Daniel Ellsberg: The most dangerous man in America

This week, a high-ranking spokesman for WikiLeaks, the self-described “whistle-blowing website,” stepped down, citing a disagreement over the direction of the organization. You’ll remember the website’s controversial release this past summer of secret documents revealing facts about the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, which included the names of Afghans working with the United States.

At the time, people compared the WikiLeaks dustup to the release of the Pentagon Papers by Vietnam War whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg. And even Ellsberg himself made the comparison. But there is at least one difference: The release, in 1971, of the top-secret U.S. government study on the prosecution of the war in Vietnam shook the country, while the Wikileaks release created only a brief flurry.

At the time, Henry Kissinger called Daniel Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America,” and nearly 40 years later, the PBS series POV will present a documentary of the samename. Ellsberg joined Need to Know to discuss the film and his decision to release the Pentagon Papers in light of recent events.

Related:

POV: The “Most Dangerous Man in America” airs Tuesday, October 5

POV: Filmmakers Rick Goldsmith and Judith Ehrlich on the parallels between Vietnam War and Afghanistan

Watch the trailer:

See more POV.

 

Comments

  • LeeM

    It is disingenuous, even a little deceitful, for Jon Meacham to use his intro to the Daniel Ellsberg segment to take a cheap shot at Wikileaks, then not even ask Ellsberg his opinion of Wikileaks. Meacham, of course, knows that Ellsberg would have strongly defended the contribution of Wikileaks in carrying on his own work as a vital whistleblower against government wrongdoing. Meacham keeps the Ellsberg interview within the safe confines of a movie review of the upcoming POV documentary film on Ellsberg as “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Ellsberg has strongly endorsed what Wikileaks is doing, but from Meacham’s interview, we might have concluded that he disapproves of its activities. Meacham tried to suggest that Wikileaks is in some kind of crisis because a top spokesman, Daniel Schmidt, has left and criticized Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In fact, Schmidt also states, “There needs to be a thousand Wikileaks.” Need to Know is doing some good journalism. I look forward to a full hour on unemployment next week and hearing Robert Reich’s take on it. But Meacham continues to remind us why some think he was PBS’ conservative alternative to Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio.

  • LeeM

    It is disingenuous, even a little deceitful, for Jon Meacham to use his intro to the Daniel Ellsberg segment to take a cheap shot at Wikileaks, then not even ask Ellsberg his opinion of Wikileaks. Meacham, of course, knows that Ellsberg would have strongly defended the contribution of Wikileaks in carrying on his own work as a vital whistleblower against government wrongdoing. Meacham keeps the Ellsberg interview within the safe confines of a movie review of the upcoming POV documentary film on Ellsberg as “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Ellsberg has strongly endorsed what Wikileaks is doing, but from Meacham’s interview, we might have concluded that he disapproves of its activities. Meacham tried to suggest that Wikileaks is in some kind of crisis because a top spokesman, Daniel Schmidt, has left and criticized Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. In fact, Schmidt also states, “There needs to be a thousand Wikileaks.” Need to Know is doing some good journalism. I look forward to a full hour on unemployment next week and hearing Robert Reich’s take on it. But Meacham continues to remind us why some think he was PBS’ conservative alternative to Bill Moyers and David Brancaccio.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lhatfieldsouthern Linda Hatfield-Southern

    I think that the precedent that was created with Ellsburg paved the way for Woodward and Bernstein and the Washington Post to push so hard with Watergate.

  • Anonymous

    I find some similarity between the WikiLeaks Afghan documents publication
    and the Pentagon papers. with one big difference Mr Ellsberg was Government employee prepared to put his own name and reputation on the line as a whistle blower.
    Mr Assange and his associates wont even name who helped get the data.
    to me therefore:-
    Ellsberg = national patriotism
    Wkileaks amounts to sedition and Treason,because you are behaving exactly as a spy would do Only worse you are telling the world.
    Both to me demonstrate a huge flaw in the US government secrecy laws, and the requirement of govrnment officials not to become CNN or Foxnews ADVANCE of private poilicy and committee meeting in the US house or Senate. I really do like the idea of all house representatives and senate voters votes being anonymous.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

  • Madams12

    Just wondering if there is or will be any discussion by Ellsberg or associates to discuss the ongoing hostage holding of the world’s most forgotten yet essential Whistle-blower, Mordechai Vanunu? I was there with him on day of his release from 18 yrs in mossad prison for telling the world that Israel has WMDs..an entire arsenal of nuclear, thermonuclear and neutron bombs…but not an NPT signatory and NEVER had IAEA inspection ..not in 50 yrs. Why the US msm in general and recognized American whistleblower ‘heroes’ like Ellsberg never mention VANUNU’s name. He lives for the day he can be truly FREE and leave the country that holds him prisoner on his own dime. He wants to leave. He cannot even visit Bethlehem for Christmas eve –IDF /police refuse him because it is a “foreign country” and VANUNU has no passport…is stateless, just as millions of Palestinians. When will this become a topic of conversation for the most famous whistle blower in the US? NOW OR NEVER!…please.!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eileen-Fleming/100000169463297 Eileen Fleming

    Daniel’s “friend, brother, hero” Mordechai Vanunu, the whistle blower of Israel’s WMD program told me:

    “When I became the spy for the world, I did it all for the people of the world. If governments do not report the truth, and if the media does not report the truth, then all we can do is follow our consciences. Daniel Ellsberg did, the woman from Enron did, and I did.

    “The Israelis have 200 atomic weapons and they accuse the Palestinians and Muslims of terrorism. The Dimona is 46 years old; reactors last 25 to 30 years.

    “The Dimona has never been inspected and Israel has never signed the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty but all the Arab states have.

    “Twenty years ago when I worked there they only produced when the air was blowing towards Jordan ten miles away. No one knows what is happening now. The world needs to wake up and see the real terrorism is the occupation and the Palestinians have lived under that terror regime for 40 years.

    “The United States needs to wake up and see the truth that Israel is not a democracy, unless you are a Jew. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where America can right now find nuclear weapons.

    “America can also find where basic human rights have been denied Christians: right here in Israel. The time has come for the United States to see the truth of Zionism. It began as a secular nationalist movement, not a religious one. Then some Christians believed that when Israel became a nation, it was the beginning of the second coming. They are deluded if they believe peace will come through atomic weapons. Atomic weapons are holocaust weapons. Christians should be the first people against them.”

    Eileen Fleming, Producer “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu”
    Founder of WeAreWideAwake.org
    Staff Member of Salem-news.com
    A Feature Correspondent for Arabisto.com and Dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/
    Author of “Keep Hope Alive” and “Memoirs of a Nice Irish American ‘Girl’s’ Life in Occupied Territory” and BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu’s FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010
    http://www.youtube.com/user/eileenfleming

  • Anonymous

    This is inspiring because it represents the conscious and conscientious reversal of roles in these times of violence and repression…we need our whistle-blowers today more than ever, because they have been to the edge and they see the danger. So many non-combat deaths among soldiers and vets can’t be simply dismissed, all hearts and minds are needed to effect a turning point. Some impressionable person maybe was paid to “cognitively infiltrate” me, but (s)he can turn and grasp that these wars today are just devouring servicemen and victims, soul by soul, for lies.
    The messenger and the message sound stronger still because even those in authority: playing a role of invincible oppressor, have thought and will at every moment, to chose sides, to side with truth.

  • Cagey123

    dead,wounded,missing in action. dead, wounded,missing in action.that’s what i remember,grade school,jr. high. kent state was the last straw in a shakey agrument for blind faith.

  • entrepreneur

    Spoken like someone with somthing to hide. I bet you don’t want government officials to have any accountability either so only propaganda is available. Great…another American that wants to control the world.

  • entrepreneur

    Spoken like someone with somthing to hide. I bet you don’t want government officials to have any accountability either so only propaganda is available. Great…another American that wants to control the world.

  • indiana

    Anyone who didn’t know the Bush lies about Iraq is a stupid sheep, following their master blindly and having NO wisdom. From my home in middle US I could tell he was lying. He led the US off a cliff of insolvancy putting the Iraq war on credit…and missed the mastermind of the 9/11 attack. BAHHHH, BAHHH

    Look at the corruption in courts today to see the demise of our republic from within. An attorney in Peru Indiana says that the courts there have become a “competition to see who can get away with the biggest lie”. Indiana courts are certifying known fraud…but it has to come from an attorney, not pro se.

  • wildthang

    It was a good try like I think perhaps Johnson also tried in the ’68 Paris Peace Conference, sacrificing his attempt for re-election only to have the negotiations cut out from under him so we could have years and years more of war… no everything is much more managed in order to give lean and mean and long wars instead of big fat wrong wars…. it always starts the same though…
    with lies… first the CIA paves the way then we just move right on in,,,

  • Horsebaker

    watching todays interview of bob woodward on
    c.rose was an exercise in futility. So the “hero” of
    watergate is now a gov’t stooge. Never have I heard two
    persons who love to hear themselves talk say so little
    of consequence. I’m no obama defender at this point,but
    basically they are casting obama as water under the bridge,
    ‘not a real war-time president’. We haven’t been at war since
    vietnam or korea and they weren’t wars but occupations or
    exercises in containment against MUCH weaker adversaries.
    How can a whole F#*king cntry buy into this crap, we are at war.
    BS !!!
    I agree the meacham guy is/was behaving as an *ss. Putting
    ellsberg in his place…”you do agree that gov’ts have to have some
    secrets???”
    Well duhh…its just a matter of whether or not you want to trust
    cia ops that murder with out evidence based on SECRET findings
    and including torture and MAYHEM!
    Its too bad kennedy didn’t put them all away in 63…but no
    they had to destroy the reputation of someone who devoted his
    life to being a loyal intel agent. Carried the info on how to shoot down
    the U-2 spyplane to the russkies, just so the cia’s intel estimate would
    appear correct hence they could inflate the military budget with no
    interference. And the same thing has been going on since then. We are
    captive to the secret team, presently managed by the descendants of the
    LIBERTY LEAGUE those who would have staged a coup against FDR
    for the benefit of bankers

  • harry

    I really liked this documentary, Dan had a lot of courage to follow his believes and buck the government. If the Germans had a person like Dan during world war 2 maybe there would have been a movement to stop Hitler from his massacre .