POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 12, 2010
Daniel Ellsberg was called "the most dangerous man in America" by National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger in 1971 for leaking the Pentagon Papers, which revealed the secret U.S. escalation of the war in Vietnam and a public misled by a series of presidential administrations.
President Richard Nixon said shortly afterward, "We've got to get this son of a b----."
Ellsberg still is making waves and still is taking on presidents, including Barack Obama.
"We have a president who came in promising transparency in the campaign, and unfortunately, he has not delivered on that at all" in the areas of national security, defense and homeland security, said the 79-year-old California man.
"In all those fields, he (Obama) has really been at least as secretive as (former President George W.) Bush and in some respects, more so," Ellsberg said.
Ellsberg will be a guest tomorrow at the Davis Levin First Amendment Conference at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
The famed whistle-blower said the United States is a country of "diminishing democracy" and that it has been for years.
Daniel Ellsberg, tomorrow at Hilton Hawaiian Village, Coral Ballroom No. 3, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. $5 entry fee (youth scholarships available):
» 9:15 a.m.: Registration
» 10 to 11:30 a.m.: Screening of Ellsberg documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America"
» 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m.: A conversation with Daniel Ellsberg, including questions from the audience
» Walk-ins are welcome. Reservations are suggested to ensure a seat. Call 522-5906, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.acluhawaii.org/fac.
He noted that the nation's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not an issue in midterm election campaigns.
"That's, I'd say, a terribly dismaying verdict on the parties and the candidates but also on the people," he said. "They've accepted the notion that the law doesn't have to apply to the United States of America or to a president in the last 10 years."
Ellsberg also warned that he believes the U.S. House will try to pass a version of Britain's Official Secrets Act, which would have allowed the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for releasing thousands of pages of secret U.S. Afghanistan and Iraq war documents.
Bush authorized warrantless wiretapping on domestic phone calls and e-mails after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and Obama has continued using powers that Bush expanded, Ellsberg said.
Ellsberg spent three years in the Marine Corps, and later became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corp., under the delusion, he said, that a missile gap, now debunked, favored the Soviets.
He worked on the 7,000-page top-secret "Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68," later to become known as the Pentagon Papers, which was "a continuous record of governmental deception and fatally unwise decision-making, cloaked by secrecy under four presidents," Ellsberg said in his biography.
Fed up with the deception and the war, he photocopied the study and first gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and later The New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers.
Ellsberg was indicted on 12 felony counts and faced 115 years in prison, but Nixon's office had directed a Sept. 3, 1971, burglary of Ellsberg's doctor's office to gain information about him. That fact, and an illegal wire tap on Ellsberg, resulted in a dismissal of the charges.