Remembering Daniel Ellsberg, 1931-2023 (February 2003 Speech in Houston)

Remembering Daniel Ellsberg, 1931-2023 (February 2003 Speech in Houston)

Daniel Ellsberg, Presente . . .

Today we’re all saddened to hear that Daniel Ellsberg had died. Ellsberg’s life is well-known, and he’s one of the more important figures in the history of American dissent and radicalism.

Listen in:

In February 2003, Green and Red co-host Bob Buzzanco was really lucky, and honored, to host Dan Ellsberg in Houston, where he talked about the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, the breakup of the Soviet Union, and the coming war against Iraq, and he finished by talking about his case and the need for whistleblowers in government.

And so, as we remember Dan Ellsberg’s magisterial contribution to the causes we care about, here are his words from 2003.


About Daniel Ellsberg//

Daniel Ellsberg was a Marine in the 1950s, took a Ph.D. at Harvard, and then joined the RAND corporation as an analyst. In 1964, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara brought in Ellsberg as an advisor and he was assigned to study pacification in Vietnam along with the legendary General Edward Lansdale. Ellsberg concluded that the war was not going well and would continue to deteriorate with the possibility of a victory for the northern, Communist forces quite possible.

In 1967, McNamara included Ellsberg in a group he had created to do a comprehensive study of the entire history of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, a role that would lead him to become one of the more dangerous men in that era, according to US government officials. After completing the study (in which Ellsberg didn’t have a huge role) he returned back to the RAND Corporation and became immersed in antiwar work.

By 1971, with the war still going on despite significant public opposition, Ellsberg made copies of the 7000-page report, known as “The Pentagon Papers,” and leaked it to the media. The Nixon administration immediately acted and charged Ellsberg with espionage, conspiracy and other crimes. The White House also tried to prevent publication of the Pentagon Papers but the Supreme Court upheld the right of the press to publish them.

By the time Ellsberg went to trial, Nixon’s attempts to discredit and ruin Ellsberg–including illegal wiretapping of Ellsberg, a government break-in of his psychiatrist’s office to steal his files, and an offer to the trial Judge to become director of the FBI if he found Ellsberg guilty–were so egregious that the judge threw the charges against him out.

From then on, Daniel Ellsberg was a constant presence when Americans protested against wars, nuclear power and nuclear weapons, wars and interventions, and many other issues. His legacy as a defender of press freedom and a voice for peace and justice won’t be forgotten, and we’ve seen his influence on the likes of Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Daniel Hale, Reality Winner, and others who’ve tried to warn us about the malignant actions of the state.

Outro- “The Ballad of Daniel Ellsberg” by Rulie Garcia



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