democracynow on Jul 24, 2013
www.democracynow.org – Forty-one years ago, Beacon Press lost a Supreme Court case brought against it by the U.S. government for publishing the first full edition of the Pentagon Papers. It is now well known how The New York Times first published excerpts of the top-secret documents in June 1971, but less well known is how the Beacon Press, a small nonprofit publisher affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, came to publish the complete 7,000 pages that exposed the true history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Their publication led the Beacon press into a spiral of two-and-a-half years of harassment, intimidation, near bankruptcy and the possibility of criminal prosecution. This is a story that has rarely been told in its entirety.
In 2007, Amy Goodman moderated an event at the Unitarian Universalist conference in Portland, Oregon, commemorating the publication of the Pentagon Papers and its relevance today. Today, we hear the story from three men at the center of the storm: former Pentagon and RAND Corporation analyst, famed whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times; former Alaskan senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, who tells the dramatic story of how he entered the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record and got them to the Beacon Press; finally, Robert West, the former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. We begin with Ellsberg, who Henry Kissinger once described as “the world’s most dangerous man.”
Watch the full 50-minute segment and read the transcript: www.democracynow.org
AMY GOODMAN: Dan Ellsberg, why don’t you pick it up from there, and that is how what you did then relates to today. In the last few years, you have been calling for people, who like you 35 years ago were inside the system, to step outside and to release an equivalent of the Pentagon Papers. Do you think they exist—the papers and these people who could step forward?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Well, of course, the papers exist. The Pentagon Papers, the equivalent of them, exist in safes in Washington, all over Washington, not only in the Pentagon, but in the CIA and the State Department and elsewhere. Are there people who realize what the meaning of those—the full meaning of those papers in their safes? Yes. We know from many leaks and memoirs that have come out that there were people in the White House and the CIA and the Pentagon who realized that we were being lied into war. They realized that as early as 2001.
So my message, Amy, over the last two years has been to officials in that position, of whom there are hundreds, not only in 2001 and 2002, hundreds right now who could prevent a war with Iran that is on the tracks right now, that they know, and that they know would be disastrous. They could put that out with the authority of their position, but especially of documents, at the risk—the certainty—of losing their clearances, which would almost certainly—which would mean losing their career with the executive branch, possibly, very likely, subjecting them to prosecution, possibly to conviction, possibly to prison. And by taking that risk, they would have a high chance of averting a catastrophe that would lead to the deaths of tens, hundreds of thousands of people and disastrously reduce our security. They know that. So by taking their own personal risk, like the 5,000 people who went to prison as draft resisters in Vietnam, and by the people here who took risks with their institution and their privacy, by taking that risk they could avert this.
So my message is to them: Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait ’til the war has started. Don’t wait ’til the bombs have fallen against Iran, or earlier Iraq. Don’t wait ’til the engine of this war is unstoppable. Before the war, take the risk. Reveal what you know to be the truth. Reveal the truth under the lies of your own bosses and your superiors. Obey your oath to the Constitution, which every one of those officials took, not to the commander-in-chief, not to superior officers, but to the Constitution of the United States, which they know is being violated.