Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ron Radosh

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Daniel Ellsberg comes to the defense of Edward Snowden. His op-ed has evidently come as a shock to many people. For days, scores of commentators in print, TV, and radio have argued that when Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, he acted differently than young Snowden. After all, they point out, Ellsberg stayed in the United States, faced the music and a major trial, and did not go into exile.

This is only partially correct. Unlike Snowden, Ellsberg at first did not make it known publicly that he was the man responsible for giving The New York Times the Pentagon Papers. By doing so, he was escaping the eventual indictment he faced for violating the Espionage Act, for the act of theft and conspiracy in releasing them. (His trial was eventually dismissed in 1973, when the court was presented evidence of governmental misconduct, including illegal wiretapping.)

Ellsberg, most people forget, was outed by the late journalist Sidney Zion, who breached the trust of the journalist fraternity by calling a friend’s radio talk show and informing the listening audience that Ellsberg was the one who had given the papers to the Times.

As for Ellsberg, he says he did the same as Snowden — going underground with his wife for two weeks, in order, he writes, “to elude surveillance while I was arranging – with the crucial help of others still unknown to the FBI — to distribute the Pentagon Papers sequentially to 17 other newspapers.” He defied an arrest order for three days, therefore making him, supposedly, “like Snowden, a ‘fugitive from justice.’”

There is, however, a vast difference between defying an arrest order for three days before surrendering to the court in Boston, having given out the last copies of the Pentagon Papers the day before, and what Snowden did.  Snowden is not surrendering and returning to the United States; instead, he is seeking asylum in either Nicaragua or Venezuela, both countries having offered to take him in on his terms. By seeking sanctuary in leftist authoritarian regimes that have scant regard for press freedom or civil liberties, Snowden has made it quite clear that his motives are anything but libertarian.

Secondly, Ellsberg argues that in Nixon’s time, when he and the Left daily castigated the country as near fascist, the country was freer than it is today. Forgetting their hatred and disdain for the Nixon administration, Ellsberg writes that after he was indicted, he was freed on bond and was “free to speak to the media and at rallies and public lectures.” Considering himself part of a “movement against an ongoing war,” he stresses that he did not want to leave the country, and that such a step never crossed his mind.

According to Ellsberg, Snowden did not have the choice he had in the ’70s. Now, he argues, had Snowden stayed in the United States, he would be denied bail and held in prison incommunicado, like Bradley Manning. (Manning, of course, is in a military prison and is subject to different rules than Snowden would be.)

Ellsberg then writes “Snowden believes that he has done nothing wrong.” That statement simply is mind-boggling. Since when is one’s private view of actions taken a defense against an indictment for committing a crime? Recall that Alger Hiss claimed innocence despite proof of his guilt, and that Ethel and Julius Rosenberg did the same, and their defenders today rationalize their acts — since guilt by now has been proven and the damage they did established — as being understandable since they did it for good motives!

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I think Snowdon really is in a different political and legal atmosphere than Ellsberg. But I don't think he is a simple calculating spy like Hiss or the Rosenbergs. He is, until I see clear evidence to the contrary, a naive idealist. The man says he is a disappointed Obama voter, and has discovered that he has almost no place to run except preposterous paleo Marxist enclaves that may provide him with an existence, but not a life. One of the things that is amazing is how much control the US and I presume other powerful countries can exercise pursuing a fugitive, because, I presume, of the GWOT. I have no real problem with Obama killing Awlaki. I think Obama made a judgment, backed up by, I would hope, a formal finding, that Anwar Awlaki was wanted 'Dead or Alive'. But I sure would have a problem if any president similarly executed Snowdon, quite apart from any dead man switches he may have put in place. Both Nixon and Obama have in my view violated a basic tenet of American political life and constitutional government - to wit - burgled the opposition, and used the IRS to unfairly persecute opponents. No president between has crossed that line in my view. For me what this Snowdon business reveals is that technology has made massive advances in the ability of government to extend and exercise control of both its citizens and other countries.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (28)
All Comments   (28)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
yet again Mr. Radish sides with the Statists...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
My God this extreme criticism of Mr. Radosh is very sad. He has done the lions share of work on exposing the darkest side of our domestic enemies and knows the extent of infiltration the Soviets and their proxies accomplished within our own government and you all blow him off? We should be very grateful for the work he has done and that he had his second thoughts. You see he knows the other side because he once lived there by choice. I for one am very happy he, like Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, though enough to renounce and join the right side though it may still be the loosing side, thats up to you.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
the criticism of Mr. Radosh is accurate and well deserved.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."
-- Eric Snowden
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
R.Radosh -as usual, taking the wrong side of the issue.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
HOW THE HELL DID SNOWDEN GET SECURITY CLEARANCE?
It's not clear to me who Snowden is or what his motives are. But one thing is clear: The gov't/NSA/IRS/FBI and other alphabet agencies do a lousy job of protecting their own information, as well as the information they collect on US citizens.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I think Snowdon really is in a different political and legal atmosphere than Ellsberg. But I don't think he is a simple calculating spy like Hiss or the Rosenbergs. He is, until I see clear evidence to the contrary, a naive idealist. The man says he is a disappointed Obama voter, and has discovered that he has almost no place to run except preposterous paleo Marxist enclaves that may provide him with an existence, but not a life. One of the things that is amazing is how much control the US and I presume other powerful countries can exercise pursuing a fugitive, because, I presume, of the GWOT. I have no real problem with Obama killing Awlaki. I think Obama made a judgment, backed up by, I would hope, a formal finding, that Anwar Awlaki was wanted 'Dead or Alive'. But I sure would have a problem if any president similarly executed Snowdon, quite apart from any dead man switches he may have put in place. Both Nixon and Obama have in my view violated a basic tenet of American political life and constitutional government - to wit - burgled the opposition, and used the IRS to unfairly persecute opponents. No president between has crossed that line in my view. For me what this Snowdon business reveals is that technology has made massive advances in the ability of government to extend and exercise control of both its citizens and other countries.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ron, you need to learn 2 things, one, what conservatism actually is, and two that these institutions that protect us, are totalitarian, because they go too far in probing into personal lives. It's pure BS that they need to be so intrussive to do the job. Also, it is amazing that NSA has existed for so long and ppl didn't realize what they actually did.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ellsburg is traitorous scum with blood on his hands.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was oh so-counter-culture to declare Nixon and the US as already fascist during the Ellsberg fracas. Young Americans should brush up on European and American history. See http://clarespark.com/2013/04/21/fascism-what-it-is-what-it-is-not/.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The term "left-wing" originated during the French Revolution, in reference to the revolutionaries. Heck, there's a reason why Jean-Jacques Rousseau was labelled as the father of the modern left. Socialism and Communism, BTW, is Anglo-German in origin (Karl Marx, noted as the father of Socialism, was German), which means Socialism is exactly under its definition, regardless of the Nazi Party's usage or the Soviet's usage. Even Hitler in some remarks by generals was inspired by Marx. So please, don't bother claiming he wasn't socialist, he was.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
View All