“The Most Dangerous Man in America:” Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers leaker and peace activist, on war, conscience & whistleblowers
This spring marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. Daniel Ellsberg was a key figure whose revelations contributed to the war’s end. Ellsberg is a former Marine and adviser on the Vietnam War to President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He is best known for provoking a national political crisis in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times, and other newspapers. The Pentagon Papers revealed that top US government officials had been lying about the Vietnam War to the American people.
For leaking the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was charged with theft, conspiracy and violations of the Espionage Act, but his case was dismissed as a mistrial when evidence surfaced about the government-ordered wiretappings of his phone and break-ins of his psychiatrist’s office.
Henry Kissinger referred to Ellsberg as “the most dangerous man in America,” but many view Daniel Ellsberg as hero who risked his career and even his personal freedom to help expose the deception of his own government in carrying out the Vietnam War.
Daniel Ellsberg is now 84 years old and remains active in the peace movement. I spoke with Ellsberg earlier this month at a conference in Washington DC about the lessons of the Vietnam War which featured a number of key leaders from the antiwar movement.