On 40-year anniversary of Pentagon Papers Daniel Ellsberg calls for immediate termination of court-martial
Washington, DC — Today the National Archives and the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Presidential Libraries will at long last release the entirety of the Pentagon Papers, 40 years to the day after the New York Times’ publication of large portions of the top secret documents. Daniel Ellsberg, then an analyst with the RAND Corporation, had leaked the Pentagon Papers to the Times in order to reveal information about the Vietnam War to the American people.
The full contents of the Pentagon Papers will also be available online at: http://www.archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers
The original release of the Pentagon Papers is perhaps the most famous instance of whistle blowing in the history of the United States. The documents, officially titled, “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” were classified as top secret. Disclosure of the information is credited with adding significant public pressure to end the Vietnam War.
Ellsberg is using the occasion to speak out in support of PFC Bradley Manning—the Army intelligence analyst who stands accused of releasing classified documents to WikiLeaks—as Ellsberg has done since Manning was detained a year ago (May 26, 2010).
“If Bradley Manning did what he’s accused of, then he’s a hero of mine,” Ellsberg said. “I wish I could say that our government has improved its treatment of whistle-blowers in the 40 years since the Pentagon Papers. Instead we’re seeing an unprecedented campaign to crack down on public servants who reveal information that Congress and American citizens have a need to know.”
President Barack Obama recently stated, “Ellsberg’s material was classified on a different basis [than the WikiLeaks disclosures.]”
“That’s true,” Ellsberg says. “Mine were top secret.” The Pentagon Papers were much higher in classification than any of the secret materials alleged to have been released by PFC Bradley Manning. The Pentagon Papers were similarly large in scope to the information Manning is accused of releasing.
Ellsberg faced twelve federal felony counts, for a total possible sentence of 115 years in prison. All charges against him were eventually dismissed by his trial judge on the grounds of what the judge called “the totality” of governmental misconduct toward Ellsberg during his period under indictment, “which offends a sense of justice.”
Ellsberg asserts that Manning, too, has been subjected to governmental misconduct “that offends a sense of justice.” That includes abusive, punitive and illegal conditions of detention for over nine months (until recently), with prolonged isolation amounting to torture.
He also argues that Bradley Manning cannot get a fair military trial as President Obama has already publicly declared him to be guilty. Since any military judge and jury serve under the President’s command, this amounts to a directed verdict by the Commander-in-Chief. Such ‘Unlawful Command Influence’ makes a fair trial by courts-martial impossible, and this process should be immediately terminated for Manning.
“History has vindicated Daniel Ellsberg, and history will vindicate Bradley Manning. Both men are American heroes,” said Jeff Paterson with the Bradley Manning Support Network. “Forty years ago the Pentagon Papers helped to build public pressure to end the Vietnam War. Today WikiLeaks revelations are helping to catalyze democratic movements across the Middle East. History is on the side of those who reveal—not those who conceal—information.”