Daniel Ellsberg interviewed by New York Magazine

Andrew Rice interviewed Daniel Ellsberg for a profile in New York Magazine.

Here are some passages:

“Keeping secrets was my career,” Daniel Ellsberg says. “I didn’t lose the aptitude for that when I put out the Pentagon Papers.” This might come as a shock, considering that the former Defense Department analyst is best known for leaking classified information nearly half a century ago, thus bringing about a landmark legal precedent in favor of press freedom and, indirectly, hastening the end of both the Vietnam War and the Nixon administration. But for many years, even as Ellsberg beat prosecution, became a peace activist, and wrote an autobiography titled Secrets, he still had something remarkable left to disclose….

The Doomsday Machine is being published at an alarmingly relevant moment, as North Korea is seeking the capability to target the United States with nuclear missiles, and an unpredictable president, Donald Trump, has countered with threats of “fire and fury.” Experts on North Korea say that the risk of a nuclear exchange is higher than it has been in recent memory. Ellsberg, as one of the few living members of the generation of theorists who devised our nuclear strike doctrines, has been grappling with such possibilities for much of his life. “It is kind of astonishing,” he says, “that people will put up with a non-zero chance of this happening.”….“It’s like living on Vesuvius — that’s what humans do,” Ellsberg said. “That’s why I think we’re likely to go.”…. Continue Reading

The Secret History of the Bomb: Daniel Ellsberg interviewed in Esquire

Rick Perlstein interviewed Daniel Ellsberg in Esquire. Here are some highlights pertaining to Kim Jong Un and nuclear weapons:

Ellsberg: The war games we run against North Korea, which have been leaked, are always described as involving “decapitation.” And there have been news stories about the South Koreans developing a special “decapitation team.” Now, what can we expect? First, we can be virtually certain that Kim Jong Un has made provisions so that it would not paralyze his system just to kill him. That’s true of every nuclear state. But now let me add something that’s much less obvious. I’m pretty convinced—this is speculation, but it’s based on history and experience—that Kim has, in fact, also made provisions for massive retaliation if he is killed. A “dead hand” system….

The American people are being led to believe that they have to fear a surprise attack from Kim, which is crazy. It would be an act of self- annihilation if he did that. What he wants is a deterrent. Trump is threatening to do something crazy. Now, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it’s totally incredible. Both sides are cultivating an image of impulsivity and backing it up with a readiness to use massive force. It really does have a chance of blowing up, and that’s the theme of my book. We should not be talking about or threatening or preparing to go to war against Kim Jong Un any more than he should be preparing to go to war against us. What does that leave? Negotiation.

 

Trump’s War on the Press

ACLU lawyers believe that Trump is likely to prosecute journalists and editors for publishing leaks of classified information, for the first time, using the Espionage Act. So far, the Espionage Act has been used for leaks to the American public only against government officials or former ones, of which I was the first, for the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

There were only two other such prosecutions before Obama; he prosecuted nine cases, or three times as many as all previous presidents together. It’s being taken for granted that Trump will follow Obama’s pattern, but also believed that he will go further to use the Act against reporters for the first time.

The Supreme Court might (or might not) find this application unconstitutional under the First Amendment (though the plain language of the Act–which was meant for spies, not leakers, and used only for spies before my case, applies as well to anyone who copies, holds, or passes on information “related to the national defense” including journalists, publishers (like Julian Assange or the New York Times) or even readers of the newspapers (!) as well as to officials. Continue Reading

“The Doomsday Machine” reviewed by Greg Mitchell on BillMoyers.com

Greg Mitchell reviewed The Doomsday Machine on BillMoyer.com:

“At a time when nuclear dangers grow, along with activism to combat them—elevated just this week by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receiving the Nobel Peace Prize—Ellsberg’s book is a timely reminder of the nuclear threat and essential reading in the Trump era.”

Read the full review via the link above.

 

Announcing Our New Freedom of the Press Foundation Board Member, Edward Snowden

Here’s what Daniel Ellsberg said in today’s Freedom of the Press Foundation press release announcing its new board member, Edward Snowden:

[Snowden] is the quintessential American whistleblower, and a personal hero of mine, Leaks are the lifeblood of the republic and, for the first time, the American public has been given the chance to debate democratically the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. Accountability journalism can’t be done without the courageous acts exemplified by Snowden, and we need more like him. . . .

The secrecy system in this country is broken. No one is punished for using secrecy to conceal dangerous policies, lies, or crimes, yet concerned employees who wish to inform the American public about what the government is doing under their name are treated as spies. Our ‘accountability’ mechanisms are a one-sided secret court, which acts as a rubber stamp, and a Congressional ‘oversight’ committee, which has turned into the NSA’s public relations firm. Edward Snowden had no choice but to go to the press with information. Far from a crime, Snowden’s disclosures are a true constitutional moment, where the press has held the government to account using the First Amendment, when the other branches refused.

Edward Snowden said: Continue Reading

Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America

Daniel Ellsberg’s opinion piece in the Guardian today:

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.

Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.” Continue Reading

Secrecy and National Security Whistleblowing

By Daniel Ellsberg (originally published in Social Research)

I) Reflections on Secret-keeping and Identity

In the “national security” area of the government–the White House, the departments of state and defense, the armed services and the “intelligence community,” along with their contractors–there is less whistleblowing than in other departments of the executive branch or in private corporations. This despite the frequency of misguided practices and policies within these particular agencies that are both more well-concealed and more catastrophic than elsewhere, and thus even more needful of unauthorized exposure.

The mystique of secrecy in the universe of national security, even beyond the formal apparatus of classification and clearances, is a compelling deterrent to whistleblowing and thus to effective resistance to gravely wrongful or dangerous policies. In this realm, telling secrets appears unpatriotic, even traitorous. That reflects the general presumption–even though it is very commonly false–that the secrecy is aimed not at domestic, bureaucratic or political rivals or the American public but at foreign, powerful enemies, and that breaching it exposes the country, its people and its troops to danger.

Even those insiders who have come to understand that the presumption is frequently false and that particular facts are being wrongly and dangerously kept secret not so much from foreigners but from Congress, courts or the public are strongly inhibited from speaking out by an internalized commitment to keep official secrets from outsiders, which they have promised to do as a condition of employment or access. Continue Reading

Progressives: Defeat Romney/Ryan in Swing States

I agree with nearly everything Jill Stein of the Greens and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party say: except when they say “vote for me” in swing states.

Here’s why:

It is critical to prevent a Republican administration under Romney/Ryan from taking office in January 2013.

The election is just a week away, and I want to urge those whose values are generally like mine—progressives, especially activists—to make this a high priority.

An activist colleague recently said to me: “I hear you’re supporting Obama.”  I was startled, and took offense.

“I lose no opportunity,” I told him angrily, “to identify Obama publicly as a servant of Wall Street: a man who’s decriminalized torture and is still complicit in it, a drone assassin, someone who’s launched an unconstitutional war, who claims authority to detain American citizens and others indefinitely without charges or even to execute them without due process, and who has prosecuted more whistleblowers like myself than all previous presidents put together. Would you call that support?” Continue Reading

Eradicate Land-Based Doomsday Missiles

Daniel Ellsberg and David Krieger’s opinion piece, originally published in the Christian Science Monitor:

America’s 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. We’re not exaggerating.

President Obama and other world leaders gathered at the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, this week to address threats posed by unsecured nuclear material. If Mr. Obama is truly concerned about nuclear safety, he should seriously consider doing away with the 450 inter-continental ballistic missiles deployed and ready to fire at Russia on a moment’s notice.

Last month we were among 15 protesters who were arrested in the middle of the night at Vandenberg Air Force Base, some 70 miles north of Santa Barbara, Calif. We were protesting the imminent test flight of a Minuteman III inter-continental ballistic missile.

The Air Force rationale for doing these tests is to ensure the reliability of the US nuclear deterrent force; but launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. Continue Reading

Obama Gave Manning “Verdict First, Trial Later.”

Edited excerpts of transcript from Keith Olbermann’s interview of Daniel Ellsberg on Current:

ELLSBERG: The commander-in-chief, President Obama, gave Manning ‘verdict first, trial later.’ He said Manning had broken the law, before even the prosecution case had been heard, let alone the defense case. He said he was guilty,

That alone is virtually a directed verdict. It’s unlawful command influence on the subordinate officers, who will be carrying out both this decision, and later in the trial. The court martial should be out for that reason alone.

Second, the way Manning has been treated at my old base at Quantico, was shameful, and amounted to torture. My own case, the first one ever brought on this, was dismissed for reasons of “gross governmental misconduct” by President Nixon. There has been gross governmental misconduct in this case, in the form of that 10-and-a-half months of isolation. The case should be dismissed, for that reason. But it won’t be.

Obama’s practically got a war going on here against whistleblowers. He’s setting precedents here for the use of the Espionage Act against whistleblowers, which is of very questionable constitutionality in this guise. It was meant for espionage, and has often been used against espionage successfully.

But he’s setting a precedent of using it against whistleblowers now–five times under Obama now, and only three times in all the years before Obama.