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.
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:
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Forty years ago today—June 13, 1971—the New York Times began publishing the top secret study which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.
Daniel Ellsberg talked with NPR on the anniversary:
June 13th, 2011, marks the 40th anniversary of the initial publication of the Pentagon Papers in the New York Times.
Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed for pieces in both the New York Times and CNN on the anniversary, and on the government’s decision to declassify the Papers.
In the New York Times piece, Daniel said:
It’s absurd. . . . The reasons [for keeping it secret all these years] are very clearly domestic political reasons, not national security at all. The reasons for the prolonged secrecy are to conceal the fact that so much of the policy making doesn’t bear public examination. It’s embarrassing, or even incriminating. . . .
It seems to me that what the Pentagon Papers really demonstrated 40 years ago was the price of [Congress giving its war powers to the President. . . . ] [L]etting a small group of men in secret in the executive branch make these decisions — initiate them secretly, carry them out secretly and manipulate Congress, and lie to Congress and the public as to why they’re doing it and what they’re doing — is a recipe for, a guarantee of Vietnams and Iraqs and Libyas, and in general foolish, reckless, dangerous policies.
In the CNN piece, which contains a longer interview with Daniel, he said:
Edited transcript of today’s Democracy Now interview with Daniel Ellsberg
ELLSBERG: The conditions under which Manning is being held clearly violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment—even for someone being punished, having been convicted. Here we have someone who has not yet been tried, not yet convicted, being held in isolation, solitary confinement, for something over 9 months. This is something that is likely to drive a person mad, and may be the intent of what’s going on here.
The Wikileaks revelations that Manning is charged with having revealed, having to do with Iraq, show that in fact the US military in which Manning was a part, turns over suspect to the Iraqis with the knowledge that they will be and are being tortured. Turning these suspects over, with that knowledge, is a clear violation of our own laws and of international law. It makes us as much culpable for the torture as if we were doing it ourselves.
[This statement by Daniel Ellsberg was published in the Guardian (UK), two days before P.J. Crowley was fired.]
President Obama tells us that he’s asked the Pentagon whether the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with leaking state secrets, “are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are.”
If Obama believes that, he’ll believe anything. I would hope he would know better than to ask the perpetrators whether they’ve been behaving appropriately. I can just hear President Nixon saying to a press conference the same thing: “I was assured by the the White House Plumbers that their burglary of the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s doctor in Los Angeles was appropriate and met basic standards.”
When that criminal behavior ordered from the Oval Office came out, Nixon faced impeachment and had to resign. Well, times have changed. But if President Obama really doesn’t yet know the actual conditions of Manning’s detention – if he really believes, as he’s said, that “some of this [nudity, isolation, harassment, sleep-deprivation] has to do with Private Manning’s wellbeing”, despite the contrary judgments of the prison psychologist – then he’s being lied to, and he needs to get a grip on his administration.