Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers


Daniel Ellsberg is an interesting guy, best known for releasing parts of an internal US-government sponsored study of the Vietnam War dubbed "The Pentagon Papers" once they broke into the public domain.

Born in Chicago (4/7/1931), Ellsberg moved with his family to Detroit and attended Barber Elementary School in Highland Park. He was awarded a scholarship to Cranbrook, a prestigious independent school in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and then earned another scholarship -- to Harvard, where he went on to complete a Ph.D. in Economics. In addition, he was a good basketball player and also served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Once he worked for Rand Corporation and in the Pentagon and deployed to Vietnam, he began to shift from pro-war to anti-. Working on the internal Vietnam reports, he felt the public was being wildly misled by its government (through several presidents), and set out to do something about it.

H.R. Haldeman, President Richard M. Nixon's Chief of Staff, assessed the potential damage from inside the White House in 1971: the initial release of the The Pentagon Papers revealed "a very clear thing: you can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment. And . . . it shows that people do things the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be wrong." True enough: some of Nixon's goon squad subsequently broke into the office and home of Ellsberg's psychiatrist, trying to find dirt on the man and discredit him -- acts that became known as part of the Watergate Scandal that brought down Nixon even as the Vietnam War unraveled.

What looks to be worth seeing is The Pentagon Papers (2003), available on DVD, starring David Spader as Ellsberg, with Alan Arkin; it was first released just days before President G.W. Bush launched the Iraq War. Its cautionary message seems to have been swept away at the time by new events.

Today's Rune: Partnership.

Birthdays: Washington Irving, Marlon Brando, Doris Day, Wayne Newton, Jane Goodall, Alec Baldwin.

Hasta La Vista!

3 comments:

Johnny Yen said...

Ellsberg shows up a lot in Neil Sheehan's "A Bright Shining Lie." He was absolutely a true believer in the cause, and his realization that he was supporting a lie was devastating to him.

JR's Thumbprints said...

Wow! This is fascinating. It sure must pay to be a librarian (for me as a recipient anyway), because you're one big source of information.

luma said...

The way does not import which, importanate is to arrive there!
Eric, I walk sad. A dear friend died very. If he does not scare if to publish sad things. Beijus