Dangerous People Needed 'The Most Dangerous Man in America'

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"Glaubt
es mir – das Geheimnis, um die größte Fruchtbarkeit
und den größten Genuß vom Dasein einzuernten, heisst:
gefährlich leben." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

On Thursday
night I had the privilege of viewing a premier of a film together
with its star. The theater was in the U.S. Capitol, and the film
was The Most Dangerous
Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
.
This is a powerfully and engagingly constructed film about one of
the most effective instances of whistle-blowing in our nation’s
history.

Ellsberg risked
life in prison to expose the lies that had taken this nation into
war in Vietnam, lies from Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. And
Nixon believed that Ellsberg had incriminating documents on his
own lies, which led Henry Kissinger to call Ellsberg "the most
dangerous man in America."

Like most whistle-blowers,
Ellsberg was not an outside reformer. He had promoted and advanced
the war from inside the Pentagon. He had tried to be a force for
moderation. But peace activists reached his conscience and persuaded
him that he could and must do more. Those close to him supported
his decision. Colleagues took similar risks to assist him. Major
media outlets risked their futures to publish what Ellsberg gave
them and to interview him while he was in hiding from the law. A
member of Congress (former senator Mike Gravel, who was present
on Thursday) risked his future to read the Pentagon Papers into
the congressional record. The Supreme Court ruled against the president
of the United States. And Ellsberg became a brilliant spokesman
for his cause.

A lot of factors
combined to create an incredible impact from the leaking of one
7,000-page pile of documents. This exposure helped end the war in
Vietnam, and helped put some spine into our media outlets, our Congress,
and our courts’ treatment of the First Amendment.

However, Ellsberg
expected more. He expected Americans to change their thinking about
wars. He expected us not to fall for obvious lies about wars anymore.
He thought that people would digest and synthesize the untold story
he exposed. So, in some ways, he was of course disappointed. And,
of course, what good he did for the media and Congress quickly wore
off.

In the film
we’re told that the New York Times decided to publish top-secret
documents because it thought it would not be able to survive the
disgrace of the world eventually learning that it had acquired the
documents and not published them. This sounds like something out
of Alice in Wonderland today in our world where the New
York Times buries most interesting stories, where it dutifully
kept a warrantless spying story secret for a year, where it still
hasn’t reported on most of the stories found in the same book that
forced that story out, and where it pushed war lies about Iraq and
now does the same for Iran.

Most crimes
today are public. Bush and Cheney brag about torture on television.
Nothing happens. Documents like the Downing Street Minutes are studiously
ignored. Whistleblowers post their stories on the internet. Congress
no longer impeaches or even issues subpoenas. And the RAND Corporation,
from which Ellsberg leaked his documents, held a propaganda-fest
about escalation in Afghanistan on Capitol Hill the same day as
the movie premier.

In the film
we’re told that Americans were enraged to learn from the Pentagon
Papers that the Vietnam War was being fought to "save face."
At RAND’s forum on Thursday, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution
openly argued for an escalation in Afghanistan, because withdrawal
would mean a "huge PR victory for al Qaeda."

Our crimes,
like our system of campaign bribery or our degradation of journalism,
are mostly out in the open now. No doubt there are documents in
the White House or the Pentagon or RAND indicating knowledge of
the hopelessness of quagmire continuation in Afghanistan. But who
would ever dare leak them? Who would ever dare help that person
do so? Once posted online, who would compel a newspaper or a television
network to notice? Once the information was in the corporate media,
who would force Congress to care? Once Congress cared, who would
shut down Washington DC until the powers of subpoena and impeachment
were revived?

It seems to
me that what we need is not a new Dan Ellsberg for our generation.
We need a whole new generation. We need dozens of Dan Ellsbergs
and Dan Ellsberg accomplices throughout our government, and we need
them to act frequently and with eternal vigilance. Luckily for us,
Ellsberg has provided an ideal model for how to conduct yourself
when in a position like his. Ellsberg has also written the foreword
to a
book by Ann Wright
(who was there on Thursday) that provides
more recent role models. And those of us who are not in possession
of classified crime records can help as well. We can raise bloody
hell until Congress passes a media shield law and a whistle-blower
bill of rights. We can befriend war-makers, modern-day Ellsbergs,
and reach their hearts. And we can build media outlets that do real
reporting. We must do these things. Lets do them for the most dangerous
man in America.

Reprinted
from Global Research.

November
3, 2009

David Swanson
is the author of the new book Daybreak:
Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union

by
Seven Stories Press. Visit his
website
.

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