The Post and the leaker: Daniel Ellsberg speaks

The Post is a new Hollywood movie about the dramatic decision by the Washington Post (together with the NY Times) to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The movie features Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep. The real-life star of this drama was Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret history of the Vietnam War to the newspapers. Ellsberg was a former Marine and adviser on the Vietnam War to Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  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 wiretaps of his phone and break-ins of his psychiatrist’s office.

Daniel Ellsberg is now 86 years old and remains active in the peace movement. I interviewed Ellsberg in 2015, when this originally aired on the Vermont Conversation. (January  17, 2018 broadcast)

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers leaker

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“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.