Ellsberg was interviewed by USA Today on the Wikileaks documents here:
Even Daniel Ellsberg said releasing the documents to anyone with a computer connection raised questions beyond those that faced him when he turned over most of the Pentagon Papers to congressional committees and then The NewYork Times in 1971.
“I had read all of those, of course, and I did make the judgment that there was nothing in there that was going to harm national security or individuals,” Ellsberg, now 79, said in a telephone interview from Mexico. He was there to attend a screening of a documentary about himself called The Most Dangerous Man in America. “With a vast amount of information like this, it’s hard to imagine that there was a very considered decision in releasing all of it.”
Assange’s judgment would be “tested,” he said.
On balance, though, Ellsberg said he supported the decision to put the documents in the public realm.
“To think that all the risks are only on the side of releasing it would be mistaken,” he said. “Continued secrecy does put a lot of American and Afghan lives at risk.”
Daniel Ellsberg was interview for CNN’s Afghanistan blog here:
I think what the Pentagon Papers showed with 7,000 pages was that there was a lack of any good reason for doing what we were doing,” Ellsberg told CNN. “My strong expectation is these 92,000 pages will not convey any good reason for the dying and killing and the enormous money we’re spending over there in a time we cannot afford it. . . .
They’d be well-advised to postpone that vote until Congress has time to digest the gist of this story and hold hearings of the kind they never held on Afghanistan in nine years, and really challenge the administration to give any basis on why we’d do better than the Soviets in their 10 years, or the United States in the last nine years.
ELLSBERG: There hasn’t been an unauthorized disclosure of this magnitude since the Pentagon Papers 39 years ago. I’ve been waiting for it for a long time.
There should have been the Pentagon Papers of Iraq and a lot of other places. And I wish there had been Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan earlier than this. But better late than never, the war is still on. Congress is just being challenged now to vote $33 billion more to a war that’s cost $300 billion so far, in a war where the opponent we’re fighting is stronger than it’s ever been before. So the analogy to the war I was helping to expose is very close.
KING: How do you respond to the White House assertion that this leak puts U.S. forces in danger?
ELLSBERG: You know, the people who put U.S. forces in harm’s way—100,000 men and women in Afghanistan—are the last two administrations, but particularly this one, with a decision to escalate the war. I think it takes a lot of –I don’t know what to say—chutzpah, effrontery, for people who made the reckless, foolish, and I would say irresponsible decisions to escalate a war that I’m sure they know internally is as hopeless as these new revelations reveal it to be.
And yet, they’re preferring to send men and women into harm’s way to die and to kill civilians and others in a war that I think they perceive is endless and hopeless, rather than to face the accusations of generals that they have, these politicians have lost a war that the generals claimed is winnable. They claimed that very foolishly.
I’d say that was exactly the same as the boss I served in 1965, Lyndon Johnson. He didn’t want the General Johnson, the chief of staff of the Army, and others to resign if he didn’t give them enough of what they were asking for. I think President Obama has made the same terrible error.
ELLSBERG: I think you won’t find in those 92,000 pages any reason, any basis for believing that we’re going to be more successful in the next nine years or nine months or whatever than we were in the last nine months. And that’s something for the Congress, I think, to consider very strongly before they vote for money for this war.
ELLSBERG: I agree that there are things that should be kept secret. I think it was mistaken—wrong for the Bush administration to reveal the name of Valerie Plame, the covert operator who is working against proliferation during work that required secrecy, just to punish her husband for telling the truth.
To put her name out was a mistake. I think it was wrong to reveal that we were listening in on Osama bin Laden’s communications. I believe Senator Shelby of Alabama was a factor in that.
I think it was wrong for Condoleezza Rice to confirm that we had a mole high up next to Osama bin Laden. Not very good for that double agent’s health.
It could be there could be things in [the WikiLeaks archive] that I would agree and that others would say shouldn’t have been put out. But that remains to be seen.
The fact is that when it comes to judgment as to what should be secret and what should not be secret, Julian Assange’s judgment has been pretty good so far. I don’t think he’s made any mistakes that I’ve seen so far, as in that video of the Apache helicopter that they kept wrongly secret for years.
And I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to the people in the government who decided to keep that video secret and to keep these cables secret.
The full transcript of Ellsberg’s appearance on Larry King Live is here.
AMY GOODMAN: Are you calling for Wikileaks to post the [Garani massacre] videotape online?
ELLSBERG: I’d call for President Obama to post that videotape online. Let’s see whether it confirms what his officials and the Bush officials said about it earlier, or what the truth is. Has he seen it himself? He certainly should. He has access to it. And if he does, what excuse would he have for not revealing it? So why is he waiting for Wikileaks to use its sources to decrypt that, when he can just easily release it, as he should have some time ago?
It raises the same questions—and I hope they’ll be addressed this time, as they were not addressed, for the [Iraq] Apache helicopter assault that you just saw. Namely, who was it who decided that this was not suitable for Freedom of Information Act release, that it deserved classification on national security grounds? Was that appealed upwards when Reuters was applying for that? Did President Obama himself take a position on that? And if not, who below him? What were the criteria that led to denying this to the public? And how do they stand up when we actually see the results? Is anybody going to be held accountable for wrongly withholding evidence of war crimes in this case and the refusal to prosecute them or hold anyone accountable?
More seriously, two members of that same company of the Apache assault—Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord, I think their names—who did an absolutely admirable move, stimulated by Assange’s release and perhaps Bradley Manning’s release of this videotape–they expressed remorse to the Iraqi people for their participation in the activities of this company. Ethan McCord was the very man—I don’t know if you showed him just now—who actually got the two wounded children, ran off and got the two wounded children from the vehicle, and saved their lives. And both of them expressed great remorse for what they’d done and made the statement, from their experience, that this sort of massacre was an everyday occurrence. Now that’s what requires a real investigation. Is that being done? The same will be true of Garani.
And finally, for the press to look at, what were they reporting at the time? What was the government saying about these two massacres? How does it stand up when we relook at the facts? And what is the media to make of their own inability to penetrate behind those facts and leave it to Wikileaks? Question: would any mainstream media have released either of those videos if it had been handed to them by Bradley Manning or whoever the leaker was? I don’t know the answer to that, but that’s something they should look at.
What are the rules of engagement that permitted these two massacres? And how many other massacres are they generating? The fact is, for nine years now, we’ve been hearing military estimates of how many militants are being killed, as opposed to civilians, with allegedly the civilians being a much smaller proportion. People on the ground, the local people, give absolutely reversed figures, enormous figures for civilians. We claim that we don’t have the ability to go into those denied areas, despite our wonderful progress in the areas. We’re not able to get in there to determine the facts, in many cases. Well, we now know that videos exist that give results very different from what the military were claiming, and could have done so all along. So this is a wonderful opportunity, at last, to judge the honesty or dishonesty of the military figures and get a real sense of how many civilians we’ve actually killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In an interview with the Daily Beast and with MSNBC, Daniel Ellsberg—who was the target of a White House hit squad himself in 1972—expressed fear that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s life is in danger:
Also, CBS News has a piece about Daniel’s support of antiwar congressional candidate Marci Winograd here. And Daniel tells Der Spiegel that, Obama is “in some key aspects is nothing other than the third term of the Bush administration.” And he speaks with Antiwar.com Radio about Bradley Manning and the Obama administration’s prosecution of whistleblowers here.
I just learned that my friend Howard Zinn died today. Earlier this morning, I was being interviewed by the Boston Phoenix, in connection with the release in Boston February of a documentary in which he is featured prominently. The interviewer asked me who my own heroes were, and I had no hesitation in answering, first, “Howard Zinn.” [More. . .]
“Coercive Diplomacy” in the Light of Vietnam written November 9, 1970. An analysis of the Rolling Thunder bombing campaign against North Vietnam as an experiment in coercion, wrongly inspired by Kennedy’s successful threats in the Cuban Missile Crisis.