With the final military withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, a few state legislators in the U.S. are reconsidering the use of their National Guard units for undeclared foreign wars, like the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nearly half of the troops deployed to both countries over the past 20 years were from the National Guard and reserves. Special correspondent Mike Cerre reports.
The Committee gave its Defender of Liberty Award to Daniel Ellsberg on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on the Pentagon Papers. The rise of whistleblowers is born of Congress abdicating its constitutional responsibility to conduct oversight of the executive branch. Congress readily surrenders to executive claims of state secrets, executive privilege or the executive’s putative national security genius. Before delivering the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, Ellsberg sought in vain to have them publicized by Senators William Fulbright, George McGovern, Charles Mathias and Gaylord Nelson. Despite the Speech or Debate Clause constitutional protection, none, in the end, was willing.
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are guardians of the imperial presidency. Their kid-gloves oversight spawned Edward Snowden’s revelations of National Security Agency privacy abuses and Defender of Liberty Award winners John Kiriakou and Alberto Mora who blew the whistle on the Bush Administration’s torture programs during the Iraq War. After a belated torture investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee meekly bowed to the Obama Administration and self-censored its damning report.
Filmmakers Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrlich will discuss their documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers “. The title comes from Henry Kissinger’s description of Ellsberg after he exposed five successive administrations lying to the American people about the Vietnam War. The Committee celebrates the whistleblower who jumps into the breach to fight those who endanger the American Republic. Before our discussion with the filmmakers, be sure to watch their accounting of the man who took great personal risks to stop the Vietnam War at mostdangerousman.org. (Edward Snowden was influenced by the film before acting as a whistleblower.)
Ellsberg’s greatest regret is his failure to release a second Pentagon Papers to stop nuclear war. In his ground-breaking 2017 book “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear Planner”, Ellsberg discloses the omnipresent harrowing danger of regional U.S. commanders given authority to use nuclear weapons offensively. That makes every day another potential Cuban Missile Crisis or worse. Ellsberg exposes the delusional mentality that the credibility of the American nuclear umbrella justifies risking nuclear winter and exterminating the species. General Thomas Power, commander of nuclear forces from 1957-1963, bugled: “If at the end of the [nuclear] war, there are [but] two Americans alive and one Russian, we win.”
Last month, Ellsberg revealed in the New York Times our military’s eagerness in 1957 to initiate nuclear war against China over the inconsequential island of Quemoy located on the coast of mainland China. Ellsberg wishes to challenge the constitutionality of the Espionage Act to warn American citizens against the danger of seven decades of presidents advocating a nuclear first strike policy. In policing the world, every day American presidents roll dice with your life!
Former Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) died yesterday at 91. He was a major hero of the antiwar movement several times over.
Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times; they began publishing them on June 13, 1971 The U.S. Justice Department immediately tried to halt publication, on the grounds that the information revealed within the papers harmed the national interest. Within the next two weeks, a federal court injunction halted publication in The Times; The Washington Post and several other newspapers began publishing parts of the documents, with some of them also being halted by injunctions; and the whole matter went to the US Supreme Court for arguments. Ellsberg then went to Senator Gravel to release them in the Senate. Gravel had recently led Senate filibusters against renewal of the military draft. Gravel was able to read them into the Congressional Record, putting them into the public domain under the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution which gives congressional members immunity from prosecution. (see Wikipedia). Eventually, the Supreme Court ruled that the government could not restrict publication.
In July 1971, at age 17, I attended the founding convention of the People’s Party, a coalition of antiwar minor political parties preparing to challenge the pro-war Democratic Party in the 1972 election. I was a national organizer for the party, having spent several months traveling around the country recruiting organizations to join the coalition. Senator Gravel accepted an invitation to attend the convention and give the keynote speech. I was assigned to be aide-de-camp for him during his visit. I picked him up at the Dallas airport and spent two days with him at the convention.
The Pentagon Papers launched a decades‐long fight over how to protect the public from threats while respecting the public’s right to know how government works. Patrick Eddington and Julian Sanchez discusses the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers.