Daniel Ellsberg: “I’ve waited forty years for a release of documents on this scale.”

by Ellsberg.Net on October 22, 2010

On the eve of the biggest leak of classified documents in US history, Daniel Ellsberg appeared on Democracy Now. Daniel is on his way to London to participate in a press conference with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Saturday to announce the release.

From the WikiLeaks website:

At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports (‘The Iraq War Logs’), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.

Share your thoughts, comments, and discussion in the comments section below.

{ 2 trackbacks }

The BRAD BLOG : Exclusive: Ellsberg Disagrees With WikiLeaks' Assange on Whether Clinton Should Resign
December 2, 2010 at 5:06 pm
Brad Friedman: Exclusive: Ellsberg Disagrees With WikiLeaks’ Assange on Whether Clinton Should Resign
December 4, 2010 at 9:01 am

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

jj nixon June 13, 2011 at 10:15 pm

RE: R Phalange In time of war?:Only the Congress of the USA can declare war. The Founding Fathers were wise to separate the powers of state.Government by the people & for the people WAS what made America unique & Great in the eyes of the world.If you think that citizens should just accept what the government of the day says regardless of the facts (that are not public knowledge) then you are no better than what was once called a “Good German”. This was minted at Nuremburg. I was an “American fighting man” in Vietnam & was never put at risk except by the lairs in the US government.Oh & these war criminals spelled real well1

don novak March 13, 2011 at 12:54 am

I just finished reading Secrets and was blown away by the abuse of power at the “highest” levels.

I was in high school in Canada during the 60’s and strongly objected to the American invasion of Viet Nam, its intensity and duration. Mohammad Ali was a hero of mine not so much for his boxing as for his refusal to fight the Vietnamese. Now you are a hero for what you did and are continuing to do.

Attending a course in Michigan several years ago I was confronted by more than one American, after realizing I was Canadian. They took exception to Canada’s refusal to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq. I was told: “You are our brother and brothers are supposed to help each other.” As our Prime Minister Cretien said regarding the WMD: “There is no proof. A proof is a proof and there is no proof” in his broken English.
A couple of months ago Bush was on TV trying to sell his book. He told Jay Leno
that Saddam, as it turned out, had no WMD, but, and to quote “I want the American people to remember he was entirely capable of producing them.”
Who do these people, these managers of state, take us for???
And what I found distasteful was that Leno could only offer a weak smile and a shrug of his shoulders.

Keep up the good work Dan. I applaud you. Bless you.

Blanca Huff December 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

I believe we need to enhance the public dialog prior to these documents leaks. It is important for media partners to help explain the importance of the contents of specific documents, but we need to better communicate to people why we feel it is important to release these documents. We need to show our ernest interest in engagement with all parties in a more transparent public arena. This will require clarity of position and education efforts to diffuse massive disinformation. There is a lot of aggression and threats of physical violence come from the opposition of these releases, we must always maintain a dignified stance employing nonviolent methods. I believe these few enhancements to the strategy now being exercised will benefit the impact and longevity of this effort greatly.

Mean10102 December 10, 2010 at 1:36 am

I have been a supporter of democracy now for some time . I look at it as one of the hopes for America , kind of like one of the only news stations that will be a portal to go from lies to truth . last i checked it was only on satellite though .

Please also join the discussions on http://www.wikileaksforum.net

woody voinche December 7, 2010 at 3:06 pm

One of the most important issues today is the war in Afghanistan-Pakistan and the fact that US
Military Aid to Pakistan is being used to fund the Pakistani ISI which is in turn funding Taliban
and Al Quada fighters. While this has been reported sporadically in the media for whatever
reason political pundits on the left and right have effectively ignored this issue.
Joe Klein in an article for Time, August 9, 2010, p. 19, has written an article that every American
citizen should go to their library and read, he writes,
“The commanders are unanimous in their belief that the ISI is running the show….And so,
despite professions of alliance with the US by Pakistan’s then dictator Pervez Musharraf, a
decision was made to keep the Taliban alive. A spigot of untargeted military aid from the George
W. Bush Administration helped fund the effort. A commander of the vicious Haqqani Taliban
network tells Waldman that their funding comes from ‘the Americans–from them to the
Pakistani military, and then to us.’ Waldman reports that the commander receives from the
Pakistanis ‘a reward for killing foreign soldiers, usually $4000 to $5000 for each soldier killed’”.
American tax dollars if not directly, then indirectly are being used to fund the Taliban and put
a bounty on American boys and girls head… Makes one wonder why the establishment right
or left is not reporting on this? If the right is covering for
the mistakes of the Bush administration…why is the establishment left not reporting on this???
this is the most important issue of the day, we will never bring this war to an end if the US is not directly then indirectly financing the enemy…NO?
woody voinche

David Shauger December 5, 2010 at 12:24 am

I believe we need to enhance the public dialog prior to these documents leaks. It is important for media partners to help explain the importance of the contents of specific documents, but we need to better communicate to people why we feel it is important to release these documents. We need to show our ernest interest in engagement with all parties in a more transparent public arena. This will require clarity of position and education efforts to diffuse massive disinformation. There is a lot of aggression and threats of physical violence come from the opposition of these releases, we must always maintain a dignified stance employing nonviolent methods. I believe these few enhancements to the strategy now being exercised will benefit the impact and longevity of this effort greatly.

Tom December 2, 2010 at 3:58 am

Why is Wikileaks so effective?

The main reason is because for a long time the corporate MSM was very pissed off that they were getting massive coverage and doing their job for them. They’ll never publically admit it that. But it’s true.

Now we have the Guardian, the Times and some other publications helping to release this. If Assange is such a threat, why would these publications’ publishers risk their jobs (and a very pissed off board of directors)?

Easy answer. In this global depression (call it what it is), media “loyalty” is a thing of the past. If a neocon board runs your firm, the odds are higher you go after Assange or you’re sacked. So once again, it comes down to money. These publications know when to strike to maximize profits. Assange also knows this (despite his previous having a go at the MSM).

Now the key question: if Assange is arrested and extradited to the States, who’s going to pay his legal bills? Will everyone who supports him band together to raise money? Will there be a telethon in the States to do this? If yes, will the govt. say this is a “terrorist” organization and threaten to arrest everyone involved? What grounds would they have? Obviously Obama could care less about intl. law (unless it can be manipulated to serve his interests). Assange is exposing what the rest of the world sees as war crimes.

Why is that bad?

Tom December 2, 2010 at 3:45 am

Here are some points that nobody’s talking about:
The latest reports say that Assange is in the U.K. There’s also a Interpol arrest warrant out for him. It’s also common knowledge that Prime Minister David Cameron wants to dump the EU Human Rights Charter.

Assume that Holder asks for Assanges’ arrest and extradition. So far, he building up global support very effectively. Which means if he is picked up, will he be sent to the States? Can you name one example where the U.K. didn’t give in to the States (Iraq, McKinnon’s extradition and so on)?

This leads to two points. One, if he is picked up there will be a MASSIVE movement to stop it. Will it be sustained, or just a one day get-tons-of-the-usual-coverage protest? Second, in many places it looks like people just want to outsource protest to Wikileaks. Please take down this govt. or corporation because I have to go home and cook dinner. Thanks very much.

If it’s not oursourcing protest, what is it?

Bolívar Iglesias November 30, 2010 at 6:31 pm

There are men who struggle for a day, and they are good. There are others who struggle for a year, and they are better. There are some who struggle many years, and they are better still.
But there are those who struggle all their lives, and these are the indispensible ones.”
— Bertolt Brecht.
You Mr.Ellsberg are one of those indispensible ones,thank’s for being and staying honest.

Raya Sassard November 30, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I dont see what the big deal is. Why wasnt this all published before? We may put lives in danger? no, they put their own lives in danger. what are we not allowed to know? and why arent we allowed to know it? i dont like being lied to by a gov. that i put all my and my familys faith in.

diane perkins November 30, 2010 at 2:39 am

At last! How refreshing and stimulating to see you on Larry King. I think your truth there will mark the beginning of the end of our wars in the Middle East; the counrty is ready. We needed to hear from you. Thank you.

g November 29, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Craig just sounds like your typical Marine still under the influence of his indoctrination; given a few years that may wear off or at least moderate itself; as to the wikileaks, this kind of untempered publishing of classified material is irresponsible, and has probably cost lives of agents in the feild. I’m not a fan of the war in Iraq or Afganistan, assuming that the public was intentionally misled about “W.M.D.’s,” which, if true, would justify the war, but irresponsible actions like the wikileaks only kindles more greif and division.

Tom November 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm

I wonder if Wikileaks will release anything about the Global Depression? Then again, if they did, at this point would anybody care?

Tom November 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Another point to consider.

Robert Fisk asks a important question. If Wikileaks continues, does this mean that they replace the MSM (and the progressive as well)? Instead of spending money sending reporters to cover a story, we’ll let Wikileaks do our work for us. This then satisfies management. Maybe then we’ll keep our jobs and actually get a bonus as well.

All I’m seeing now is the MSM still trying to descredit both Assange and Wikileaks. I’m still seeing pointless turf wars between Wikileaks and other sites (Wayne Madsen, Cryptome, etc.). Do any of these sites understand that this is killing your potential support? Apparently not.

Tom November 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Question for Michael Ellsberg,

While I respect your dad for what he did with the Pentagon Papers, what does he think about the public’s reaction to Wikileaks’ releases so far? There’s been endless debate about it online. But other than that, I don’t see millions marching on the White House and filling up the D.C. jails to force a change.

What’s his theory on this? It’s one thing to keep saying Assange is a hero for his actions. But the other part is looking at actual results (if any) from said actions. At this point, I’m not seeing anything.

gsgs October 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm

why not just release only a small randomized sub-selection of the
400000 documents to the public now ?
So they could be more easily reviewed to remove risks for individuals.
The total information content as for the general war-picture
would still be the same – by statistics – given a true random selection.
Selected newspapers could still be given confidential access
to search all documents, but before quoting they had to agree to
review them and eliminate names and hints to identify the individuals.

Luke October 27, 2010 at 5:13 am

Dear Mr Ellsberg – you made me think again about the meaning of courage and what real patriotism means. I find that sometimes serving higher causes can be seen as clashing with short term interests of one’s country, but in the end, a person got to do what’s right and it often turns out to have been in the best interest of one’s country. The truth, is bigger than any one single nation or government.

Vivian Ellison October 26, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I want to help-who do I write to-we need grass roots groups to harness hearings in this country regarding our illegal aggression into Irag. I have watched BBC coverage of their hearings and heard Hans Blick say” this was an illegal war.” Whole world knows that. As stated in Dr. Ellsberg’s book “Secrets” the patterns of deceit and recklessness and cynicism were stunning” (regarding Vietnam secrets) same holds true for GW Bush administration buildup propaganda to Iraq war.. So far, a clean slate for all the damage they have done to Iraq and our country per costs to tax payer, thousands of our brave soldiers dead and over 100,00 civilians dead.

Secular One October 26, 2010 at 3:22 pm

@Craig Following your logic & reason the Tea Party members who claim to be unhappy with Government policy should also move to Iran where there is a Government of churchandstate.

bozh October 23, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Caveat: The following simplicities will be complexified by many americans:
( 1 we have lived in lawlessness for at least 10 k yrs; i.e., under diktats by small minority of people

(2 they have divided us into less- and more-valued; this representing the FIRST CAUSE OF AL ILLS, that befell us since that time on interethnic and interpersonal levels

(3 if this minority of the worst-behaved people among us remain unchallenged, the hell on earth it creates for us and aliens, may go on and on….

(4 its telos never changes; only weaponry, size of crumbs or amount of freedoms, work change

(5 the minority will always complexify every elucidating simplicity; while making out of enormous complexities simplicities.

(6 leaving a house person totally at sea
more cld be said. tnx

Chris Dowd October 23, 2010 at 10:29 pm


Just to add some more thoughts,

I live in Massachusetts, considered to be the epicenter of “liberalism” and the “left” in this country by many Americans. One might quibble with such characterizations of Massachusetts as being “liberal” considering the very staid conservative culture and society that dominates the New England region (there’s a deeper non political conservatism that exists in this area of the country that outsiders will never get) But yeah- we do have those liberal senators and congressmen. Don’t they oppose these wars? Nope. Not really. And that’s here- where doubt of government was born. I don’t see any significant segment of this country being “antiwar”. Talk to “liberals” around here and they will be bitching about some silly pet topic of theirs that matters nothing to nobody real.

Talk about an increasingly militarized society? Talk about a government that reserves the right to assassinate its own citizens for whatever “secret” reason they like? Get outraged over torture after nearly 400 years of it being a completely discredited and amoral practice that no civilized society engaged in ever for any reason? Fume with anger over a government that launches drones into sovereign nations we are not at war with in attacks that are every bit as indiscriminate as any terrorist attack?

Nope- not what “liberals” up here talk about at all. They talk of petty silliness – like their GOP counterparts- it just doesn’t sound as crazy. Petty and stupid- but not as crazy.

And when it comes to heaping paeans unto the warfare state of DC- Massachusetts liberals are second to no one in this regard. They may not like the timing of a particular war or they might quibble with the “conservatives” about which impoverished country on the other side of the globe is the bigger ‘threat’ but that is it. That is the limit of “debate” in this country on foreign policy.

Troy October 23, 2010 at 10:25 pm


End Timers are just part of the puzzle but they are not insignificant. 25 ~ 40% of the population say they believe Jesus will come back either in their lifetime or by 2050. This is a very powerful political force that policy makers can tap into. (This muscular Christianity was also deployed in the Vietnam era since it was framed that the US was saving the Catholic Vietnamese from being taken over by the anti-christian communist bloc.)

I agree that American Exceptionalism is a problem, but I think that’s applicable to every nation on this planet. Every people believe they are on the side of truth and light; it’s just human nature to believe the BS and root for the home team. One thing though is that the Religious Right has been very diligent in tying together their version of the Christian foundation of this nation and our “divine” mission in the world. I’ve seen their propaganda (wallbuilders.org) with my own eyes and it is a very powerful message.

Taken together, ~40% of this country are beyond the bend (Christine O’Donnell is still polling 40% support in DE). That leaves 60% for the Democrats and Republicans to fight over, with the Democratic coalition also claiming 40%.

So elections come down to winning this 20% of the uncommitted vote. These people are largely, shall we say, “underinformed” voters. I think this is why centrists like Clinton and Obama try to triangulate on the Republicans wrt foreign policy — it’s necessary to win elections. Same dynamic that buffaloed LBJ into escalating the Vietnam intervention — to be slimed as soft on communism/terrorism/XYZism is to fail to be reelected.

To move to a more moral policy is tough — “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

Chris Dowd October 23, 2010 at 9:11 pm


That’s a bit too convenient. End Timers and other interest groups that support these wars are inconsequential compared to the overall cult of “American Exceptionalism” that shrouds every American action abroad in the cozy warm light of “good intentions.” The problem is that we start from the idea that America is inherently good in everything it does and if “Mistakes” are made- they are just that- “mistakes”- in a larger “good cause”. Never- not for a second do we ever consider American actions to be fundamentally wrong or evil. We assume- automatically- American goodness in everything it does abroad.

And the fact that a “progressive” like Obama is waging these wars and even trying to expand them- while at the same time shielding Bush era war crimes from scrutiny and advancing legal arguments on Executive power that even Bush was too timid to claim sorta bursts your attempts to isolate American evil to a few whacko groups like End Timers. It is much deeper than just that.

We still have yet to come to terms with Vietnam and the atrocities committed in that war- we just walked away from it- made a few movies that showed how America was actually the victim in that war (Platoon, The Deer Hunter, Rambo) and couldn’t even imprison for more than a few months an American commander who personally participated in the killing of 500 women and children at Mai Lai. One state in this country might elect a man who executed two POWS in cold blood to Congress.

To change what ails this nation in foreign policy would require a level of introspection and self examination that Americans are simply incapable of in my estimation.

Troy October 23, 2010 at 8:49 pm

@Chris Dowd

perhaps for some people, their reaction is a coping mechanism. To internalize that eg. military intervening in Vietnam or Iraq turned out to be a mistake is a tougher branch to take than just castigating the naysayers and sticking to your guns.

Then there is the neocon ‘more rubble less trouble’ mindset that any disruption of the arab/islamic world advances the AIPAC/pro-Israel strategic interest.

Then there is all the evangelical end-timers, who welcome conflict with the mideast as that brings the Armageddon and the End Times/Rapture closer. Evangelical support for invading Iraq in 2003 was 77%, and since evangelicals form ~23% of the population that’s about 1 in 6 people in the US with these eschatological mindsets.

Then there’s the interest groups that either profit from war, insecurity, and neocolonial support of transnational business interests like BP and XOM.

Some people just want war, too.


Matthew Rogers October 23, 2010 at 8:26 pm

I find it fascinating that (neo) conservatives who claim to be against big government, and against government corruption, are the same people saying information about the governments actions in war should be censored, and we should *suddenly* trust the biggest government agency of all with a trillion dollar a year budget, and the power to kill hundreds of thousands of people, without oversight or accountability.

Shakes head in wonder at seeing that, that level of illogic is par for the course in the Washington establishment and mainstream corporate media.

Thank you Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for having the courage to expose ongoing U.S. war crimes and to Daniel Ellsberg for continuing to fight the good fight.

Chris Dowd October 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I try hard not to be insulting to people like Regina and Craig but it is getting more difficult to maintain my composure with such people. It is one thing to look at the cold hard truth of these wars and still support them- that is simply evil in my mind but at least honest evil. It is another thing entirely to demand to be kept ignorant of what the military or government does – and then castigate others for their lack of military centric patriotism (for people like craig and regina unconditional blind support of the sainted holy US military largely defines what they consider to be “patriotism”).

In essence what these people are asking is that they be lied to by the government – and that our politics and debates about these wars be dictated and framed by lies. I don’t get that mindset?

Could someone tell me when half this country went to Soviet Citizen training school?

Troy October 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

Assuming this latest leak is from Manning, one thing that strikes me is the difference between Spc Manning and Ellsberg, and the difference in what was taken through the classification barrier.

I’ve long thought that Ellsberg earned the right, through his decade-plus of government service, to make the judgment about releasing the true Vietnam history. He had worked with McNaughton (and thus was two rungs below Sec. McNamara) and later Kissinger. Ellsberg was also a commissioned officer in the USMCR in the 50s, too, and had spent significant time in Vietnam working within Lansdale’s country team, too. It would be hard to find someone as equipped to see the big picture on Vietnam and how much the public should know about it back in the late 60s.

Manning, on the other hand, was at the bottom of the Army totem pole (and an outsider at that), and able to find this sensitive collection of intelligence through being a junior hacker on the inside of the system, taking advantage of what appears to be horrendously loose information security, nothing like Ellsberg’s considered photocopying of the study he had secured rightful access to.

But both Manning and Ellsberg are far from the norm. Perhaps that’s what they have in common and why they chose to “screw “the system they served by releasing to the public what they could.

Troy October 23, 2010 at 9:14 am

I think one thing we need to learn from history is that ~30% of this country will always have a screw or two loose wrt the morality of war and how many people we should be able to kill in the national interest.. What Dr Ellsberg was combatting in the 1970s was the LeMay mindset that simply obliterating our enemies from the air was a viable national strategy. My quote from Senator Schurz a few posts down was directly in response to the same full-throated, uncritical patriotism that Craig expresses immediately below.

Schurz again:

“The man who in times of popular excitement boldly and unflinchingly resists hot-tempered clamor for an unnecessary war, and thus exposes himself to the opprobrious imputation of a lack of patriotism or of courage, to the end of saving his country from a great calamity, is, as to “loving and faithfully serving his country,” at least as good a patriot as the hero of the most daring feat of arms, and a far better one than those who, with an ostentatious pretense of superior patriotism, cry for war before it is needed, especially if then they let others do the fighting.” (interestingly, this cleanly ties into Goering’s famous quote 50 years later on how leaders and factions manipulate the larger populace into war)

These days the projection of our military power has come a lot cleaner for us than WW2 and the cold-war campaigns we fought in Asia. LBJ could no longer hide the war when we were losing over 300 servicemen (mostly draftees) a week, but these days our military has learned how to hide what it can from us. The costs of these wars are hidden from us by borrowing the money instead of taxing us (at least LBJ had the discipline to ask Congress for a 10% war surtax to pay for his unnecessary war). Our bloody mistakes are hidden by simply classifying them and keeping the press away from the events.

We have a lot of bad actors in this country. They are largely if not entirely beyond logic. But one thing I received from the Ellsberg documentary is the power of the concept of having No Enemies as expressed by Ms. Tschannerl.

Nixon kept an “Enemies List” and look where that got him.

People who refuse to understand this are either they are perhaps reliant on the military-industrial complex for their paychecks, or are fully committed on the wrong side of history in the P/I conflict, or hold to the “more rubble less trouble” mindset of the 20th century mass-murderers on our side.

Whatever the motivation, these people will always be with us.

griffibo October 23, 2010 at 8:12 am

Could you possibly be missing the point? There should be no soldiers lives at risk fighting a war that will not make Americans, Australians, Iraqis, Afghanis etc safe. There is no reason to be at war, and many reasons not to be at war.
Wikileaks is exposing this fact: That the war achieved nothing and in Afghanistan continues to achieve nothing. We removed Suddam but the regime of torture and oppression continues. We killed tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians. How many of your familiy have you seen blown to pieces so that you can live in a society full of depleted uranium, warlords, and oppression. Death, dispossession and oppression are not an ocean away from them. Open your eyes. Apply your reason. The USA is out of control and blind to its shortcomings. It will pay a price, but not before it makes the whole world pay for its stupidity and aggression.

Michael Ellsberg October 23, 2010 at 6:12 am

Note–while we greatly value intelligent, strenuous and civil debate on Ellsberg.net, I normally delete comments such as @Craig’s, which resort to name calling and ad hominem attacks. However, I have decided to let this one through (and may do so with more in the future) so readers can see this side of our country, which believes that anyone who seeks to expose the underbelly of US foreign policy is a traitor (or “trader,” as he puts it), and which has swallowed–hook, line and sinker–the whopper that our bloodshed in Iraq and Afghanistan is making us safer.

If you disagree with @Craig’s viewpoint, feel free to share your views, but please do so through rational argument, not (as he does) through name-calling and ad hominem attacks.

Craig October 23, 2010 at 3:20 am

I think you are just one big piece of crap Mr. Ellsberg. It is a shame you are still around to cause problems. Why don’t you just move out of this wonderful country. Maybe to Obama’s homeland. Then the 2 of you can rip on the US all you want. No one here will care. I am so sick of the traders in this country. We may have done some things that we shouldn’t have, but it’s not for you or any other so called US citizen to bring it up to the world. If the US did something like Hitler, then by all means go after it. The USA has not. Ellsberg go the F away and take your trader A$$ cohorts with you. That would include the President and his 1st chubby Lady. QUIT talking bad about our country. Worry about the frikin terrorists that want to kill us all. Do you or the President even remember what happened on 9/11/2001 or on 12/7/1941? I think you don’t. This country is GREAT and we need people like you and your other friends to just go the heck away.

Chris Dowd October 23, 2010 at 3:06 am


Thanks- you exemplify, perfectly, the mindset of most Americans in regards to the US government and its actions abroad- don’t know and don’t care and don’t want to know. Explains a great deal.

Troy October 23, 2010 at 1:38 am

“I confidently trust that the American people will prove themselves … too wise not to detect the false pride or the dangerous ambitions or the selfish schemes which so often hide themselves under that deceptive cry of mock patriotism: ‘Our country, right or wrong!’ They will not fail to recognize that our dignity, our free institutions and the peace and welfare of this and coming generations of Americans will be secure only as we cling to the watchword of true patriotism: ‘Our country—when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right.’

— Senator Schurz, one of the great Americans of the 19th century.

It’s a curious balance between betraying your security clearance(s) and betraying your country.

Not everyone is equipped to make this judgment. Pfc Bradley Manning I suspect was not. But a lot of bad things have been done in our names. If he was responding to this then I think this latest leak may turn out for the best.

“simply because it puts our American fighting men and women at risk”

If we had done nothing wrong then this would not be the case. It is our own wrong-doing that puts us in continued danger. This is obvious to some people, not so obvious to most, alas.

Andrew W October 23, 2010 at 12:57 am

It seems that Wikileaks learned a few lessons from the Afghan War Logs, particularly in playing down any news value. While these documents offer no bombshells to anyone who’s paid attention, they do add the crushing weight of conscience that, over the next generation, will make Presidents loathe to deploy a military ill-prepared for war.

Jay October 23, 2010 at 12:41 am

@Regina: “The general populace doesn’t need to know what the government does in times of war, and frankly shouldn’t be worrying about it.”

Wow, especially considering we will indefinitely be in “a time of war”, you have tremendous faith in your government to make good decisions. You’ll have to forgive the rest of us who don’t have undying trust in politicians like you do – believe it or not, some of us think the government can actually do wrong.

Michael Ellsberg October 23, 2010 at 12:25 am

@Regina – yes, the men and women fighting in our name our brave. But have you ever stopped to consider the possibility that the wars they’re been sent to fight in are making you, me, and your family and my family LESS safe, not more safe? And who truly puts our young men and women in uniform at risk–WIkiLeaks, or the leaders who send them to die in a counterproductive war?

Regina Phalange October 23, 2010 at 12:18 am

Chris Dowd –
The general populace doesn’t need to know what the government does in times of war, and frankly shouldn’t be worrying about it. They need to concentrate on their own lives; maybe not signing loan documents for mortgages they can’t afford, or raising their children to not be drooling idiots that can’t tell the difference between “your and you’re.” And the good majority of this country that you talk about needs to be grateful that what is happening is an ocean away, and that their freedom rests on the shoulders of these brave people fighting in America’s name. Personally, I am outraged at WikiLeaks for this release, simply because it puts our American fighting men and women at risk. THAT is the “impact” they will have, Sir. I hope you can sleep at night knowing that’s what you wished for.

Chris Dowd October 22, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Let’s hope they have an impact. But frankly- a good majority of this country will be more enraged at Wikileaks than the government. A good majority of this country doesn’t want to know what the government does in their name- and doesn’t care as long as it is out of sight and preferably an ocean away. We would sooner embrace yet even more heights of hysterical nationalism than spend one second looking at ourselves in the mirror.

Kjetil Høiseth October 22, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Second half of the interview should perhaps be added to the post for completion? =)


Leave a Comment