Most Famous Whistleblower & Leaker In US History Dies At 92

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jun 16, 2023 - 11:30 PM

The man who was arguably the most famous whistleblower and leaker of classified documents in US history has died Friday. Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the "Pentagon Papers" which exposed long-running lies about Vietnam War, has passed at the age of 92, according to The Washington Post, citing a family statement.

Espionage charges against Ellsberg were dismissed in 1973, Getty Images.

Earlier this year he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was reportedly told by doctors he would have only months to live.

A statement released his family said, "Early this morning, Daniel Ellsberg died peacefully in his home in Kensington, California. His cause of death was pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed on February 17."

"He was not in pain, and was surrounded by loving family," it continued. "In the months since his diagnoses, he continued to speak out urgently to the media about nuclear dangers, especially the danger of nuclear war posed by the Ukraine war and Taiwan."

Below is a recent tribute and look back on his life written by Norman Solomon shortly after the cancer diagnosis [emphasis ZH]...

* * *

In just a few words — “those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future” — George Orwell summed up why narratives about history can be crucial.

And so, ever since the final helicopter liftoff from the U.S. Embassy’s roof in Saigon on April 30, 1975, the retrospective meaning of the Vietnam War has been a matter of intense dispute.

The dominant spin has been dismal and bipartisan. “We went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or to impose American will on other people,” Jimmy Carter declared soon after entering the White House in early 1977. “We went there to defend the freedom of the South Vietnamese.”

During the next decade, presidents ordered direct American military interventions on a much smaller scale, while the rationales were equally mendacious. Ronald Reagan ordered the 1983 invasion of Grenada, and George H.W. Bush ordered the 1989 invasion of Panama.

In early 1991, President Bush triumphantly proclaimed that reluctance to use U.S. military might after the Vietnam War had at last been vanquished. His exultation came after a five-week air war that enabled the Pentagon to kill upwards of 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

“It’s a proud day for America,” Bush said. “And, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

Two decades later — delivering what the White House titled “Remarks by the President at the Commemoration Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War” — Barack Obama did not even hint that the U.S. war in Vietnam was based on deception.

Speaking in May 2012, after he had more than tripled the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Obama said: “Let us resolve to never forget the costs of war, including the terrible loss of innocent civilians—not just in Vietnam, but in all wars.” Moments later, Obama flatly claimed: “When we fight, we do so to protect ourselves because it’s necessary.”

Such lies are the opposite of what Daniel Ellsberg has been illuminating for more than five decades. He says about the Vietnam War: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”

Outlooks like that are rarely heard or read in U.S. mass media. And overall, news outlets have much preferred to make only sanitized references to Ellsberg as a historic figure.

Much less acceptable is the Daniel Ellsberg who, since the end of the Vietnam War, was arrested nearly a hundred times for engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience against nuclear weapons and other aspects of the warfare industry.

After working inside the U.S. war machinery, Ellsberg became its highest-ranking operative to opt out — bravely throwing sand in its gears by revealing the top-secret Pentagon Papers, at the risk of spending the rest of his life in prison. The 7,000-page study exposed lies about U.S. policies in Vietnam told by four successive presidents.

During the 52 years since then, Ellsberg has continually provided key information and cogent analysis of pretexts for U.S. wars. And he has focused on what they’ve actually meant in human terms.

Ellsberg has explained, most comprehensively in his 2017 landmark book The Doomsday Machine, what is worst of all: The nation’s military-industrial-media establishment refuses to acknowledge, let alone mitigate, the insanity of the militarism that is logically headed toward nuclear war.

Helping to prevent nuclear war has been an overriding preoccupation of Ellsberg’s adult life. In The Doomsday Machine—subtitled “Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner”—he shares exceptional insights from working for the doomsday system as an insider and then working to defuse the doomsday system as an outsider.

An upsurge of media attention to Ellsberg resulted from the emergence of other heroic whistleblowers. In 2010, U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning was arrested for leaking a vast quantity of documents that exposed countless lies and war crimes.

Three years later, a former employee of a National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, went public with proof of mass surveillance by a digital Big Brother with mind-boggling reach.

By then, Ellsberg’s stature as the Pentagon Papers whistleblower had risen to near-veneration among many liberals in media and others happy to consign the virtues of such whistleblowing to the Vietnam War era.

Getty Images

But Ellsberg emphatically rejected the “Ellsberg good, Snowden bad” paradigm, which appealed to some eminent apologists for the status quo (such as Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote a specious New Yorker piece contrasting the two). Ellsberg has always vigorously supported Snowden, Manning and other “national security” whistleblowers at every turn.

Ellsberg disclosed in a public letter in early March that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, with a prognosis of three to six months to live. Now, in the closing time of his life, he continues to speak out with urgency, in particular about the need for genuine diplomacy between the U.S. and Russia, as well as the U.S. and China, to avert nuclear war.

Read the rest of the tribute here...