Secrecy Corrupts … Snowden Is Right

Snowden was not mistaken to flee the U.S.. UU.
Daniel Ellsberg · · · · ·
Adapted from http://www.sinpermiso.info/textos/index.php?id=6152
07/14/13
Cover of "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam an...

Cover via Amazon

Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, was accused in 1971 of violating the Espionage Act and of theft and conspiracy, for copying the so-called Pentagon Papers. The judgment was overturned in 1971 after he presented evidence to the court of the U.S. government misconduct, including illegal wiretapping.

 

Many people compare Edward Snowden unfavorably to me, for leaving the country and seeking asylum rather than face trial as I did. The country in which I stayed was a different America, long ago.

After the New York Times was prevented from publishing the Pentagon Papers – on June 15, 1971, the first of a newspaper censorship in American history – and I had given a copy to the Washington Post (which was also prohibited from publishing it), I went underground with my wife, Patricia, for thirteen days. My goal (quite similar to Snowden’s travel to Hong Kong) was to elude the vigilance while preparing – with the crucial help of a number of people yet unknown to the FBI – for the sequential distribution of the Pentagon Papers among 17 other newspapers, given the two prohibitions. The last three days of the period passed in defiance of a warrant. Like Snowden today, I was a “fugitive from justice”.

However, when I gave myself to be held in Boston, after having given out the last copies of the papers in my possession the night before, I was released on bail the same day. Later, when the accusations were compounded against me, from three to a dozen initial charges, which carried a possible sentence of 115 years, my bail increased to $ 50,000. But during the two years that I was tried, I was free to talk to the press and public, at rallies and conferences. At the end of the day, I was part of a movement against a war that is still going on. Helping to end the war was my outstanding concern, which I could not have done from abroad, and it never entered my head to leave the country.   

There is not the slightest possibility that this experience will be repeated today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by revealing actions of the White House against a criminal defendant, as it clearly was in Richard Nixon era.

I have the hope that the revelations of Snowden will trigger a movement that rescues our democracy, but he could not be part of that movement had he stayed here. There is null chance that he might be released on bail, as I was. On the other hand, he would be in a prison cell as Bradley Manning, in solitary confinement.   

Snowden would be confined in total isolation, even longer than that suffered by Manning during his three years in prison before recent start of his trial. The Special Rapporteur on Torture of United Nations on Manning described the conditions as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” (this would be realistic foundation in most countries to grant on Snowden’s request for asylum, if they could resist the intimidation and bribery by United States).

Snowden believes he has done nothing wrong. I absolutely agree. More than 40 years after the publicationof of the Pentagon Papers without permission on my part, these leaks are still the lifeblood of a free press and our republic. 

One of the lessons of the Pentagon Papers and Snowden leaks is simple : secrecy corrupts, as does power.  

Daniel Ellsberg (1931), legendary civil rights activist, became famous for leaking in 1971 the New York Times called Pentagon Papers, which revealed the involvement of the U.S. in Vietnam. PhD in Economics from Harvard, is also known for the “Ellsberg paradox” in the field of mathematical theory of decision.

English: Four Presidents: President Ronald Rea...

Four Presidents: President Ronald Reagan with his three predecessors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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