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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!

Moreover, Snowden did not come across the data accidentally after going to work as a Booz Allen contractor, but has said he purposefully took the job in order to gain access to secrets and then to leak them. He did not come across documents that then made him reconsider his earlier point of view. His goal from day one was to interfere with the effort of our intelligence apparatus to protect our national security. As Ellsberg writes, in his case, his authorized access to top-secret documents “taught me that Congress and the American people had been lied to by successive presidents and dragged into a hopelessly stalemated war that was illegitimate from the start.”

One can argue, as I would, with Ellsberg’s assessment of the nature of the war in Vietnam. But he is correct when he writes that it was only after his work at the Rand Corporation and for the Pentagon that he changed his point of view and became disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy and how it was carried out. Ellsberg did not take his job in order to gain access and leak secrets.

Finally, Ellsberg ends by going way beyond moral equivalence between the United States and the old totalitarian Soviet Union. He repeats the canard that our nation has become “the United Stasi of America,” referring to the hated secret police of the old East Germany — the so-called German Democratic Republic — whose powers way exceeded that of Hitler’s Gestapo.

Therefore, to Ellsberg, any nation Snowden goes to is worse than the two regimes that have offered him sanctuary, and he advises him not to return to the United States. After all, to Ellsberg, who freely speaks out as he wishes, we are living in the equivalent of a totalitarian system as bad as Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. So if that is true, living in Chavezista Venezuela or Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua means living in relative freedom. Viewing Snowden as a protector of the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution, he warns that Snowden even faces assassination from U.S. Special Forces

Daniel Ellsberg’s defense of Edward Snowden reveals more about Ellsberg’s frame of mind than it is a compelling defense of Snowden’s treachery. Daniel Ellsberg reveals himself to be a man who has moved from acting out of conscience — as he did decades ago — to becoming just another far leftist conspiracy monger who believes our nation to be close to totalitarianism and run by monsters. He has no faith in the people and its institutions, which have served us well since our Founding. He believes that those who seek to keep our nation safe are our enemies, and that our real enemies are our friends.

Like Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg is no hero, and the advice he gives should be ignored.

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.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Daniel Ellsberg’s defense of Edward Snowden reveals more about Ellsberg’s frame of mind than it is a compelling defense of Snowden’s treachery. "

Let me be frank - Ron Radosh's continued throw-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink attacks on Edward Snowden reveals more about Radosh's [totalitarian/anti-Bill of Rights] frame of mind than it is a [in the slightest] compelling defense of Obama's and the N-Stasi-A's treachery.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
". By seeking sanctuary in leftist authoritarian regimes that have scant regard for press freedom or civil liberties"

What the Hell do you think the United States has become under Herr Hussein Obama and his out of control N-Stasi-A and I-Revenge-S ??? You should be more concerned with their scant regard for press freedom and civil liberties in our country, my country anyway, than in Nicaragua or Venezuela or Timbucktoo. And it's not like Snowden has a whole lot of great options either. You keep wanting to make this about Snowden. He is incidental. What America is becoming is the vital.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (53)
All Comments   (53)
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yet again Mr. Radish sides with the Statists...
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...who believes our nation to be close to totalitarianism and run by monsters."

And how is that different from the Obama-haters that dominate the comment sections at PJM?

" He has no faith in the people and its institutions, which have served us well since our Founding."

Again, the rabid Obama-haters dominating here share those sentiments as well. Why the duplicity?
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
my classmate's mother-in-law makes $75 every hour on the internet. She has been fired from work for 9 months but last month her income was $12112 just working on the internet for a few hours. Go to this web site and read more... www.Can99.com
40 weeks ago
40 weeks 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.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
the criticism of Mr. Radosh is accurate and well deserved.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks 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
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
R.Radosh -as usual, taking the wrong side of the issue.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
A Washington, D.C.-based privacy rights group confirmed to The Hill that they will file an emergency petition with the Supreme Court on Monday in an effort to shut down the National Security Agency’s gathering of domestic telephone records.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, said the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding the NSA program requires an immediate response from the nation’s highest court.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, said the “exceptional circumstances” surrounding the NSA program requires an immediate response from the nation’s highest court.

EPIC argued that it couldn't go the traditional route through the court system because the lower courts have no authority over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which monitors the NSA programs.

In their petition, EPIC argues the secret intelligence court “exceeded its statutory jurisdiction when it ordered production of millions of domestic telephone records that cannot plausibly be relevant to an authorized investigation.”

40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
40 weeks ago
40 weeks 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.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Neither would ever admit it, even to himself, but in many ways Radosh and Obama are bothers-from-another-mother. Both certainly seem very alien to the Founding Fathers. Both would make the Founding Fathers say, "Why did we even bother?"

As Barry Goldwater said of their the end justifies the means totalitarianism - If ever there was a philosophy of government totally at war with that of the Founding Fathers, it is this one.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
you're on a roll brother, preach it!
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
I heard that Barry Goldwater actually was pretty much too extreme for the Founding Fathers, though.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks 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.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
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