Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg said Tuesday that disgraced former Republican President Richard M. Nixon would “admire [President Barack] Obama’s boldness” in trying to stifle whistleblowers.
“Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, might take bittersweet satisfaction to know that he was not the last smart president to prolong unjustifiably a senseless, unwinnable war, at great cost in human life,” Ellsberg told CNN. “And his aide Henry Kissinger was not the last American official to win an undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.”
“He would probably also feel vindicated (and envious) that ALL the crimes he committed against me — which forced his resignation facing impeachment — are now legal,” he continued.
“That includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst’s office (for material to blackmail me into silence), warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White House hit squad to ‘incapacitate me totally’ (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971)… But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama’s executive orders. [T]hey have all become legal.”
“There is no further need for present or future presidents to commit obstructions of justice (like Nixon’s bribes to potential witnesses) to conceal such acts. Under the new laws, Nixon would have stayed in office, and the Vietnam War would have continued at least several more years,” Ellsberg added.
The former military analyst noted that Obama, like Nixon before him, has tried to use the Espionage Act to silence whistleblowers.
Nixon “would be impressed to see that President Obama has now brought five such indictments against leaks, almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together,” he said. “He could only admire Obama’s boldness in using the same Espionage Act provisions used against me — almost surely unconstitutional used against disclosures to the American press and public in my day, less surely under the current Supreme Court — to indict Thomas Drake, a classic whistleblower who exposed illegality and waste in the NSA.”
Ellsberg has also been an outspoken supporter of Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of leaking thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. Ellsberg was arrested outside the White House in March while attending a protest in support of Manning.
“Do you believe what Bradley did was necessary and heroic?” CNN asked.
“Yes,” Ellsberg replied.
PBS is set to air a two-part documentary on June 13 and 14 entitled The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.
The U.S government announced last month that 40 years after Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and 18 other newspapers, the study was being declassified and released to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library.
Watch this trailer for PBS’ The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.