In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg faced 115 years in prison for disclosing Pentagon papers while he was a Defense and State Department official.
The papers that Ellsberg released were a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War. He sent the report to the top media outlets at the time.
On January 3, 1973, Ellsberg was formally charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. The charges included theft and conspiracy. Because of governmental misconduct and illegal evidence-gathering, and the defense by Leonard Boudin and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson the case against him was dismissed by Judge William Matthew Byrne on May 11, 1973.
In 2006, Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. In 2018 he was awarded the Olof Palme Prize for his “profound humanism and exceptional moral courage.”
Ellsberg is now speaking out about the presidency of Donald Trump.
“For almost four years, I’ve been very worried — ashamed and dismayed, really — that my country allowed Donald Trump to be president. It’s now of transcendent importance to prevent him from gaining a second term.
“So, I’m urging people to vote for Joe Biden. As a progressive, I’ve certainly disagreed with him on many issues in the past. In fact, he was low on my list of preferences among the Democratic candidates. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, as I did in 2016. (Elizabeth Warren would have been my second choice this year.),” Ellsberg shares.
He adds that “now, I’m in the fullest agreement with Sanders and other progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they urge us to support Biden to defeat Donald Trump, not only with our own votes but with our efforts to persuade others to do so.”
Ellsberg believes that climate change is an issue that needs immediate attention and although he doesn’t agree with everything in the Green New Deal, he believes that Biden will do all he can to combat the issue.
“The current president is doing everything he can to maximize fossil-fuel emissions while eliminating regulations that would reduce them. Donald Trump is doing all he can to encourage drilling, fracking, and burning of fossil fuels, at a time when the scientific evidence is clear that continuing such a path may mean irreversibly calamitous climate change.
“While climate disaster is probably baked in right now, even greater global catastrophe can be prevented — but only by programs that will truly work toward sharply reducing carbon emissions and then ending them by 2050. Whether we as a species will achieve that is an open question. But there’s no doubt that the present course is self-destructive, for humans and the planet we depend on for life. The world of human civilization cannot afford another four years of Trump’s presidency,” Ellsberg continues.
“That alone is sufficient reason to do whatever we can to remove Trump from the White House. Hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths resulting from his pandemic negligence are another. But there are at least two more sufficient reasons for the urgency of our efforts to do this. What must also stop is his encouragement of emotions and activism of white supremacy from the Oval Office. Trump’s refusal to disavow flagrant racism has underscored his own reliance on it for political support.”
Ellsberg goes on to state that he sees Trump as an enemy of the Constitution.
“I took an oath as a Marine, and later the same oath in the Defense Department and the State Department. It is an oath to defend and support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign, and domestic. I now see Donald J. Trump as a domestic enemy of the Constitution, in the sense of that oath. As president, he has assaulted not only the First Amendment but also virtually every other aspect and institution of our country that preserves us as a republic.”
Ellsberg says that as a country we must put any reservations we may have about Joe Biden aside. He believes a victory by Biden would be “dodging a bullet”
He adds that electing Biden will prevent “the destruction of our Constitution as a functional document and averting irreversible damage to human civilization in the next four years.”