The World According to Keitho

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The heroism of Daniel Ellsberg

Posted by keithosaunders on November 17, 2011

Last night I watched a very good documentary on Daniel Ellsberg called The Most Dangerous Man in America.  Ellsberg is the former Pentagon worker who, in 1971, leaked a top-secret document showing how five U.S. presidents lied to the nation in order to facilitate and continue the war in Vietnam.  I was eleven when this happened; old enough to remember it, but not quite old enough to grasp its enormity.

The thing that struck me the most while watching the film was the courage and integrity, not only of Ellsberg, who risked a long jail sentence, but of the newspapers that printed the documents.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and many others printed this story in the face of threats from the imperial Nixon administration.  They did it because they realized that regardless of how bad these documents made the country look, without a free press the U.S. may as well be a banana republic.

Contrast this idealism and integrity with the New York Times (and the rest of the media) of 2002 and 2003, which enabled, even championed a war with Iraq.  You had reporters such as Judith Miller who wrote a series of articles as far back as 2001 detailing Saddam Hussein’s capacity to build and deploy nuclear weapons.  Her main source was Ahmad Chalabi, a former Iraqi politician who had close business ties to many Bush administration officials.  Much of his information, though proven false, seemingly evaded fact checking from Miller or the Times. 

My point is that in 1971 you had people within the Nixon administration willing to risk their career in order to stop an illegal war.  Fast forward to 2002 where you had reporters and Bush administration officials willing to lie in order to facilitate a war, as well as further their careers.

This is why the occupy Wall Street movement is important.  In these bleak times it is important and necessary that there be truth spoken to power.  These banks are rotten as the day is long — we all know that.  Yet what price did they pay for ruining our economy and costing tens of thousands of people their homes and jobs? 

Where is the Daniel Ellsburg of 2011?

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2 Responses to “The heroism of Daniel Ellsberg”

  1. verdun2 said

    Somewhat related, I’ve noticed how absolutely shoddy the media has become. Trivial example: in the new Natalie Wood (should I actually care about her still?) story they say she won 3 Oscars (she won none). It’s like the media has grown lazy and will publish whatever they’re told, whatever they find after a surface look. Very little fact checking going on. Too damned bad, isn’t it?
    v

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