The Most Dangerous Man in America

The latest addition to the Video page is a film entitled, The Most Dangerous Man In America, directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith. This is what Henry Kissinger called Daniel Ellsberg in the followup of Ellsberg’s leaking the Pentagon Papers to Congress and the press describing the consistent, systematic lying about Vietnam coming from the administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and later by extension, Nixon. Ellsberg was a devoted cold war numbers crunching analyst working at the Rand Corporation completely in the thrall of the idea that the spread of communism was antithetical to democratic Western ideals and needed to be stopped by force of arms. After witnessing first hand the fabrication of evidence supporting a scale up of involvement in Vietnam by Johnson, Ellsberg began questioning the entire house of cards.

This discovery came first by remotely collecting data from military personnel on the ground in Vietnam, and then by participating as a civilian in full uniform and with arms in the conflict. Ellsberg eventually saw that the manufactured crises reported to the public were by and large ruses giving cover for what amounted to mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians by eventually the hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs dropped indiscriminately on the countryside of North Vietnam.

When the truth of this became understood, Ellsberg weighed his options and after witnessing the resolve of draft-dodgers willing to go to prison rather to an unjust war, he sought to “cast his whole vote,” as Thoreau had advised in Civil Disobedience, and find a way to exert his maximum influence on stopping the war. The Rand report that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers was the top secret history of the Vietnam War documenting the US involvement in the war from Truman through Johnson, and became the means by which Ellsberg would accomplish this. Leaking this report first to members of Congress, who largely ignored it, and then to the press, most notably the New York Times, the entire course of the war took a turn.  Nixon’s overstep trying to bring Ellsberg down played a role in Nixon’s own downfall. (Kissinger’s advice to Nixon, revealed in the Nixon tapes and captured in this film, was for me shocking. Kissinger told Nixon in no uncertain terms, Nixon should seek to de-escalate and end the war honorably to avoid being seen by the world as “a butcher.” Nixon escalated the war.)

This latest addition to the video page is an excellent rendition of this history. Howard Zinn, Richard Falk, Daniel Ellsberg, Anthony Russo, and a slew of interviews by many others involved in the work being conducted at Rand, in the government, or close to the participants in the leak tell the story of Ellsberg’s defection from the calculated brutality of cold war analytics that supported the deaths of tens of thousands of American soldiers and uncountable Vietnamese civilians to dedicated peace activist. It is a tale with deep relevance to our present state of affairs with our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the proliferation of deception, torture, profiteering, and official state lies.

I think one thing the people will conclude when they’ve read it is that they have not asked enough, they have not expected enough or demanded enough in the way of fullness, in the way of responsibility, from their public servants. Make that known and I think that our Constitution will continue to function better than it has been in the past. (Daniel Ellsberg in a nationally broadcast interview with Dick Cavett)

 

The courage we need is not the courage, the fortitude, to be obedient in the service of an unjust war, to help conceal lies… … it is the courage at last to face honestly the truth and the reality of what we are doing in the world and act responsibly to change it. (Daniel Ellsberg)

Advertisements

About sdemetri
Portland, Maine freelance photographer, writer, activist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: