Whistle-Blowers: A Conversation with Ellsberg and Dean (2009)


Open Society Institute

Open Society Foundations

John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon, discusses the “excessive” amount of executive power made available to the U.S. presidency by former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. He also examines the Obama administration’s use of enhanced national security power.


What lessons do the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the “war on terror” offer about the abuse of power by the executive branch in times of national crisis?

Join Daniel Ellsberg, the RAND strategist whose leak of the Pentagon Papers helped bring down the Nixon presidency and end the Vietnam War, and John Dean, White House counsel to Nixon and later a key whistle-blower on the Watergate scandal, for a conversation about the perils — then and now — of presidential overreach and excessive secrecy.

The event, sponsored by the Open Society Institute National Security and Human Rights Campaign, comes on the eve of the U.S. premiere of the feature documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. Filmmakers Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith present clips from the film.

Ann Beeson, executive director for U.S. Programs at the Open Society Institute and former associate legal director at the ACLU, moderates the discussion with Ellsberg and Dean. – Open Society Institute

John Dean was White House Counsel to President Richard Nixon and became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. Despite his initial involvement, Dean became a key witness for the prosecution and was the first administration official to accuse Nixon of direct involvement with Watergate and the resulting cover-up. His accusations were confirmed when the secret White House tape recordings were made public. Dean’s cooperation with the investigation led to a reduction in his prison time.

But for Dean blowing the whistle on Nixon’s misdeeds it is highly questionable whether the Watergate scandal would have resulted in Nixon’s resignation.

Whistle-Blowers: A Conversation with Ellsberg and Dean


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