The Admirable Demonstration of Dan Tehan And Other…

Apparently, Dan Tehan was on QandA last night. I only know this…

Condensed Fun Facts, Dates, Myths/Misconceptions

By Richard Whitington Fun Referendum Facts Fun Referendum Facts #1: The ballot paper for…

Cannabis: We can shut up, toe the line,…

When President Obama commented that he thought cannabis was likely less dangerous…

Corruption suspicions hang over secret PNG refugee contracts

Refugee Action Coalition Media Release AUSTALIA’S SECRET PNG DEAL MUST BE INVESTIGATED Refugee advocates…

Dianne Feinstein: National Security State Diva

The tributes for the late Democratic Senator from California, Dianne Feinstein, heaped…

Media Alert - Refugees Say "Fair Go, Albo"

A protest vigil will be held for 4 days at the electoral…

The Voice reveals the urgent need for truth…

The fact that Elon Musk has just halved his election integrity team…

Desperate refugees hold their ground

In Melbourne, there have been rolling protests by refugees outside the electoral…


Daniel Ellsberg: The Establishment’s Whistleblower

In 1972 Stanley K. Sheinbaum, chairman of the Pentagon Papers Fund, wrote with a hot pertinence that remains striking (at this time Julian Assange is facing grave prospects of being extradited to the United States) that both Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo had “struck a blow for us all when they gave the Pentagon Papers to the press and to the Senate: against the war in Vietnam and against new adventures in Cambodia, Laos, or elsewhere.” And more besides, including striking against government secrecy in both domestic and foreign policy and directing a blow “for freedom of the press, freedom of the American people to be informed of what crimes their government might be committing in their name.”

The Nixon administration was mustard keen to bang up Ellsberg for what would have been 115 years, and Russo for 35. The charges, absurd reading then as they are now, were for conspiracy, espionage, and larceny. Central to this particularly vicious effort on the part of President Richard Nixon and his inner circle was the release of the Pentagon Papers, a government document running into 7,000 pages that was much at odds with public statements made by respective presidential administrations on US involvement in the Indo-China War. Both men had been analysts and researchers at the RAND Corporation, with the former tasked with nuclear wargaming scenarios. Russo had aided Ellsberg in the mammoth task of copying the papers.

The treatment dished out by the US national security state was very much the blueprint for what is taking place against the WikiLeaks founder. Initial indictment, followed by further grand jury hearings, followed by another round of indictments. As Sheinbaum remarked, the absurdity of the charges was self-evident. “Conspiracy against whom?” he asked. “The American people to whom the documents belonged in the first place? The press to whom the Pentagon Papers were given – not sold – so that they could better inform the people on how a succession of administrations had deceived them and wasted this country’s lives, resources, and honor?”

The case, thankfully, collapsed. The presiding judge, William M. Byrne Jr., even before the jury’s verdict was in, dismissed the action in May 1973, citing serious government misconduct (the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist had been burgled by the infamous “White House Plumbers”), not to mention illegal wiretapping. As part of that most Nixonian of sagas, the judge also revealed that he had been offered the role of FBI director by John Ehrlichman, the President’s assistant for domestic affairs.

Initially in agreement with policies in the Cold War rollback of communism, Ellsberg came to have trouble with the narrative of one’s country, right and wrong. In a sense, he became something of a model whistleblower: a figure initially besotted, a believer in the role of US power, only to then find evidence at odds with that belief.

While working at RAND, he visited Haverford College in August 1969, where his attendance at a conference of the War Resisters’ International proved turning. He had initially found the participants, as he recalls in his memoir Secrets, unduly simplistic, unnecessarily negative, dogmatic and extremist. It took a demonstration outside the trial of draft resister Bod Eaton to invest him with necessary confidence. “I had become free of the fear of being absurd, of looking foolish, for stepping out of line.”

Then came a moving talk by peace activist Randy Kehler. The impression left by Kehler, far from being banally corny and naff, helped complete the Damascene conversion: the RAND employee would commit to the task of ending a war effort he had been complicit in advancing. His establishment skin would be sloughed.

As Spencer Ackerman observes, the strength of Ellsberg’s whistleblowing was the locus of power; it came from a figure so highly placed in the national security apparatus he had the ear of presidential advisors. In the post-9/11 era, there has been no equivalent, no reputational shedding of skin. The leaks and disclosures have come from such individuals as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Daniel Hale, all vitally important, yet all several steps removed from the centre of power. “The people of Ellsberg’s equivalent rank and early-career promise more typically chose to serve the War on Terror, not resist it, going along with atrocities abroad and democratic destabilization at home.”

Ellsberg’s tenacious advocacy for Assange, for whom he acted as witness in the extradition trial in September 2020, was fortifying. “My own actions in relation to the Pentagon Papers and the consequences of their publication have been acknowledged to have performed such a radical change of understanding,” he outlined in his statement to the court. “I view the WikiLeaks publications of 2010 and 2011 to be of comparable importance.”

He also warned about that most odious feature of the Espionage Act of 1917, upon which 17 of the 18 charges against Assange have been framed. Motivation, he recalled in his own 1973 trial, was dismissed by government lawyers as irrelevant: the offences imputed “strict liability”. As he told the Central Criminal Court in London, the Act effectively disallowed genuine whistleblowing to permit “you to say you were informing the polity. So I did not have a fair trial, no one since me had a fair trial on these charges and Julian Assange cannot remotely get a fair trial under those charges if he was tried.”

As he revealed in December 2022, Ellsberg had been the WikiLeaks “backup” for releasing the documents that were eventually published in 2010. Assange, he told the BBC Hardtalk program, “could rely on me to get it [the information] out.”

In any final reflections on what Ellsberg did, the conscientious duty of a figure to disclose evidence of government misconduct, to enlighten the citizenry more broadly as political agents rather than obedient subjects, shines. “From the point of view of a civilization and the survival of eight or nine billion people, when everything is at stake, can it be worth even a small chance of having a small effect?” he reflected in an interview with Politico. “The answer is: Of course.”


Like what we do at The AIMN?

You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.

Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!

Your contribution to help with the running costs of this site will be gratefully accepted.

You can donate through PayPal or credit card via the button below, or donate via bank transfer: BSB: 062500; A/c no: 10495969

Donate Button


Login here Register here
  1. New England Cocky

    It is perhaps ironic that both Julian Assange and Donnie Trumpery are charged under the same legislation, the Espionage Act (1917) USA.


  2. Roswell

    Free Julian, NEC. But not Trump. Oh how nice it is to refer to him as “defendant Trump”.

  3. Max Gross

    It’s obvious the US wants Assange dead, one way or another, for exposing its war crimes and deceits

  4. Clakka

    Since US citizen Chelsea Manning confessed to passing the info to Assange and had her 35 year sentence commuted by President Obama to 7 years already served. No pursuit of publishers The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel. Instead we see layer upon layer upon layer of apparent crimes perpetrated by the state and its agents in seeking to in any way possible, capture and indict Julian Assange.

    In the subsequent decade, do we see any evidence of the state judiciary pursuing prosecution for the state’s layers of apparent crimes and the original crimes? No we don’t. In the alternative, we see the apparent chauvinistic manipulation and dogged political coercion by Assange’s current incarcerators, and the state exposed. The whole world bears witness to all of this and the brutal shambles of exceptionalism and bastardry of the state’s dysfunctional political system as it brings the country to its knees and drags innumerable victims with it.

    Many see without the need of five eyes.

    Free Julian.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 2 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here

Return to home page
%d bloggers like this: