Ellsberg Afraid US May Kill Wikileak’s Assange Over Iraq Leaks

(9AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

This was previously blogged this afternoon over at FDL much better than I could do it, so I’m going to direct you over to there and Jane Hamsher and Jim White:

Transcript:  Daniel Ellsberg Says He Fears US Might Assassinate Wikileaks Founder


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange released the Iraq War video “Collateral Murder” this past April, which is shot from the viewpoint of the US Apache Helicopter crew who murdered 2 Reuters journalists in 2007.   The person who leaked the video to Wikileaks, Spc Bradley Manning, was arrested May 26th 2010 in Iraq.

My previous diary 6/7/10  “Wikileaks source arrested, hacker snitched”


Diary on the video, 4/5/10,   “Wikileaks: Reuters and kids as collateral damage”


For you younger folk, Daniel Ellsberg was the reason we finally began to get out of the Vietnam War, because he leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.  

Ellsberg wiki:


He attended Harvard University, graduating with a Ph.D. (summa cum laude) in Economics in 1962 in which he described a paradox in decision theory now known as the Ellsberg paradox. He graduated first in a class of almost 1,100 lieutenants at the Marine Corps Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, and served as an officer in the Marine Corps for two years. After his discharge, he became an analyst at the RAND Corporation.

Ellsberg served in the Pentagon from August 1964[1] under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (and, in fact, was on duty on the evening of the Gulf of Tonkin incident, reporting the incident to McNamara). He then served for two years in Vietnam working for General Edward Lansdale as a civilian in the State Department.

After returning from Vietnam, Ellsberg went back to work at the RAND Corporation. In 1967, he contributed to a top-secret study of classified documents regarding the conduct of the Vietnam War that had been commissioned by Defense Secretary McNamara.[2] These documents, completed in 1968, later became known collectively as the Pentagon Papers. Because he held an extremely high-level security clearance, Ellsberg was one of very few individuals who had access to the complete set of documents.[3] They revealed that the government had knowledge all along that the war would not likely be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly.[4] Further, the papers showed that high-ranking officials had a deep cynicism toward the public, as well as disregard for the loss of life and injury suffered by soldiers and civilians.[4]

Pentagon Papers wiki


The Pentagon Papers, officially titled United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, was a top-secret United States Department of Defense history of the United States’ political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. Commissioned by United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in 1967, the study was completed in 1968. The papers were first brought to the attention of the public on the front page of the New York Times in 1971.[1]

Daniel Ellsberg quote, years later:

Well, I had been consulting for the government, and this is now ’64, for about six years at that point, since ’58, in particular since ’59: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and now Johnson. And I had seen a lot of classified material by this time-I mean, tens of thousands of pages-and had been in a position to compare it with what was being said to the public. The public is lied to every day by the President, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can’t handle the thought that the President lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn’t stay in the government at that level, or you’re made aware of it, a week. …..   The fact is Presidents rarely say the whole truth-essentially, never say the whole truth-of what they expect and what they’re doing and what they believe and why they’re doing it and rarely refrain from lying, actually, about these matters.[26]

Daniel Ellsberg, in a Dylan Ratigan interview:

partial transcript of video

RATIGAN: Do you see direct parallels between what’s developing here and what you went through?

ELLSBURG: Yes, there does seem to be an immediate parallel between me and whoever leaked the video on the assault on the 19 or 20 Iraqis. Someone-allegedly, it was Bradley Manning-did feel that that deserved to be out. the “Reuters,” whose newspapermen were killed in the course of that, had been trying to get that through the freedom of information act for two years, as I understand it and had been refused. Let’s say whoever did it, hypothetically, Bradley Manning, showed better judgment in putting it out than the people who kept is secret from the American people and from the Iraqis.

RATIGAN: What is your sense of disclosure of information to the American people today, compared to the period of time that you lived through, where there was similar issues with, with the perception of reality of information being withheld from the public?

ELLSBURG:   Look, there’s no doubt at all, that enormous amounts of energy that should be made public are being withheld and that hundreds, probably thousands of people, I’m speaking now of the run-up to the Iraq war, which has a very great similarity to the lying and the secrecy that got us into Vietnam. I think if many people had recognized that their oath of office, which called them in to support the Constitution, really contradicted their promise to keep certain secrets, when those secrets concealed lies, concealed deception to the American public and getting us into a hopeless war, they should have given priority to the oath of office and they should have put that information out to Congress and the public. They should have done what I wish I had done much earlier than I did I had been in that position, too. I knew years before the Pentagon Papers came out that the Americans were being lied in to an essentially hopeless war. I’m not proud of the fact that it didn’t occur to me that my oath of office, which was to support the Constitution, called on me to put that information out and say, ’64, when the war might have been avoided. But I certainly am glad that I finally came aware of what my real responsibilities were there. And I did put it out years later. At times, at that time, which published it, the “Times,” and the 18 other newspapers, which defied President Nixon’s injunctions and did put it out, were in the position of Julian Assange is in now. I’m very happy that he put it out and I congratulate him for it.

RATIGAN: What was your conclusion as to the direct liability for you? I know that at one point you faced life imprisonment. What do you perceive to be the liability for whoever the leak may be to asange, Mr. Manning or anybody else?

ELLSBURG: I didn’t understand that we don’t have an official secrets act in this country, criminalizing the disclosure of certain information. Except with certain narrow forms of information which is not involved in the pentagon papers or in this. The nuclear weapons data. The identities of covert agents, those things are subject to law. The classification system as a whole is an administrative system that doesn’t have legal force in this country. We’re almost alone among countries in that. I didn’t know that at the time. I assumed I must be breaking some law, that we had some equivalent. And so i didn’t know to start with, that I was the first person ever prosecuted for a leak. The first person to have the Espionage Act provisions used not for espionage, but for revealing information to the American public. There have only been a couple of people who have been indicted since then. Samuel Loring Morrison. And the APEC under George W. Bush. The only cases and conviction was for Morrison. President Obama, who came in promptsing transparency in government, and an end to the excessive secrecy has totally violated that pledge. and it so happens that he’s not only brought two indictments, more than any other president for leaking before any other president had done. but with now, with Bradley Manning, under arrest, if he’s under prosecution, that will be three. A new, a new record for President Obama. That’s really not the kind of change I voted for when I voted for him.  


We have after all for the first time, that I ever perhaps in any Democratic country, we have a president who has announced that he feels he has the right to use special operations operatives against anyone abroad, that he thinks is associated with terrorism. That he suspects of it. And that includes American citizens. One American citizen has even been named. Now Assange is not an American citizen. But I listen to that with a special interest.

Because I was in fact the subject of a White House hit squad in November on May 3rd, 1972. A dozen Cuban assets were brought up from Miami with orders, quote, quoting the prosecutor, to incapacitate Daniel Ellsberg totally. on the steps of the capital, it so happens when i was in a rally during the vietnam war. And I asked the prosecutor, what does that mean, kill me? And he said, the words were “to incapacitate you totally.” But you should understand, these guides, meaning these c.i.a. operatives never use the word “kill.”   i actually think it was to silence me at that particular time. For worries they had that I would leak president Nixon’s nuclear threats, which he was making at that precise time in 1972. Now as I look at Assange’s case, they’re worried that he will reveal current threats.

I would have to say puts his well-being, his physical life, in some danger now.

I say that with anguish. I think it’s astonishing that an American president should have put out that policy and he’s not getting these resistance from it, from congress, the press, the courts or anything. it’s an amazing development that I think Assange would do well to keep his whereabouts unknown.

Wikileak’s Assange claims he has more leaks from diplomatic cables.  He says his lawyers say it’s not safe to come to this country.  

Nobody knows where he is right now.

Jim White at FDL, in comments:

Wow. I sure hope that Ellsberg’s warning makes it too obvious for anything to happen to Assange now.

Jane Hamsher at FDL, in comments:


I think about what would have happened if George Bush had made such an announcement.

Not that he wasn’t doing it anyway, but still.

Emptywheel (Marcy Wheeler) also has a short piece up about some of the leaks here:

Cables on Church Sex Scandal among those Sent to Wikileaks


Sex scandal coverup at the Vatican.  No wonder the damned things are top secret.

Whistleblower (re Guantanamo, Bybee & Yoo memos)  Jesselyn Radack blogged about the Obama’s administration’s aggressively prosecuting leakers at another website today, if you wish to look for it.  Unfortunately it is based on yet another website I don’t like linking to either, but it is at the NY Times 6/11/10  by Scott Shane,   “Administration hardens stance against leaks”

Today, because of that decision, Mr. Drake, 53, a veteran intelligence bureaucrat who collected early computers, faces years in prison on 10 felony charges involving the mishandling of classified information and obstruction of justice.

The indictment of Mr. Drake was the latest evidence that the Obama administration is proving more aggressive than the Bush administration in seeking to punish unauthorized leaks to the press.

Though he is charged under the Espionage Act, Mr. Drake appears to be a classic whistle-blower whose goal was to strengthen the N.S.A.’s ability to catch terrorists, not undermine it. His alleged revelations to Ms. Gorman focused not on the highly secret intelligence the security agency gathers but on what he viewed as its mistaken decisions on costly technology programs called Trailblazer, Turbulence and ThinThread.

Speaking of selective prosecution, and things left over from the previous administration,  today former northern CA 04 Republican Congressperson John Doolittle, who didn’t run for office in 2008 because of his entanglements with convicted, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, announced that he had received a phone call this week from the DOJ that said he was not going to be charged with anything after a 6+ year investigation.  Which resulted in over a dozen convictions of lobbyists, public officials, and other Congressmen.  During the trial of former Abramoff lobbyist associate Kevin Ring, Doolittle and his wife Julie were listed on the pre trial evidence list as “un indicted co conspirators.”

Doolittle in his statement to the press, which is very whitewashed, (a la how can your wife “work” for Abramoff who just got out of jail,  and you don’t mention this might be relevant ? )  once again claimed that the Justice Department under Bush and then Attorney General Mukasey was maliciously “leaking” information to the press, a claim that I spent some time on debunking in the past after the FBI raid, when it was clear that he and ex Texas Congressman Tom Delay were coordinating their information releases, and that Doolittle was doing the leaking to try to cover his bum because only he was privy to his wife’s information.

(there’s a new film out about Abramoff, “Casino Jack and the United States of Money.”  trailer here  http://seminal.firedoglake.com…   )

Doolittle said he had been “praying” for this day.   Oh, what a friend we have found in Holder, eh ?

So much for leaks.  


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  1. – quote from Richard Nixon

    • banger on June 12, 2010 at 15:44

    It’s useful to go back to that particular alliance because it was focused on keeping this country grounded in the Constitution and the basic ideas that most of the Founders shared.

    The left will get nowhere just gnashing its teeth about this, rather we need to make an alliance with the libertarian right that is much more committed to anti-imperialism and Constitutional rule than the left in this country. Sadly, there’s little support for that here or anywhere else except maybe from a few people like Jane Hamsher. In my view, without attacking imperialism and revealing its agenda and the mechanisms of control that imperialist use there is no point in being in opposition. It’s the key to the oligarchy’s grasp on power. Give me the rule of Ron Paul over Obama any day of the week. Obama is even more dangerous than George Bush–Bush, at least, was straightforwardly dishonest–there was no appearance of propriety about him unless you were, at least in spirit, retarded.  

    • Fran on June 12, 2010 at 18:33

    with the German SPIEGEL:

    Left-Wing Icon Daniel Ellsberg: ‘Obama Deceives the Public’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

    Daniel Ellsberg, legendary leaker of the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971, still has a bone to pick with the White House. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, the 79-year-old peace activist accuses President Obama of betraying his election promises — in Iraq, in Afghanistan and on civil liberties.

    SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Ellsberg, you’re a hero and an icon of the left. But we hear you’re not too happy with President Obama anymore.

    Daniel Ellsberg: I voted for him and I will probably vote for him again, as opposed to the Republicans. But I believe his administration in some key aspects is nothing other than the third term of the Bush administration.


    Ellsberg: I think Obama is continuing the worst of the Bush administration in terms of civil liberties, violations of the constitution and the wars in the Middle East.

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