Manning, who, he said, “were willing to suffer the risk of imprisonment or even death to get information to the American public.” Ellsberg, a former US Marine officer who served with the US State Department in Vietnam during the war years, is best known for leaking a huge tranche of US government documents on the war to the New York Times in 1970, documents that showed that the government had been lying to the American people about the conflict from the beginning.

Good Ellsberg, Bad Assange

Opponents of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange often hold up Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg as an example of someone who was responsible for a good leak. They insist WikiLeaks is not like the Pentagon Papers because supposedly Assange was reckless with sensitive documents. On the seventh day of an extradition trial against Assange, Ellsberg dismantled this false narrative and outlined for a British magistrate court why Assange would not receive a fair trial in the United States. Assange is accused of 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime that, as alleged in the indictment, is written like an Espionage Act offense.
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