Berkeley’s Ellsberg

By Steed Dropout
June 12, 2013.
Berkeley, Ca


In a press interview, Tuesday in Berkeley, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, took questions about leaking. I was there taking pictures.

Saying “I don’t know him [Edward Snowden, who recently leaked government surveillance of Americans]; I would have advised him not to do it, but I’d be wrong. If Snowden has to spend the rest of his life in jail it would be worth it to tell the public what our government is doing,” Ellsberg said.

This quote reflects the views of Ellsberg when he leaked “the Pentagon Papers.”

He has written that fifty-two years ago he was inspired to leak by a jailed draft resister, who said he was glad to be joining his friends.

Photo by Ted Friedman.

In some sense, Ellsberg/Thoreau spawned romantic sacrifice (like jail) and writers like Chris Hedges have trudged along with this idea. Unfortunately, it is this chain of thought that has produced extremism — better to die for a cause than live a lie.

A true resistance (high ideals based).

Ironically, Occupy Berkeley (the city), which dragged on way past its death produced not a single act of resistance, unless you include the drunken camp hangers on, who were jailed for their own crimes and misdemeanors not on behalf of Occupy.

Ellsberg is the conscience of generations. At 81, he joined Occupy Cal Berkeley last year, where he often spoke in General Assemblies.

He appeared in panel Tuesday at a packed chapel at Berkeley St John’s Presbyterian Church. He wrote this Monday for the Guardian U.K.:

“The United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people’s privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative structure of such a state.”

Civil libertarians in church. Photo by Ted Friedman.

“If we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9-11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous….”

“What is not legitimate is to use a secrecy system to hide programs that are blatantly unconstitutional.”

Ellsberg is a Berkeley resident.

Although he has not lived here his entire life, he is a good fit for Berkeley, which was founded on skepticism. Berkeley can claim a sizable population of radicals, some of whom thrive on jail. Ellsberg would love that.

Civil libertarians in church. Photo by Ted Friedman.

This just didn’t seem to be the right time to Ask Ellsberg how he liked Berkeley.

These views do not represent those of any publications which publish my words and pictures. Nor is this blog sponsored.

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