Kevin Gosztola and Daniel Ellsberg: Guilty of Journalism + Things to Learn from Daniel Ellsberg, by David Swanson

Daniel Ellsberg at The Most Dangerous Man in America

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr

Dandelion Salad
March 9, 2023

Shadowproof on Mar 7, 2023

Shadowproof and Project Censored present a conversation between Kevin Gosztola and Daniel Ellsberg to celebrate the release of Kevin’s book, Guilty of Journalism: The Political Case Against Julian Assange.

The book is available today, March 7, from Censored Press and Seven Stories Press. It is a crucial and compelling guide to the United States government’s case against the WikiLeaks founder and the implications for press freedom.

To purchase a copy, go to or

“Kevin Gosztola is a rare journalist who understands the abominable threat that the case against Assange poses to press freedom,” says Daniel Ellsberg. “I rely on his indispensable reporting not only to stay informed about Assange, but also to follow developments in the wider war on whistleblowers.”

Kevin Gosztola has spent the last decade reporting on Assange, WikiLeaks, and the wider war on whistleblowers. He is co-founder and managing editor of Shadowproof and the curator of The Dissenter Newsletter. He produces and co-hosts the Unauthorized Disclosure podcast, and he has been featured in such outlets as The Nation, Salon, Common Dreams, and Truthout, as well as on Democracy Now!, The Real News Network, CounterSpin, and Al Jazeera English.

Things to Learn from Daniel Ellsberg

by David Swanson
Writer, Dandelion Salad
Let’s Try Democracy, Mar. 8, 2023
March 9, 2023

I don’t want any new monuments to individuals to replace any ripped down for racism or other offenses. Individuals are deeply flawed — every single one of them, and morality changes with the times. Whistleblowers are by definition less than divinely perfect, as their service is revealing the horrors of some institution they’ve been part of. But when you look around for individuals you’d like people to be learning from, there are some that soar to the top, and one of those is Dan Ellsberg. When I first met him, around 20 years ago, he was, and he has been ever since a fulltime advocate for peace and justice, no longer a new whistleblower and no longer in quite the spotlight he’d been in for releasing the Pentagon Papers. He has continued to be a whistleblower, releasing new information, and recounting endless quantities of facts and incidents. He and others have continued to reveal more about his earlier days, every scrap of which has only made him look wiser. But I met Daniel Ellsberg as a peace activist, one of the best there has ever been.


Dan Ellsberg risked life in prison. And then he went on risking punishments again and again. He took part in countless — I think he may actually have a count, but the word is appropriate — nonviolent protest actions that involved his arrest. He knew that information was not enough, that nonviolent action was needed as well, and that it could succeed. He inspired and encouraged and volunteered to take risks with new whistleblowers and new activists and new journalists.


Ellsberg clearly devoted himself to anything that could be done, but not without constantly asking what would work best, what would have the greatest chance of success.


Not only did Ellsberg never retire. He also, to my knowledge, never showed the slightest negative impact of fame, never arrogance or contempt. When I hardly knew him, he would call me up seeking insights and information on strategizing to influence Congress. This was when I lived in or near Washington, D.C., and did some work with some Congress Members, and I think that was largely the value sought in asking me questions. The point is that I know I was one of a great many people Dan was phoning and asking questions. The guy who knew more about the military industrial complex than anyone else, or at least anyone else willing to talk about it, mostly wanted to learn anything he didn’t know.


A model of careful and diligent researching, reporting, and book authoring, Ellsberg can teach the importance of finding the truth in a complex web of half-truths and lies. Perhaps the impressiveness of his scholarship, combined with the passage of time, has contributed to various comments suggesting that some new whistleblower who has offended the establishment is “No Daniel Ellsberg” — an error that Dan himself has been quick to correct, siding with the truth tellers of the current moment, rather than with the disneyfictation of his own memory.


What makes the information provided on war history, peace activism history, politics, and nuclear weapons in Ellsberg’s writing and speaking so interesting is the questions he asked in order to find it. They are mostly not the questions that were being asked by major media outlets.

Independent Thinking

If you deal with a single topic area long enough, it becomes hard to run into a new opinion. Where you do run into new opinions, most often it’s with someone who thinks for himself. Ellsberg’s views on the gravest dangers we face, the gravest crimes of the past, and what we must do now are not those of anyone else I know, except for the great numbers of people who have listened to him.

Agreeable Disagreement

Most people, probably myself included, are hard to always get along with amicably even when jointly working toward the same end. With Ellsberg, he and I have literally done public debates on things we disagreed on (including elections) completely amicably. Why can’t that be the norm? Why can’t we disagree without harsh feelings? Why can’t we seek to educate and learn from each other without striving to defeat or cancel one another?


Daniel Ellsberg is a moral thinker. He looks for the greatest evil and what can be done to alleviate it. His reluctance to speak, with me, of rejecting WWII, I think, comes out of his understanding of the extent of the Nazis’ plans for mass murder in Eastern Europe. His opposition to U.S. nuclear policy comes from his knowledge of U.S. plans for mass murder in Europe and Asia far beyond the Nazis’. His focus on ICBMs comes, I think, from his having thought through what existing system creates the greatest risk of nuclear apocalypse. This is what we all need, whether or not we all focus on the same extreme evil. We need to prioritize and act.


Only kidding! As everyone knows, you can neither stop Daniel Ellsberg when he has a microphone nor regret a single moment you failed to stop him. Perhaps death alone will silence him, but not as long as we have his books, his videos, and those he’s influenced for the better.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson’s books include The Monroe Doctrine at 200 and What to Replace it With (2023), Leaving World War II Behind (2020), Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie (2010; 2nd Ed. 2016). He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and U.S. Peace Prize Recipient. Support David’s work.

See also:

My Fifty Years With Dan Ellsberg, by Sy Hersh

From the archives:

Chris Hedges and Stefania Maurizi: The Dark Truths WikiLeaks Revealed

Chris Hedges and Gabriel Shipton: Will Julian Assange Ever Be Free?

Chris Hedges and Kevin Gosztola: Julian Assange and the End of Press Freedom + The Belmarsh Tribunal on Julian Assange, Press Freedom

ICBM: Incubating Catastrophe Beyond Measure, by David Swanson

Daniel Ellsberg: Nuclear War and Ukraine

David Swanson and Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Missiles

Daniel Ellsberg: The Doomsday Machine, Parts 1-13

The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

2 thoughts on “Kevin Gosztola and Daniel Ellsberg: Guilty of Journalism + Things to Learn from Daniel Ellsberg, by David Swanson

  1. Pingback: How U.S. Military Spending Works, by David Swanson – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: John Pilger: The Betrayers of Julian Assange + John Shipton, John Pilger, David McBride: Anything to Say? – Dandelion Salad

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