Political secrets that could lead to illegal or catastrophic actions must be revealed, no matter the personal cost, Daniel Ellsberg told a capacity audience in Dodds Auditorium March 8.
Ellsberg, who in 1971 released the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, was interviewed by Bart Gellman ’82, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and a visiting lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School. Together, they discussed the implications of leaking political secrets and the parallels between the Pentagon Papers and WikiLeaks.
“I identify very much with Bradley Manning,” said Ellsberg of the Army intelligence analyst who faces a court-martial on charges of obtaining secret war logs and State Department cables about Afghanistan and Iraq that subsequently were released by WikiLeaks. “Despite the stress of his position, he did the right thing.”
Ellsberg emphasized the importance of public employees leaking such information, highlighting situations in which it is necessary, such as government misrepresentations of the truth.
“[If] the effect of the lies is to get us into not just a war but a disastrous, unjust war,” he said, “that’s when they should consider giving up their job, clearance, career, and perhaps their marriage and their children’s education.”