Pentagon Papers Leaker Daniel Ellsberg Praises Snowden, Manning | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Pentagon Papers Leaker Daniel Ellsberg Praises Snowden, Manning

Play associated audio

Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who in 1971 leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing the history of U.S. policy in Vietnam, tells NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday that unlike Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, he "did it the wrong way" by trying first to go through proper channels — a delay that he says cost thousands of lives.

"I really regarded [it] as anathema ... leaking as opposed to working within the system," Ellsberg says, speaking to NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "I wasted years trying to do it through channels, first within the executive branch and then with Congress."

"During that time, more than 10,000 Americans died and probably more than a million Vietnamese," Ellsberg says.

"That was a fruitless effort, as it would have been for Manning and Snowden," he says.

Ellsberg, an analyst with the RAND Corporation, leaked a study of U.S.-Vietnam relations from 1945-1967, known colloquially as the Pentagon Papers, handing over the document to The New York Times, The Washington Post and other newspapers.

The release of the Pentagon Papers proved politically embarrassing for President Richard Nixon and the Watergate break-in, which eventually led to Nixon's resignation, was part of a broader White House effort to identify the source of such leaks.

Ellsberg was eventually charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy, but the charges were later dismissed, unlike the case of Private Bradley Manning, who was convicted on similar counts last week for releasing secret diplomatic cables and other material to Wikileaks.

The decision to go public with the Pentagon Papers — which detailed a pattern of deception regarding Vietnam and the Vietnam War that spanned several presidential administrations – was a difficult one, according to Ellsberg.

"I decided it was worth a life in prison to do that," he says.

Asked whether he thinks Manning and Snowden, the CIA contractor who leaked details of secret U.S. electronic surveillance activities to The Guardian newspaper, had been discerning in what they chose to release publicly: "Yes, that's obvious with Snowden," he says.

"The public has been very misled about Manning, I would say," Ellsberg says. "They talk about his being indiscriminate. That's simply false. Like me and like Snowden, he had access to communications intelligence higher than top secret. He gave none of that out."

Since The Guardian's exposes, based on information obtained from Snowden, first broke in June, "the whole focus has been on the risks of truth telling, the risks of openness, which are the risks of democracy, of separation of powers," Ellsberg says.

"I've really heard nothing at all about the risks of closed society, of silence, of lies," he says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Getting On' Star Niecy Nash: 'I Never Wanted To Be Funny'

Nash says it took her a long time to see her comedic side as a gift, but she finally embraced it. Now her role as Nurse Didi in the HBO comedy series has opened the door to more serious opportunities.
WAMU 88.5

Hops Coming Home: Loudoun County To Add Hop Production Facility

The first commercial-scale hop production and processing facility in the region is being planned out in Loudoun County, further adding to the region's burgeoning beer business.

NPR

Families Feel Sidelined As U.S. Reviews Hostage Policy

The White House is reviewing how it handles hostage crises following the brutal murders of Americans abroad, but families of hostages say they're often left out of the conversation.
NPR

Marine Corps Finds It Tough To Shut Down Sexist Facebook Groups

Female Marines are being humiliated and generally degraded by their peers on Facebook. The groups' pages are frequently shut down, but return within days due to a dedicated following.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.