Daniel Ellsberg

American economist and whistleblower known for releasing the Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg (born April 7, 1931) is a former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of US government decision-making about the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.

Daniel Ellsberg in 2006


  • Chelsea Manning is again acting heroically in the name of press freedom, and it’s a travesty that she has been sent back to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury. An investigation into WikiLeaks for publishing is a grave threat to all journalists’ rights, and Chelsea is doing us all a service for fighting it. She has already been tortured, spent years in jail, and has suffered more than enough. She should be released immediately.

  • That was a documentary!
    • An exclamation Ellsberg made to a fellow government official, after they both watched the film Dr. Strangelove. [1]
  • We weren't on the wrong side. We are the wrong side.
  • The American public was lied to [about the Vietnam War] month by month by each of these five administrations [Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon]. It's a tribute to the American public that their leaders perceived that they had to be lied to. It's no tribute to us that it was so easy to fool the public.
    • Hearts and Minds (1974), a documentary of the Vietnam War [1:17:35 onward]
  • The question really arises is it a republic if you can keep it, question have we kept it? And the answer is no! No we have not kept it. Since 2001 we have in effect an elected monarchy. And ah, meaning a country which Nixon's view 'when a president does it, it is legal'. The president says it's not illegal. That is the attitude long after Nixon of John Yoo, who was the advisor to George W. Bush, of David Addington, Bush Cheney's legal advisor. Essentially there are no limits on presidential power except those which he chooses to put on himself. Obama following on, has in effect decriminalized torture which is as illegal and criminal as anything can be under international law and domestic law, a number of domestic laws and international laws, which we have ratified to investigate, and follow-up if there is any credible charge. Obama has chosen not to investigate or indict any higher up for that process of torture.
  • I took that opportunity to tell him something that, er, I had long thought of telling somebody that was about to enter the world of really high secrecy. And I said, 'Henry, you're about to get a lot of clearence higher than top secret that you did not know existed. That's going to have a sequence of effects on you. First, a great exhileration that you're getting all this amazing information that you didn't know even existed. And the next phase is you'll feel like a fool for not having known about any of this. but that won't last long. Fairly soon, you'll come to think that everyone else is foolish. What would this expert be telling me if he knew what I knew? So in the end, you stop listening to them.
    • On talking to Henry Kissinger about the effects of gaining high security clearence after Kissinger's first National Security Council with then president Nixon. 'The Most Dangerous Man in America - Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers' 2009 Documentary.

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