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Daniel Ellsberg, Whistleblower Who Leaked The Pentagon Papers, Endorses Joe Biden

Daniel Ellsberg, a former military intelligence analyst and whistleblower who leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers in 1971, endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a Detroit Metro Times editoral published on Tuesday morning.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Ellsberg, 89, once faced 115 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and espoinage for releasing a top secret government study to the public. He was acquitted in 1973 after the administration of President Richard Nixon broke into his psychiatrist’s office hoping to discover information that would damage Ellsberg’s reputation.

The trove of documents leaked by Ellsberg showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the United States government was solely responsible for the Vietnam War, in which 58,200 American troops as well as more than three million North and South Vietnamese civilians and soldiers were killed for nothing.

The History Channel explains:

Ellsberg had come to believe that the war in Vietnam was unwinnable. He also believed that the information contained in the Pentagon Papers about U.S. decision-making regarding Vietnam should be more widely available to the American public. After secretly photocopying large sections of the report, Ellsberg approached several members of Congress, none of whom took action.

Some of the most damning information in the Pentagon Papers indicate that the administration of John F. Kennedy had actively helped overthrow and assassinate South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963. The report also contradicted official U.S. government pronouncements about the intensive bombing of North Vietnam, which the report stated as having no real impact on the enemy’s will to fight.

The presidential administrations of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson had all misled the public about the degree of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, from Truman’s decision to give military aid to France during its struggle against the communist-led Viet Minh to Johnson’s development of plans to escalate the war in Vietnam as early as 1964, even as he claimed the opposite during that year’s presidential election.

In 1971, while working as a senior research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies, Ellsberg gave portions of the report to Neil Sheehan, a reporter at The New York Times.

In his op-ed on Tuesday, Ellsberg, a native of the battleground state of Michigan, wrote that a victory for President Donald Trump “must not happen again.” Trump narrowly defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in Michigan in 2016.

“I’m urging people to vote for Joe Biden. As a progressive, I’ve certainly disagreed with him on many issues in the past. In fact, he was low on my list of preferences among the Democratic candidates. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, as I did in 2016,” Ellsberg wrote. “I’m in fullest agreement with Sanders and other progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they urge us to support Biden to defeat Donald Trump, not only with our own votes but with our efforts to persuade others to do so.”

He added that while progressives must continue to put pressure on Biden to embrace policies that would mitigate the ballooning climate crisis, “the imperative need is to free the nation from Trump’s unhinged and destructive grip. That is our opportunity as citizens, and we must not fail it… the former vice president has greatly improved his proposals since last year, on this and other matters.”

The priority for voters in the short-term, Ellsberg stressed, is to get rid of Trump:

The current president is doing everything he can to maximize fossil-fuel emissions while eliminating regulations that would reduce them. Donald Trump is doing all he can to encourage drilling, fracking, and burning of fossil fuels, at a time when the scientific evidence is clear that continuing such a path may mean irreversibly calamitous climate change.

While climate disaster is probably baked in right now, even greater global catastrophe can be prevented — but only by programs that will truly work toward sharply reducing carbon emissions and then ending them by 2050. Whether we as a species will achieve that is an open question. But there’s no doubt that the present course is self-destructive, for humans and the planet we depend on for life. The world of human civilization cannot afford another four years of Trump’s presidency.

But climate change is not the only emergency facing Americans all other peoples around the world.

Voters must reject Trump’s “encouragement of emotions and activism of white supremacy from the Oval Office. Trump’s refusal to disavow flagrant racism has underscored his own reliance on it for political support,” Ellsberg said.

Ellsberg also higlighted the president’s aggravated assaults on democracy itself, specifically Trump’s efforts to delegitimize the election, the sabotaging of the United States Postal Service’s ability to process mail-in ballots, and Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses represent an “authoritarian threat to our democratic system of a kind we’ve never seen before.”

Trump is a “domestic enemy of the Constitution, in the sense of that oath,” Ellsberg said. “He has assaulted not only the First Amendment but also virtually every other aspect and institution of our country that preserves us as a republic.”

The American people “must remove Donald Trump from the presidency,” Ellsberg concluded, warning that a Biden victory is the only means of “preventing the destruction of our Constitution as a functional document and averting irreversible damage to human civilization in the next four years.”

Twenty-one days until the election.



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