Monday, November 14, 2005

History is repeating Vietnam catastrope in Iraq, by Daniel Ellsberg.

Published on Sunday, November 13, 2005 by The Daily Record
(Parsippany, New Jersey)
Pentagon Papers' Ellsberg Sees a New War, Same Lies
Critic of Vietnam conflict, 1971 whistleblower says
'history is repeating itself' in Iraq

by Sarah N. Lynch

MAPLEWOOD -- For 74-year-old Daniel Ellsberg, who is best known for his leading role in leaking the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times in 1971, the war in Iraq, the workings of the Bush administration and
the Valerie Plame leak all feel like déjà vu.

The Bush administration is possibly 'the worst administration in our history,' Daniel Ellsberg, source of the PentagonPapers, told NJ Peace Action at a luncheon at Columbia High School in Maplewood on Saturday. (Danielle Austen/Daily Record)

"History is repeating itself to an extent," he told a packed audience of NJ Peace Action members during the organization's annual soup luncheon at Columbia High School on Saturday.

Ellsberg cited numerous parallels between the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam and also urged Americans to stand up against an administration that he deems to be possibly "the worst administration in our history."

At times, his observations on the incidents drew gasps from the audience and at other moments laughter -- particularly when he accidentally said the name of Scooter "Libby" instead of G. Gordon "Liddy."

He then corrected himself, but he implied with a laugh that his mistake is really not that far off the mark.

In both an exclusive interview with the Daily Record and during his speech on Saturday, Ellsberg recalled his first day and night at the Pentagon in 1964 --the day of the United States' first air raids against the North Vietnamese.

The raids were in response to an alleged attack by the Vietnamese against U.S. destroyers in the Tonkin Gulf. That attack prompted Congress to delegate its constitutional power of war and peace to the president.

But the Tonkin Gulf attack never really occurred, he said, just as Joseph Wilson never discovered yellowcake uranium in Africa.

"The bottom line is we were lied into this war as much as we were lied into Vietnam in very similar ways," Ellsberg said. "In fact, it's becoming apparent that the documents on which they based their claim that there were WMDs in Iraq were actually forged."

"In short, in both cases, the administration took indications that were very ambiguous and uncertain and lied about them by saying they were unequivocal and precise, and they misled the Congress and misled the American people."

The Pentagon Papers revealed to the American people that the war in Vietnam was basically un-winnable. Ellsberg sat on this secret for quite a number of years until one day, he decided he was going to photocopy the entire 7,000-page report and give it to Congress. When Congress did nothing with it, he distributed it in 1971 to The New York Times and other newspapers -- leaking a secret that the Nixon administration wanted to keep under wraps.

The next day the Nixon administration put an injunction on the Times and began making plans to go after Ellsberg for his actions.

Smear campaign

To counter the Ellsberg leak, the Nixon administration set out to leak information about Ellsberg to embarrass him in the press, he said. The CIA broke into his psychoanalyst's office searching for information about him.

At this point in his speech, Ellsberg drew laughter from the audience as he imitated the voices of former President Richard M. Nixon and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger recorded onto the infamous White House tapes. The conversations he imitated for the audience were predominantly conversations that Nixon actually had with aides about Ellsberg at the time.

"Don't you agree we have to pursue the Ellsberg case now?"
Ellsberg said in Nixon's gruff, scratchy voice. "Let's get that (expletive) into jail."

"We've got to get him ... We must destroy him in the press."

What is currently happening to Joseph Wilson and his wife, former CIA operative Plame, are mirror images of his situation, Ellsberg said.

Also like the war in Vietnam, Ellsberg said Iraq too is an
un-winnable war, but with a lack of Democratic leadership and with the workings of the Bush administration, there does not appear to be an end in

"I think it will be a long time before we get out of Iraq, very long, with Democrats or Republicans. The democratic base would be glad to see us out, as I would ... That does not mean we are going to get democratic leaders who are going to give up those bases in Iraq in the midst of the oil fields," Ellsberg said. He later criticized U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., for advocating to send more troops there.

Many in the audience said they agreed.

"We cannot win this type of battle with well-trained, highly technical troops," said Norma Elliott of Warren.

"You can compare it to the Revolutionary War. The Redcoats were marching with bright red uniforms. They had cannons and the best guns, and we won because we had an insurgency. We were hiding -- shooting from the trees."

While the House is predominantly made up of Republicans, making impeachment for Bush virtually impossible, Ellsberg urged the audience not to give up. Democrats in the Senate must call for investigations into everything from prewar intelligence to the questions surrounding Bush's election victory in Ohio last year, he said.

He also laid out a list of what be believes are Bush's plans for the remaining three years of his term -- plans that could become successful should the United States sustain another terrorist attack.

"If there's a terrorist attack, I think the president will get what he wants, and here's what I think he wants. This is my belief. I believe that what he wants is a new Patriot Act that's already been drafted, I feel sure, that will make this Patriot Act look like the Bill of Rights," said Ellsberg, who lives in California and spends his time lecturing and writing about his experiences.

Militarism threat

Other possible goals that Ellsberg believes are in the minds of the administration also could include resorting to military rule on our own soil, imposing a draft on men and women and launching attacks on Syria and Iran.

"This may be the first public revelation to date that there is an ominous cloud approaching, meaning a metamorphosis in our democracy," said Alex Lemski of Hanover.

"History is repeating itself due to the ambition of power. That's the bottom line."

Toward the end, Ellsberg credited people like Richard Clarke for going to the press to reveal secrets, but he also criticized both those whistleblowers and himself for waiting until it was too late.

"Don't do what I did," he said. "Don't wait until another war has been started against Iran and Syria."

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At 6:28 PM, Blogger Amelia said...

after reading this article I feel that this author just dos'nt like Bush and is mad because republicans are in office. I beleive that Bush is doing all he can do to put an end to all this teror taking place. I belive that the Iraqi war is neccassary because we're helping the suffering people in other contries who are living in hell because of the Taliban and whatever else is going on over seas. These poor poeple need freedom from what they are living in. I beleive this war is helping other contries and its the right thing to do. #20

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Candice Lightfoot said...

I beleive that it is true that it will be a long time beofre the U.S. is out of Iraq. I am not one to justify this war, for all the information I know is what I have learned from thre media. The only ones who have a more accurate description of what is going on, are the ones directly involved. From my perspective I believe that there are both benefits and consequences of this war, the benefit is the chance to spread democracy to other countries.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger Emily said...

It will definately be a longtime before the US comes out of Iraq. We have been over there since 2001, thats 4 years. and it doesn't seem as though we have gotten anything accomplished. I can't really say that I comply with the war because I think a lot of innocent lives have been risked and taken for no reason. Then again, I would much rather our troops be over there, than for the Iraq army to be over here because it would just make things so much worse. So, I guess I'm indifferent. I dont see it as something that could have been completely avoided, but I do think that better actions could have been taken.


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