592 Comments

This is the best account of the history of the Ellsberg revelation I have ever read. And I am 80 years old and have read a lot. So thank you.

Expand full comment

The WP had a good article today as well. I lived this, I’m a VN combat vet with Russian iron in my leg and a broken back to boot. I’m a little younger than you, but not much, and I too continue to learn as I age, the best part of which is that I have more time to educate my mind. I’m much better informed now than when I was younger. Today was an eye opener and I’m not uninformed.

Expand full comment

Thanks for your service and sorry you had to go through that hell. I was fortunate enough to not become 18 until 1971...and my doctor thought I qualified for 4F. I had written a report in High School about Viet Nam and realized it was not a place you wanted to go....and I had fully intended to serve. For years I had some guilt about it...about not serving there...but I've gotten over it. None of our men should have been there...or at least not that long, in the way they were used.

Expand full comment

I used to car-pool with two young guys who were constantly talking about the war and how scared they were about being drafted. I recall them talking about moving to Canada or taking a drug that could blow out their ear drums so they would be rejected. My heart goes out to all those who served. The most depressing thing I ever saw was in Berkeley, CA on Telegraph Avenue south of the campus. There was a guy pushing a grocery cart. Inside was a very handsome young man with no arms and no legs as the result of injuries in Viet Nam. It broke my heart. This is a sight that has remained in my mind’s eye for the last 50 years.

Expand full comment
Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023

I am also 80 and I remember this time well. My husband and I were in the Peace Corps at this time. He needed to turn 26 as his draft board had that as their cutoff point. He did and did not have to go to VN. For some the PC did not save them or they were drafted as soon as their time ended or even before. Later one of our PC friends who had to go visited us and told us what he had witnessed including lots of drug use. My brother-in-law joined the military to be able to stay stateside. I also remember how happy I was that Nixon had resigned. At the time what he had done was shocking, but it was nothing compared to what death star has done although it certainly set us on our way to the what we see now.

Expand full comment

I saw a guy like the one you described while in the hospital at Camp Zama in Japan. I think he might have still had one of his appendages but they told me that they were going to remove it when he was strong enough to endure it. I was in a hospital with 700 other wounded soldiers, words can’t do justice to what I saw and heard, he was the stand out case. My doctors told me that I was the only soldier in the hospital that was demanding to be returned to the fighting, in spite of everything I was seeing in that hospital, they would come by my bed and try to talk me out of it. I was surrounded by amputees or guys that were fighting and begging not to join them, when I saw that guy on the gurney, my war ended.

Expand full comment

The origin of "basket case." My mother was a nurse in WWII, and when I was in nursing school decades later myself, she told me about those soldiers she cared for. Heartbreaking.

Expand full comment

When I was in nursing school, I had planned on signing up to serve in the army when I graduated. Fortunately for me, the army was over quota and I didn't have to serve. MaryPat-have you ever seen the Viet Nam Nurses' Memorial in D.C. ?

Expand full comment

How incredibly sad and unnecessary

Expand full comment

I also have seen this; someone without arms and legs being pushed in a stroller like cart so he could get out in the sunshine. And, like you, I have never forgotten it. My brother returned from Vietnam with arms and legs but suffers from Parkinsons (Agent Orange).

Expand full comment

So very sad.

Expand full comment
Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023

Linda Force: And now that image is in my mind's eye!

Expand full comment

And today we are planning on using cluster bombs! Gawdamighty.

Expand full comment

I’m glad you got over the guilt complex Mike, a lot of guys were burdened with it. I never, even at the time, had any problem with people going to Canada or using a 4F qualification to avoid the meat grinder that was happening in VN. I draw a line in the sand with the insipid imbecile that was out president. Everyone knew at the time that if you had enough money, you could find a doctor who, could give you a diagnosis of having bone spurs, that’s all it took. Fred trump with all of his rentals, must have known a lot of doctors willing to help his son. I don’t want to hate him, but just shy of that is loathing, and he is firmly embedded there. If I’m still around when he’s gone, I hope they install a urinal over his tomb, so that all of us with the urge, can piss on it.

Expand full comment

Dick I firmly believe that Trump will be the most despised President in our history. We've had some really flawed Presidents before and also some incredible human beings. He's the first to not concede...and then attempt to stay in power by any means. High crimes in my book.

Expand full comment

AND ! .......He CALLS US ! " SUCKERS ! and LOSERS ! FOR President ? ( and, once WAS !? )........N O T !! ( LORD/GOD ! ....Have MERCY ! ON Your Wretched SOUL !)

Expand full comment

Recommending Stephen Kinzer’s book on the Dulles brothers. It’s real background on the scandal that was the Vietnam War. The New York Review of Books had an article (1967?) that gave the “Dulles clue.”

Expand full comment

An important (and not to my knowledge studied) aspect of the American War in Vietnam is the psychological damage done to those that avoided or evaded the draft.

1968 was my freshman year in high school and all the male seniors (except rich kids of course) went straight into the military.

One can only imagine the shame and guilt those boys carried- especially since all of our fathers came of age during WW II.

How important are the psycho-sciences if they have failed to study this effect on an entire generation of kids?

Please provide your knowledge of any studies proving me wrong.

Expand full comment

Having graduated from high school in 1972, Vietnam was going strong. Most people saw going to Vietnam as a death sentence. I cried myself sick when my son joined the army in 2000. OMG! He could die!!!! He retired after 20 years, but he did multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Again, lies about going to war.

Expand full comment

In 1970 and '71, I served on the USS Virgo (AE-30) in Vietnam. The Virgo was an old ammunition ship used off the coast of Vietnam to replenish aircraft carriers with bombs. To this day I'm unable to reconcile my service. On the one hand, I'm ashamed to have participated in that immoral war. On the other hand, I'm proud that I didn't avoid serving, as Cadet Bone Spurs did, since some other poor sucker would have had to take my place. There were really no good options.

Expand full comment

NO good options. Except what Daniel Ellsburg tried to do for all of us: tell the truth he knew.

Expand full comment

Knowing what we knew then, against the power of the government, there were no good options. And as 18 year olds, we're generally naive and powerless. The WWII generation, the so-called Greatest, threw their kids under the bus. That said, there were a few perceptive souls, wise and brave for their years. There is no simple story line.

Expand full comment

Thank YOU ! , AL ....For YOUR SERVICE ! Blessings !

Expand full comment

Thank you for your service.

Expand full comment

Thank you for your service.

Expand full comment

As a college student listening to the draft birthdays called out on the radio with classmates fearing the worst for our brothers, boyfriends, and friends, the war in Vietnam served as the impetus for my writing about War through the lens of my father's time with the Navy in the Pacific during WWII. Many would call his the "last just war," and on many levels that feels true, yet...

Remember the travesty of John Wayne's closing line, an egregious lie, in THE GREEN BERETS, as he leans on the shoulder of a young Vietnamese child orphaned by our war in Vietnam: "You're what this war is all about."

War. A freaking disaster to be avoided at all cost. To quote Joan Baez, then Bob Dylan, "When will we ever learn?"

LETTERS FROM INSIDE THE WHALE: RESUMING THE CONVERSATION MY FATHER AND I NEVER HAD...ABOUT HIS WAR will be out late '23 or early '24. How many of you have fathers who never talked about it? Their war? We have to talk about it. No more blowin' in the wind.

Expand full comment

Yah got to " LET IT OUT ! , or it Will EAT YOU ! , from the INSIDE OUT !! YESS ! THANKS ! Lasley !

Expand full comment

Very wise words for me to take to heart. Thank you

Expand full comment

If only the news media and politicians would grow a spine and speak up like they did for Ellsberg and Watergate. I’m reading a terrific book LADY JUSTICE by Dahlia Lithwick. Women, the Law and the Battle to Save America. She’s an excellent writer. TFG craziness came so fast and furious that I had forgotten so much. The Muslim ban was only a week into his administration and Sally Yates was the acting Attorney General. Lithwick puts you right there. The airport confusion, the protest crowds that materialized outside and the women who opposed tfg during those nightmare times. Read it, gift it lest we forget!

Expand full comment

Thanks for this reference!

Expand full comment

Like HCR, she was a wonderful discovery for me. Their work keeps me focused and calm.

Expand full comment

It's a wonderful book about some inspiring women. Like other commenters, I've become a hardcore Dahlia Lithwick fan. Amicus, her podcast about SCOTUS (and other things), is indispensable. I started subscribing to Slate because of her -- and quickly learned that it's got some of the best political and cultural commentary and reporting around. Go, Dahlia!

Expand full comment

I like Dahlia's clear-eyed commentaries on MSNBC. Now that I know about her book, I look forward to reading it.

Expand full comment

And her podcast Amicus is quite engaging and informative. She is frequently joined by Mark Joseph Stern. Together they share a lot about the SCOTUS. I love her wry humor.

Expand full comment

Yet another thing I didn't know about. Thanks.

Expand full comment

Thanks for the referral. I just ordered it for my daughter-in-law. Now the question is whether or not I read it before I give it to her😊 I’ve got 6 months before her birthday. I may not wait that long to give it to her, though.

Expand full comment

We have a tradition in our family that reading the book before you gift it is no different than trying on a shirt before you buy it.

Expand full comment

I think I will claim that as a practice. Thanks!

Expand full comment

Love This!!

Expand full comment

To be honest, when I took it out of the library and looked at the cover, I kind of expected the usual RBG biography type of thing. Just reading the introduction, I could not put it down.

Expand full comment

So it has arrived and I look forward to diving in. I’m glad that I still have a supply of “COVID gloves” to avoid leaving traces of my passage thru it before I give it to her 😊

Expand full comment

And it’s still coming fast and furious in red states. Florida faces a daily onslaught of outrageous new laws and propaganda. Now the Hillsborough County Republican Party has passed a resolution declaring Covid-19 and the vaccine biological weapons. They are advocating a ban on all Covid vaccines in the state. This is the madness we are dealing with daily:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/hillsborough/2023/06/17/hillsborough-gop-covid-vaccines-biological-weapon/

Expand full comment

I remember the Former President's administration in sordid detail beginning with poor Sean Spicer who said that Trump's inauguration crowd was the biggest ever PERIOD! If that had been my job I would have quit that very day.

Expand full comment

Look how many people are being jailed as whistle blowers at the same time a former president still walks free for sharing secrets without altruistic motives.

Expand full comment

Seeing Lithwick frequently on MSNBC. Superb journalist!

Expand full comment

I have the book but it is in line to be read! Sometimes I have to take a break from what I should be reading.

Expand full comment

There was nothing in this concise and informative piece that was unknown to me, but Dr. Richardson weaves a complicated period of history into an elegant, flowing narrative in the modern tradition of great historical writers like Doris Kerns Goodwin and David McCullough. Although I lived through the Watergate era and voraciously consumed daily news of it, this essay puts the details together in a historical context that is fresh, compelling, and depressingly relevant to today’s political landscape. Bravo!

Expand full comment

I, too, remember this. And this writing here has informed me of a lot that I didn’t even know. Thanks, Heather, for bringing this out in such a great, chronological, description .

Expand full comment
Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023

Lee, I agree about the quality of this letter and the facts shared with us. The shenanigans surrounding the Vietnam War just keep surfacing, much like those of TFG and his buddies. The big difference is that the Republicans of that day didn’t seem as willing to sacrifice their morals to defend the party and maintain their own power.

Expand full comment

But the Stones, Maniforts, and many of Ronnie’s groupies (including Reagan Democrats) learned the lessons, added the evil of Lee Atwater and Rupert, and produced Newt, Grover, and the ‘think tanks” which have corrupted our lives more than any criminal organization, except maybe chump.

Expand full comment

Reading a book called “Playing God” about Catholic bishops. Just finished chapter on Paul Weyrich, who started Heritage Fdn, Council for National Policy and others, with the help of Jerry Falwell, Sr. They enlisted the theretofore apolitical evangelicals to political activity…and here we are.

Expand full comment

I agree Jeri, the connection between Nixon's "dirty tricksters" and the dysfunction in today's congress is very clear.

Expand full comment
Jun 18, 2023·edited Jun 18, 2023

Jeri,

One little thing after another until here we are, feeling like frogs in boiling water.

Expand full comment

Describes me exactly, especially in Texas right now

Expand full comment

I recall lots of resistance. Ellsberg and the NYT were demeaned as traitors. The Administration stonewalled past the time Dean came clean. Republicans caved when it was clear that the public perception of Nixon and the party was tanking. As the weight of charges and evidence accumulate on Trump, Republican politicians in the backrooms will begin to panic. The Senate is already hedging its bets. Moderate Republicans in the House will follow. Hard-core MAGA devotees will stick to their delusions, of course. It may take the reality of a Democratic tout in 2024 to bring the GOP to its senses.

Expand full comment

I agree, also with gratitude. Also with octogenarian-ness.

Expand full comment

Septogenarian here Deanna, I had the opportunity to meet Ellsberg in the early 1980's.

at a radio station in the Bay Area. Daniel's detailed historical knowledge was not limited to Vietnam or Southeast Asia. Ellsberg was an adept military & intelligence analyst. Those skills were in full use during his acquisition & distribution of the Pentagon Papers & legal counter measures.

Expand full comment

When I was a very young university student at California State University, Fullerton, Daniel Ellsberg came to the campus to speak. I was 18 and only just beginning to understand his role in the Vietnam War, Watergate and history.

Expand full comment

Lee, I thought the same and I am 68.

My random sequence draft number was in the top 10. I would have served despite high school teachers offering to help me avoid doing so. I believed it was my duty and responsibility. I was also a dutiful Catholic who had already begun to understand the hypocrisy between church teachings and practice but not yet willing to oppose military service.

The draft was ended and I wasn’t drafted. I credit my upbringing In Newton, Massachusetts, raised by a single mother, and the classwork and culture (progressive co-ed dorms) at the University of Amherst to shaping my politics and my commitment to progressive politics and individual liberty.

Expand full comment

One 88 year old Army Veteran who worked for the Army and studied the Ellsberg case at the time concurs heartily. Heather’s delineation is as crystal clear as any I have read.

I knew the facts of the case as it unfolded and followed the hearings and prosecutions but until today the case was a vague memory of various events. But now I see its criminality and how the irresponsible reactions to events by the highest Government Officials emphasize the delicacy of maintaining our Republic is far from guaranteed by the structures of Law.

I fear the wealth and cultish supporters of the disgraced former President has so diluted his own similar culpable actions to retain the Presidency the deserved justice is delayed.

But in the end I am certain the details leading to and since January 6, 2020 will be as clear.

Expand full comment

For more insight, I highly recommend Errol Morris’ documentary “Fog of War.” Much of it was based on 200 hours of interviews with Robert McNamara, who was 87 at the time. Not without shortcomings, the 2003 film gives a window into the person responsible for so much pointless death and destruction.

Expand full comment

I lived the Vietnam eraa and got to every national antiwar March. I came out a screening of The Fog of War enraged again and I already knew a lot. It is chilling. I want to get the recent book Because our Fathers Lied by McNamara's son. The habit of dissembling by our military establishment continued through Afghanistan. Thank god even Trump and then Biden said no más. Nixon helped create the cynicism exploited by Trump when he created his Maga gang. We are still struggling through it.

Expand full comment

Agree. HCR knows how to find the right nuggests to make a summary. Wonderful.

Expand full comment

Me too - almost 80, and continuing to learn, to be much more informed than I was then - and so many thanks to Heather for providing information, back stories like this one.🙏🏽

Expand full comment

You are absolutely correct Lee! I'm 71 and didn't understand it this clearly until now.

Expand full comment

“This is the best account of the Ellsberg revelation I have ever read” 🤩🤩🤩

Thank you Lee Chemel! Reading your expert opinion (and others) helps me to feel my feet firmly planted on the ground!

Expand full comment

Dear Lee,

I had just transferred to the Pan Am Washington DC base in 1973.

I knew nothing of DC but soon learned much as I was able to sit in the WaterGate hearings as I dated Senator Irving’s council. I sat rather near Moe Deane. I received the entire hearing in typed form.

As I matured into a political “sponge” wanting to learn more and more about my government , I began to really study the other cultures I was privileged to visit.

As I age the stories of the past keep popping up like ghosts. Here we are...

I do thank Mr.Ellsberg for simply being a thinking, moral human being. And may he rest in peace.

The story reminds me of how we Americans have treated Mr Snowden. He simply felt like the truth was worth getting out to the public. Now he sits in Russia as a citizen of that country. We have certainly cut off our nose to spite our face!! How backward do we like to sink?

Expand full comment

Totally agree. If you are up for it, Garrett Graff’s recent book “Watergate: A New History” tells this story in great detail. So many parallels to today.

Expand full comment

I am exactly you, and I fully agree with your comment.

Expand full comment

I sat glued to the TV during the Senate hearings. It was a time when enough Republicans were shocked enough by the crimes committed against the American people to put country above party and to urge Nixon to resign. We all owe Daniel Ellsberg, and all of the whistleblowers who have followed, an enormous debt of gratitude. As one of our major newspapers reminds us, democracy does indeed die in darkness,. Our democracy has the greatest chances of survival when the fourth estate does its job. (And the loss of local newspapers is a topic for another day.)

Expand full comment

I agree, Betsy. I, too was glued to the daily TV findings And I agree we owe a debt of gratitude to Daniel Ellsberg and all whistle blowers. Unlike the current young man who stole State secrets solely to aggrandize himself before a bunch of nerdy friends. [Of courase I'm not referring to Trump]

Expand full comment

Actually, it appears that the young traitor was dealing at much higher levels with spies from another nation. The "nerd" thing was his cover.

Expand full comment

That makes him worse, but he does not fall into the whistle blower category

Expand full comment

Heavens! He's anything BUT a whistle blower!!

Expand full comment

Yep, and arrogant too, guess he's been studying DeSantis and Trump

Expand full comment

I was sure that Trump's lying and corruption would be picked up by young adults; one could do stuff like that, and it's kinda OK.

The real Trump University, taught by the man himself. Just tune in.

Expand full comment

Do you have a link/reference for that?

Expand full comment

Hugh, Leslie has posted one article regarding Teixeira which I'd read. I wish I could remember where I read something even more specific and damning. I read several papers (NYT, WaPo, Guardian), subscribe to 8 substacks, read a few others, and am in two pro-democracy groups on FB -- so unless I save something, I can't pinpoint the origin. If I find it, I will definitely let you know. I just remember a very sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I read it.

Expand full comment

Marycat, Thanks so much for finding this! There is still abiguity in the reporting, however, as I'm sure you noticed. "There is no clear public evidence that Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, held such connections or was a part of an organized foreign operation, as some U.S. and Ukrainian officials have suggested." I emphasize "no CLEAR evidence" AND "no PUBLIC evidence". I guess I read an article when the U.S. and Ukrainian officials were "suggesting" that Tex was part of an organized federal operation. God willing, that's the case!!

Expand full comment

Where did you hear that? I have not seen that reported anywhere….

Expand full comment

See above

Expand full comment

I cannot find anything in the Times article that indicates Teixeira was working with a spy or that the nerd explanation is a cover. Certainly his unlawful disclosures could cause grave damage to the U.S. and it’s Allie’s, but I still cannot find any reference to the allegation that he was “dealing at much higher levels with spies from another nation.” If I missed something in the article cited, please let me know.

Expand full comment
Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023

I don't think such a disclosure would accurate. It seems very odd that something like that would be made public except within the text of an indictment.

Expand full comment

Hi Alice, There is ambiguity in the reporting, however, as I'm sure you noticed. "There is no clear public evidence that Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, held such connections or was a part of an organized foreign operation, as some U.S. and Ukrainian officials have suggested." I emphasize "no CLEAR evidence" AND "no PUBLIC evidence". I guess I read an article when the U.S. and Ukrainian officials were "suggesting" that Tex was part of an organized federal operation. God willing, that's the case!!

Expand full comment

Loss of local newspapers, especially competing in the same market, and the semi-retreat (so it seems to me) of high quality investigative journalism. It is still to be found but seemingly less prominently. Media have changed of course, as has the mores of society.

Expand full comment

David Pepper says statehouses used to be covered by as many as 30 journalists, now down to about three. State legislative activity needs much oversight.

Expand full comment

Yes, in a time when news outlets have laid off journalists and some newspapers have shut down. Most news is reported by only a handful of agencies and even fewer wire services.

Expand full comment

It also helped a lot to have a judge like John Sirica.

Expand full comment

That's when the GOP had some integrity.

Expand full comment

They certainly have NONE now!!! I remember those days. We've had 50 years of Republican lies and selfishness. Will we ever learn?

Expand full comment

It was before my time, but isn't it true that Republicans took a good long time to be convinced that Nixon was guilty, or that it was a sufficient crime to merit impeachment? That seems to be the case from what I've read of the trials.

Expand full comment

I was a young secretary at the time. The gap! Oops, I leaned over and accidentally pushed "erase". No mistaking loyalty under fire. Expletive deleted.

Expand full comment

Yes, but the difference was that they actually cared about Nixon's betrayal. Unlike most of the ones in office now.

Expand full comment

Diana, yes, that difference is definitely my impression. Just that it took a while for them to catch up. Thanks!

Expand full comment

We’ve heard astonishing details from equally well informed whistleblowers (e.g., Alex Vindman, Cassidy Hutchinson) over the course of TFG’s two impeachment trials and Jan 6 hearings which should have long ago torpedoed him. Most Republicans are too cravenly self-serving to do the right thing, and those who do (Liz Cheney) pay a high political price.

Expand full comment

There were so many R senators who put nation over politics on the "Uncle Sam" Ervin Watergate Committee. One kept asking the key question (his picture is clear in my mind, but his name escapes me) "What did the President know, and when did he know it?" Not only integrity, but the courage to ask the right questions and demand the right answers. Not this current bunch doing the McCarthy Tango.

Expand full comment

'Now I'm just a backwoods country lawyer from North Carolina, but it seems to me...' paraphrasing Senator Sam delivering one of his zingers.

Expand full comment

Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee. Yes, they don't make Republicans like they used to.

Expand full comment

SCOTUS PDATE on Whistleblower's Lawsuits yesterday [ case name to come ]. SCOTUS voted 8-1 to procedurally trim Whistleblower lawsuits aka "Qui tam" actions meaning in latin In the name of the King. You guessed it -- the only dissenter was Justice Thomas who raised his goal of elimnating Whistleblower complaints entirely.

In fact, I will not call Thomas' missive a dissent. I will call it an ADVERTISEMENT to far right litigants to brng the right majority the "right" case for overturning established rights.

Expand full comment

Indeed, they did

Expand full comment

Enough Republicans believed in the Republic and Democrats believed in democracy to make a difference. WTF.

Expand full comment

Edward Snowden not so much.

Expand full comment

Snowden revealed governmental behavior that was disturbing to many.

Expand full comment

Snowden is a national hero.

Expand full comment

Absolutely.

Expand full comment

So what about Julian Assange?? - he's been effectively imprisoned for the

last 11 years - Equadorean Embassy and Belmarsh Prison (UK) - and the USA is still baying for his blood. He only was kicked out of the Equadorean embassy - as there was a change in Gov't in Equador - and the US promised the new Government millions if they would eject him (into the loving arms of the Tory Brits). https://www.change.org/p/free-julian-assange-before-it-s-too-late-stop-usa-extradition/u/31666816

Expand full comment

Snowden fled.

Expand full comment
Jun 19, 2023·edited Jun 19, 2023

No other choice. Espionage Act (which is in place only to quiet dissidents, so is VERY un-American) does NOT allow you to explain WHY you did what you did. Daniel Ellsberg learned that on the stand in LA. Once you learn about what Snowden did and why, you may thank him. He should be pardoned and welcomed back. And Daniel Ellsberg is an absolute hero as well. Ellsberg actually advised Snowden based on his experience. He was very pleased and proud of Snowden.

Expand full comment

Snowden and Assange should not be in the same sentence with Ellsberg, except here

Expand full comment

Snowden, like Ellsberg, sent his revelations to the press. As a result routine illegal government spying on masses of Americans was exposed and Congress passed a law to end it. When Snowden sought to to escape certain prosecution he was trapped in transit while in Russia when the USA pulled his passport. None of the officials who lied to us have been punished. The beat goes on. (Assange was totally different. He just dumped stuff to the world. Not a whistle blower.)

Expand full comment

It's not clear if the terribly invasive government spying that Snowden exposed has all stopped. I believe (and someone please correct me if this is wrong) that some activities ended. Unfortunately, today the government still gathers extraordinary amounts of information about every citizen. Though FISA courts are supposed to protect abuse of this data, I'm not sure they do. Very unsettling, but many people still view Snowden negatively instead of directing their anger against our government.

Expand full comment

They absolutely still do.

Expand full comment

Ellsberg held himself accountable; he realized that he faced jail time and still released the papers. And he was charged but the break in at his dr's office forced the justice system and the public to look at what Nixon was trying to do to him. Snowden fled. Not the same.

Expand full comment

Corruption of Nixon et al was so outrageous that Ellsberg's entire case was thrown out. Today, that corruption wouldn't stop it, even though it should. Snowden, like Ellsberg, couldn't live with himself if he didn't reveal to us what he knew and how we were being lied to. Ellsberg was very proud of him, supporting and advising him.

Expand full comment

I remember that first day of hearings and listening to James McCord testify. I had called in “sick” to my job, intrigued by the news, and this became my political “awakening” at age 27.

Expand full comment

Thank you for this excellent summary of part of my father’s legacy (after the Pentagon Papers he spent the next 50 years up until his last days, trying to avoid nuclear war.) I told him about your excellent column a few years ago and he quoted you all the time. He would have been very pleased by this tribute. Mary Ellsberg.

Expand full comment

Ms. Ellsberg,

Thank you for your gracious input. Your father was an American hero, plain and simple. The courage he demonstrated was commensurate with, if not greater than the risk he took. He was not only the Whistle-blower of all Whistle-blowers, but the first canary in the vast coal mine of our colossal war making powers. Few people have the distinction of not only shifting the paradigm, but redefining it.

Daniel Ellsberg was one of them.

May his memory live brightly within you, and may he rest in a most deserved peace.

Expand full comment

I am so sorry for your loss of your father. I admired him for his actions. I saw too many of my former high school students graduate from high school in the spring and be dead by December. May your heart be comforted a little by a grateful citizen that your father, Daniel Ellsberg, lived and had the strength of his convictions to do the right thing.🌹🌺

Expand full comment

It’s not often that I get an opportunity to thank an actual Ellsberg. Thank you.

Expand full comment

Proud to say that your father was in a way one of my hero’s. As mentioned, I became glued to the hearings. And 3 years ago I published my own publication on Trump. My sympathies to you in his passing.

Expand full comment

I am sorry for your loss Ms Ellsberg. Thank you for sharing

Expand full comment

Thank you, Mary Ellsberg. Your father was a hero to many of us. At 89 I remember how horrible were the times with Nixon in power.

Expand full comment

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing here, and may his memory be a blessing. ❤️

Expand full comment

Thank you so much for letting us know this. ❤️

Expand full comment

Your comments brought a smile to my face. I lived through those years and, while I was horrified, it led to my future work as a fact finder in a legislative Ombudsman office. Oversight by people whose commitment is the law and the facts is

Expand full comment

The last word in my comment is missing. My last word was “precious.”

Expand full comment

Mary, As I s obvious, many many admired your Father and still feel grateful to him for being a brave and patriotic soul.

Have you any thoughts about how to get Snowden home to his birthright? He has vast computer knowledge and could help our country men and women learn how to use it legally and morally for the good of us all. He is a hero and we threw him out of his own country .

Expand full comment

Ms. Ellsberg,

Thank you for your lovely words to all of us here. Joining the chorus of condolences to you and your family, and deep gratitude for your amazing father and his role in changing our country and the world. The more I learn about him, the more my appreciation grows for who he was and what he did for all of us. His dedication gives me hope. Sending you peace, love and comfort for your loss. We have all lost an exceptional American hero.

Expand full comment

This brings back so much. My dad, Paul Weeks, was a reporter in Washington for the LA Times ( or maybe the LA Mirror) who decided not to be Bobby Kennedy’s press secretary (so he was not there when Bobby was shot) At one point he was with the war on poverty, but when the Ellsberg papers broke he became public relations for RAND. If I understand the old stories, he worked with Ellsberg but I could be wrong. Dad has been gone for a long time, but you can still find his blog ( Typos Galore) snd his stores on mobsters and others There is a great story about when he defended a black photographer ( or reporter) who was kicked out of a Klan rally, and he was proud that when he reported on Nixon with a quote Nixon didn’t like, other LA reporters who had also heard the quote came to dad’s rescue when Nixon tried to get dad canned from the newspaper. I will always admire Daniel Ellsberg’s courage.

Expand full comment

Barb Huntington, have you read this tribute to your dad? One of his former colleagues considered him an unsung hero.

http://www.laobserved.com/boyarsky/2007/07/paul_weeks_unsung_hero.php

Expand full comment

Wow, Catherine, what a story! Barb Huntington, your dad was a real hero.

Expand full comment

Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Mr. Weeks was a hero indeed and interesting to read how 'things were' and heartbreaking to understand how little they have changed.

Expand full comment

Oh I remember coming back from vacation in Mazatlan. Some guys game down and went to every hotel to find us so he could get back because of his understanding of what was happening in the watts rebellion

Expand full comment

Wonderful story!

Expand full comment

There's an additional part of the story that never was told. Ellsberg and Russo had to take the Pentagon Papers from the library at RAND where they were kept. The RAND librarian knew what they were doing, and as he later told me, "turned a blind eye" to them and made sure no one went looking for the material while it was being copied.

The librarian at RAND was Richard H. "Dick" Best, who as a Lieutenant in 1942 in command of Bombing Squadron 6 aboard USS Enterprise at the Battle of Midway had sunk the Japanese carrier "Akagi" with his two wingmen in the single most accurate dive bombing attack of the Pacific War, when the Enterprise attack was screwed up at the "decisive moment." Sinking the Akagi turned the tide of the battle when she went down along with Kaga and Soryu, and the United States, which had been losing to that point, went on to win the decisive battle of the Pacific War.

Dick was one of the most genuine "patriot warriors" I ever knew (and I've known a lot of them in my history research) and said he always believed he served his country better at RAND when he facilitated the "escape" of the Pentagon Papers than he did in those minutes over the Japanese fleet 17 years earlier. As he put it, "The American people deserved to know what had been done in their name."

I met Ellsberg about ten years ago. When I told him we had a friend in common, he asked who and when I said "Dick Best," we had quite a conversation. He confirmed that without that silent support, he and Russo would never have been successful in getting the job done.

Expand full comment

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.' Great story about Best and Ellsberg who did far more than 'their fair share' to stop evil!

Expand full comment

Wow! A real unsung hero indeed. Thank you for telling us now about Dick Best.

Expand full comment

Interesting Russo's name was lost to history. Thank you.

Expand full comment

He wasn't as charismatic as Ellsberg and didn't have that resume.

Expand full comment

The last sentence of Russo's obituary in the NYT (2008) is intriguing: "He always credited the Black Panthers with being his strongest supporters."

https://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/09/us/politics/09russo.html

Expand full comment

Anthony Russo, who had become radicalized over the war, but did not have a military background like Ellsberg did, was the one who told Ellsberg what they had to do was get the Pentagon Papers out in the public.

Expand full comment

I put my budgeted journalism dollars in other places so I cannot access your article but I was able to read this one in the LATimes. Ellsberg giving him some kudos

https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2008-aug-08-me-russo8-story.html

Expand full comment

Christy, thanks for the link…expanded my knowledge & got to learn about an amazing man!

Expand full comment

It came up without a paywall for me. I am not a subscriber either.

Expand full comment

🤷🏻‍♀️apparently I’ve tried to read too many NYT articles without paying 🤷🏻‍♀️

Expand full comment

I don't always have time to read through LFAA comments, but so glad I did so today. Wow! So many good, important stories.

Ellsberg, Dick Best, Russo, etc.

Expand full comment

It is simply wonderful to have these reports. Thank you for the story. As I was a child during WWII, reading Life Magazine, living the “war effort,” a story like yours adds to my life’s stories.

Expand full comment

I had two sailor uncles in the Pacific, one of whom had been there in submarines since 1934 and became an expert in radar, not allowed to retire after WWII because his knowledge was considered “essential.”

Expand full comment

I remember that name. Dad must have worked with Mr. Best at some point

Expand full comment

Like many Americans of his generation, Best had been exposed to tuberculosis growing up. It was activated when he experienced difficulty using the oxygen rebreather system on his airplane during the Battle of Midway. He was medically discharged from the Navy (under protest) and experienced a lot of ups and downs in finally being successfully treated for the tuberculosis and was finally able to hold down a full-time job by the late/mid 50s, when he got work at RAND.

Expand full comment

I was personally never so happy as I was when the Pentagon Papers were published. I had been a member of the staff of Commander Patrol Forces 7th Fleet, which was in charge of the destroyers Maddox and Turner Joy at The (alleged) Tonkin Gulf (non) Incident, which never happened as was told in 1964. I knew the petty officer in charge of the fire control tower on Maddox, who had told me there were no boats in the water. Over the years after I came home in 1965, I had told people about the real truth, and was always asked "where's the proof?" to which I had to say "somewhere in the Pentagon." To which they would reply "Fat chance anyone will find that." And then there was the story, in the Pentagon Papers. The truth was out!

Actually not all the truth; it wasn't until 2006 that a researcher was able to determine that the "lights in the water" that night that were claimed to be North Vietnamese torpedo boats were actually the reflection of the moon and the lightning from the storms in all quadrants, on the enormous school of flying fish that annually transits the Gulf of Tonkin at that time. LBJ was the only one who ever got it right - when he was first informed of the event, he exclaimed "those poor dumb sailors were probably shooting at fish." That's right folks, we went to war because they used the mistaken identification of flying fish as the reason to start things.

Expand full comment

The things they leave out of the history books…

Expand full comment

Love your history.

Expand full comment

1964, we were in the kitchen listening to the report of the "attack" on American ships in the gulf. My mother started shaking and said "This is gonna be bad."

Expand full comment

Thank you for adding this comment. I never knew any of these details.

Expand full comment

I"m not a Navy guy TC. So that's what meant by "Fish in the Water".

Expand full comment

As it turns out, you were more right than you thought. The whole story is in Chapter One of my book, The Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club: Naval Aviation in the Vietnam War.

Expand full comment

Literally, flying fish reflecting light from lightning and the full moon.

Expand full comment

I got it ... the Central Intelligence Agency declassified a study years ago that revealed other technical & human error among the crews.

Six (6) declassified NSA memos still available at nsa.gov

Expand full comment

I am also suspicious of interpretations of genuine isolated acts of violence as justification for launching a war. There was no question at Pearl Harbor about whether a foreign nation had launched an attack. The Maine, not so much.

Expand full comment

The Maine sank when one of its boilers exploded (internally). The Spanish had nothing to do with it, would never have done it, since they were well aware the US wanted an "incident" so they could start the war.

Expand full comment

Yes I worded that poorly. I am aware that substantial evidence points to an accidental explosion, although my impression is that some controversy remains. My impression from reading about it was that nobody really had any proof of what had happened back in the day, and that ultra-wealthy media magnates were instrumental in spinning the news and whipping up support for war.

Expand full comment

William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer. The two major newspaper owners in New York. Hearst sent a correspondent to Cuba to cover all the fighting going on; he cabled Hearst that nothing was happening, the Cubans were not rebelling against Spain. Hearst cabled back "send me the stories and I'll get the war."

Expand full comment

And there's more to the story of the Pearl Harbor attack than we have been told. I wonder if the whole story will ever come out?

Expand full comment

Oh my, and so many lives were lost!

Expand full comment

58,000+ Americans and god only knows how many million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.

Expand full comment

Listened today to repeat of interview with Daniel Ellsberg on NPR done in 2009. Found it fascinating to hear him discusses his time in Vietnam and his impressions. The times of utter depression and not really caring what happened to himself. His advice to others to not wait as long as he did to speak up.

Expand full comment

Even as a kid, I understood why we fought the Nazis, but not why we bombed Vietnam. Mostly I heard the "domino theory", that if Vietnam fell to communism, the whole region (I even heard that this included Australia) would be conquered if we did not win the war.

And we didn't. And it didn't.

Expand full comment

And now, after Ellsberg had revealed the lies, why do we continue to bombard nations who have not attacked us? I suspect it's less about ideology and more about the money to be made by the Oligarchs who make the weapons.

And so, let's reflect a bit. Who has done a parallel con on the nation for financial gain? Gun manufacturers? Drug producers? Health Insurance companies? Energy companies? And who pays for these cons? Who suffers as a result?

Welcome to the United States of Unregulated Capitalism. Land of the conned. We need a revolution.

Expand full comment

Hopefully a bloodless Revolution.

Expand full comment

We had one, a series of them after the "Gilded Age"; public movements and regulation. No reasonable person wants to be micromanaged, but negotiating boundaries is part and parcel of being a society. The Declaration of Independence is a declaration of boundaries, as is the Constitution. In our own society we get to define the rules of commerce, as well as other social activities so long as we honor certain universal, unalienable, human rights; of which maximizing profits on the backs of those less advantaged is not one. But there has been 40 years of focused on convincing us otherwise. It seems to me that Lincoln's "As I would not be a master, I would not be a slave..." can be applied to any sort of bullying, any intentional, even unintentional, abuses of power.

On some other blogs I have encountered the meme that I need up and realize that life isn't fair, and it was a theme for Milton Friedman, who made a thesis of "The only corporate social responsibility a company has is to maximize its profits"; and it's true that fortune is uneven, often "cruel". But as sentient beings able to affect our own destiny, responsibility is there in the mix, and even in the throes of a deadly pandemic, we are able to at least partially steer our society's fate to minimize suffering. Even the pursuit of happiness.

Expand full comment

Beautifully written, J L. Thank you.

Expand full comment

Certainly! But perhaps some of our incarcerated folks could be replaced by thieving oligarchs and insurrectionists. :)

Expand full comment

Land of the CONNED ! .... By the MAMMONITES !!

Expand full comment

Yet we were accused and our professors were accused of being communist because we opposed this horrible unjust war. And as we see even now, Chinch never wanted any kind of war on its borders. Vietnam was always independent of China, but Robert MacNamara and others were so stiff necked they refused to look at history. Several of my own professors had known Bob McNamara in college and said this is not the Bob McNamara we know. IN the end McNamara used an excuse of not understanding enough about the region and Vietnam etc, all he needed to do was call some old friends who did know. Tragic.

Expand full comment
Jun 17, 2023·edited Jun 17, 2023

As a junior high student in north Boulder in 1978, I was at the breakfast table eating my Cheerios listening to our houseguest named Dan -- a friend of the family and fellow activist with my parents and sister engaging in nonviolent direct action at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant 16 miles upwind of Denver -- talk about first strike nuclear strategy and how he once had a security clearance higher than the president's on nuclear matters.

I soon learned who this visitor was -- he was THE Daniel Ellsberg. The following years brought many chapters or our friendship and activism, with quite a few of the 75 nonviolent direct action arrests in our family of four having been done with Dan. He inspired, informed and empowered us and many, many others!

Fast forward to 2008, and our son Brian had done a school project that was a poster about a famous American: Daniel Ellsberg. (He first thought of Lincoln, and I suggested Dan.) Brian and Dan sat down to review and refine the poster. One of places to fill in on the poster asked, "What did you learn from this person?" Our 9 YO son had written: "Don't trust the government."

Ahead of our meeting up with Dan in 2018, he emailed me:

"I presume that the last ten years have confirmed what Brian knew at 9--in spades (i.e., trumps).

"It will be interesting to see how this handsome lad looks at 19!

"Love, Dan"

Expand full comment

You are lucky to have known the great Daniel Ellsberg. As a 20 year-old in 1968, dodging the draft to avoid getting ground up in the war machine, I (and all the rest of us) knew what Johnson and Nixon were doing (we had WBAI in NYC). And we celebrated the publication of the Pentagon Papers and were horrified when we learned how Nixon lied to assure re-election in 1972. But at the time, we didn't have a clear idea of the brilliance, courage, and complexity of one Daniel Ellsberg. His great memoir, Secrets, came out in 2002. I first read it six years ago, and I am re-reading it now. I hope both you and Brian have autographed copies. It is a document of profound importance.

Expand full comment

I met Ellsberg in the Lounge-Green Room at KPFA in Berkeley, CA in the early 1980 's. Daniel was intelligent, courageous & he asked penetrating detailed questions far beyond Vietnam.

Expand full comment

Eric, NICE!...paying it forward!

Expand full comment

"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man (sic) living with power to endanger the public liberty." - John Adams

Expand full comment

Once again, Heather, you show us why history is so important in understanding the present.

Expand full comment

Everything we know is a memory.

Expand full comment

Today's posts here are fascinating as history made important to understanding the present, as you point out Steve. Others, like Mary E and TC and Barb, add to that telling. Lucky us. My thought reading today's LFAA is Why are we shocked by Trump et al? Just business a usual going all the way back to Nixon. Different suits, same mugs. Opportunity to hold power for some won't be wasted on doing good for the majority until the brave and honorable step forward to reveal the subtext behind the public story. Misters Elsberg, Russo, Best ... thanks for your honor.

Expand full comment

When we moved from Massachusetts to California after the election, we had a bumper sticker: "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts." [Massachusetts was the only state casting all its electoral votes for McGovern, not Nixon.] But people thought we were apologizing for our driving :-(

Expand full comment

Funny!

Expand full comment

I made my own bumper sticker and the only political message I ever put n my car. It read, “I didn’t vote for him, did you?”

Expand full comment

I needed that bumper sticker in 1980, 1984, 2000, and 2004 as well.

Expand full comment

I had that same bumper sticker.

Expand full comment

I had that bumper sticker, too, and was quite proud of it.

Expand full comment

This letter brings back many memories of that time. I was in college for much of the VietNam War. After graduation my fiance volunteered for the Air Force & went off to Officers Training School. He became a navigator on a KC-135 Strato-Tanker which refueled the fighters & bombers for the missions over VietNam. My family who were staunch republicans were pro-war & here I was a wife of a navigator serving in the theater of operation, we even lived on base so I was thoroughly entrenched in the war effort & while I supported our squadron, I mean my husband & our friends were serving their country I had some pretty tough discussions with my civilian family members about the war & how it was easy for them to talk tough about supporting the war but I had friends & acquaintences that were dying over there.

When it comes to Watergate I was still living on base & to be honest I don't recall much talk about the scandal until it came time for Nixon to resign. I was impressed that there were more than enough republican party members willing to do the right thing & help & insist that Nixon be held accountable for what was transpiring at the time. Which leads me to a question I have for republicans & their supporters.

I've continuously make the comment when people say that republicans should be in charge that since Eisenhower what have the resulting republican administrations brought us. There's Nixon with Watergate & his totally corrupt VP Spiro Agnew. Ford who pardoned Nixon for the so-called good of the country. I was pretty incensed at the time that they pardoned him for his aggregeious offenses but the administration refused to pardon the individuals that fled to Canada to avoid the draft. Then comes Reagan with Iran-Contra. And does anyone really believe that Colonel Ollie North made those descisions? Not that Reagan necessarily made them, he was easily influenced by his wife & her astrology & his handlers. I mean at the end his dementia was apparent & they could barely hide it from the nation. Besides Iran-Contra, Reagan gave us that famous economic plan of trickle down economics which has never worked for Joe & Jane Public but certainly increased the size of the cauffers of the wealthy. He gutted the unions, he closed the mental hospitals & cavalierly the republicans followed suit by claiming that people with extreme mental disabilities should be free to determine that they can or can not take their meds & made it nearly impossible to have someone committed to prevent them from harming themselves or others.

Next on the list of republican presidents is George HW Bush. He was more or less an honorable man, who valiantly served his country during the War but not so honorably who pardoned all the Iran-Contra participants. Swept that under the carpet pretty thoroughly. I think he handled Desert Storm pretty well or I should say his generals did a good job executing that war & he was smart enough to leave Saddam Hussein in power. Even though he as a terrible dictator we saw what happened when he was toppled without any real plan to help form a viable government after his ouster. Nature abhors a vacuum & so does a dictatorship without their dictator. (Just to give another example, when TIto in Yugoslavia was no longer in power it brought the years of warring factions that lasted for years. Yes, he was a terrible strongman but once again it created a power vacuum that had tragic results.)

Then there is Goerge Bush the junior, a truly ignorant individual, who bragged that anyone could become presedient, he graduated from Yale with a C average. And let's not forget that his Daddy was a Yale alumni & a sitting Senator at the time "W" was a student there. My guess is that his "C" average may have been a gift so as not embarrass a senator. So what did "W" do for us! The famous Tax Breaks that will fire up the economy, the war in Afghanistan, I'm still making up my mind about the efficacy of that one. Surely it has some value in taking out the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, but oh wait, most of them were from Saudi Arabia. And it was very handy & never explained how even with flights grounded around the country for 3 days magically there was plane that spirited away important Saudi figures immediately after the toweres were destroyed. But the big debacle which we are still sorting out & the world is still suffering from is the Iraq War. You remember that one, you know, the one tht was going to pay for itself. Pretty sure that worked out as well as Mexico paying for the border wall that they were going to build & pay for! And during the Iraq war I find it telling that when the museums housing some of the most important artifacts of ancient civilizations were being looted the US was busy protecting the Ministry of Energy or Oil I don't recall the name exactly. But it was the oil, those damn neo-cons could have cared less about the sectarian violence that was unleasehed.

And drum roll please, then there is trump. The least experienced individual to enter the Oval Office & I think it's been proven the most corrupt & deceitful president in our history. He actually makes Nixon & "W" looked calm & decent in their handling of the county in comparison. But the worst thing about all of this is that there are absolutely NO REPUBLICANS with a backbone or any morals that are willing to stand up to this criminal. Their lust for power & influence overshadows everything else. The country can lose its confidential & top secret materails & they don't give a damn! The domestic terrorists that ransacked the Capitol are 'heroes & patriots' that the feckless republicans are glorifying rather than referring to them as traitors to our constitution.

So, yeah, the republican presidents have gotten worse & worse & a 2nd Maga administration whether it's trump or some other auhoritarian running in democratic clothes it's going to be so much worse.

So give me some Watergate individuals any time, many of them at least did the right thing. Not so the republicans of today.

Expand full comment

Well done. The patriot has an obligation to educate himself or herself. You are a patriot.

Expand full comment