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Interview: Daniel Ellsberg

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  February 16, 2010

How many high-ranking government officials these days are willing to pick up a rifle and step onto the front lines, as you did? And if they did, how much longer do you think we would be in Afghanistan?
There are two types of courage involved with what I did. When it comes to picking up a rifle, millions of people are capable of doing that, as we see in Iraq or Vietnam. But when it comes to risking their careers, or risking being invited to lunch by the establishment, it turns out that's remarkably rare. There should be at least one leak like the Pentagon Papers every year. I'd love to see a lot more of it, and I think this film has the power to help people find that courage.

As you say, Vietnam was a crime perpetuated by five presidents. But was Nixon particularly foul in his blatant disregard for human life?
He was really kind of normal for that level. Look — Obama is making a choice now that will lead to the deaths of many thousands of civilians in Afghanistan by American hands. By ordinary standards of presidents, he is a decent man. But those standards aren't good enough. He's in a position either to kill or not to kill, and he's made the decision to kill. I wouldn't say he's worse than Nixon, but I wouldn't say he's a lot better, either. Wow — I've never said that in such a way before.

Well, in that case, I'm glad I have my tape recorder on. Although if I didn't, I suppose I could have just asked the FBI for a copy.
Lots of luck in getting that. Thanks to Obama, that's all beyond the reach of civil suits now.

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  Topics: Features , Barack Obama, Barack Obama, CULTURE,  More more >
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