Docu-Dumps Past: The Pentagon Papers Trial - 1973

(Daniel Elssberg - the shadow of Nixon was everywhere) [media id=17641] With today's revelations over the Wikileaked "Afghanistan Papers", it brin

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(Daniel Elssberg - the shadow of Nixon was everywhere)


With today's revelations over the Wikileaked "Afghanistan Papers", it brings to mind another famous set of papers that proved an embarrassment to U.S. Foreign Policy. The infamous Pentagon Papers and the subsequent trial of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo. The Pentagon Papers were a huge thorn in the side of the Nixon White House, made worse by illegal wiretaps and break-ins having to do with Ellsberg, all leading to the bigger picture which was Watergate.

Some say the disclosure of those papers, which outlined details of our failed excursion in Vietnam may have brought the war to a conclusion quicker. And had there not been the Pentagon Papers would there have been break ins and wiretaps of Daniel Ellsberg and others leading to the Watergate break in. It's a thought.

In any event, Ellsberg and Russo were jubilant as they held a press conference shortly after the acquittal was announced on May 12, 1973.

Daniel Ellsberg: “It’s a dramatic confirmation of the kinds of lessons that we read and that I first read in the Pentagon papers. And that I wanted to share with the American people lessons that were very painful for me as someone who had worked for the Executive Branch for all my professional life. For fifteen years including the Marine Corps, twelve years at the Department of Defense, White House, others. Those were lessons that the people that I had worked for had been corrupted by the absolute, enormous, unchallenged power that they’d come to exert in the last generation, the last thirty years or so, as any humans would be. That they were acting arrogantly, and ultimately that meant ignorantly and wrongly. And that the papers, of course, don’t tell the solution to that any more than Watergate tells the solution. I think the people of this country are more prepared to learn those same lessons in the domestic context than they were fully ready to learn about the Pentagon papers when the only victims were foreigners.”

Stop me if you're thinking what I'm thinking - but there's an eerie similarity here. The only difference is - Nixon was still in office when these revelations came to light. Bush isn't.

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