Civil Disobedience Against Vietnam War Led Me to Leak Pentagon Papers

Whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg was a high-level defense analyst in 1971 when he leaked a top-secret report on US involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers and played a key role in ending the Vietnam War. We speak with Ellsberg about the recent 50th anniversary of one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in the United States. On May 17, 1968, Catholic priests and activists broke into a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, and stole 378 draft cards and burned them in the parking lot as a protest against the Vietnam War. They became known as the Catonsville Nine. Ellsberg discusses the role nonviolent direct action can play in social movements. Ellsberg says that the ending of the war in Vietnam “relied on a lot of people doing unusual things.”

AMY GOODMAN: The Ballad of Daniel Ellsberg, by Rulie Garcie, here on Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. We are broadcasting from the University of California Santa Cruz, the basement of the McHenry Library.

We are here at University of California for a gathering of the Right Livelihood laureates in North America. We spend the rest of the hour with one of those laureates, Daniel Ellsberg, perhaps the nation’s most famous whistleblower. In 1971, he was a high level defense analyst when he leaked a top secret report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam to The New York Times and other publications, that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. He played a key role in ending the Vietnam War.

Ellsberg was also a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White House, where he drafted plans for nuclear war. He writes about this in his new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Dan Ellsberg reveals for the first time he also made copies of top-secret documents from his nuclear studies, an entire second set of papers in addition to the Pentagon Papers, for which he is known.

In 2006, he won the Right Livelihood…

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