Texas Republican demanded gratitude from Black Americans because white people participated in ending slavery in the United States.
During a C-SPAN call-in program celebrating Juneteenth, a Republican caller from Texas named Dave blamed slavery on Democrats.
"I have not heard one white Democrat apologize for slavery," he said. "I haven't heard any Black person say thank you to the over 300,000 white men who died to free those Black slaves."
A Letter from Daniel Ellsberg’s Family, 6/16/23:
Early this morning, Daniel Ellsberg died peacefully in his home in Kensington, CA. His cause of death was pancreatic cancer, which was diagnosed February 17th. He was not in pain, and was surrounded by loving family. In the months since his diagnosis, he continued to speak out urgently to the media about nuclear dangers, especially the danger of nuclear war posed by the Ukraine war and Taiwan. (Links to the interviews are here.)
Daniel also shared many moments of love and joy in these months, including celebrating his 92nd birthday (April 7) and Patricia’s 85th birthday (April 26), and many visits and calls with friends and loved ones. He was thrilled to be able to give up the salt-free diet his doctor had him on for five years; hot chocolate, croissants, cake, poppyseed bagels, and lox gave him extra pleasure in these final months. He also enjoyed re-watching his favorite movies, including several viewings of his all-time favorite, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Thank you, everyone, for your outpouring of love, appreciation, and well-wishes to Dan in the previous months. It all warmed his heart at the end of his life.
In his final days, surrounded by so much love from so many people, Daniel joked, “If I had known dying would be like this, I would have done it sooner.” (Patricia replied, “Then I’m glad you didn’t.”)
Daniel was a seeker of truth and a patriotic truth-teller, an antiwar activist, a beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, a dear friend to many, and an inspiration to countless more. He will be dearly missed by all of us.
Thank you, Daniel, for sharing your wisdom, your heart, and your conscience with the world. We will keep your flame alive.
—Patricia, Mary, Robert, and Michael Ellsberg
Kensington, CA, 6/16/23
Ellsberg never ran for office and only occasionally appeared on TV. But he altered the course of U.S. history in a way few private citizens ever have.
As a military analyst working on a Pentagon project in 1971, Ellsberg chose to release to the public an extensive, documentary record of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Known as the "Pentagon Papers," Ellsberg's mammoth disclosure would help to end the longest U.S. war of the 20th century. It would also prompt a landmark Supreme Court decision on freedom of the press. And it would provoke a response from President Richard Nixon that led directly to the scandals that ended his presidency.
By the time he got to the Pentagon, Ellsberg, then 40, was a Marine Corps veteran with a Harvard doctorate who had worked for the Defense and State departments and the Rand Corporation. A "hawk" before going to Vietnam in 1965, Ellsberg had since turned against the war and the official justifications given for it.
Since 1969 he had been one of dozens of analysts studying and writing about the decisions behind the escalating U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The study covered the years from 1945 to 1968, and had first been commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara toward the end of that period.
Ellsberg and a Rand colleague, Anthony Russo, had access to a copy of the 7,000-pages of classified documents and historical narrative kept at Rand. The pair photocopied them at night, one page at a time over a period of months.
Ellsberg showed the material to a few senators who had been critics of the war. He said he hoped they would hold hearings, or enter the report in the Congressional Record. But they were not willing to do so, and one encouraged him to go to the New York Times.
Ellsberg did just that, contacting a legendary reporter at the New York Times whom he had known in Vietnam, Neal Sheehan. Supported by the top editors at the Times, Sheehan led a team of writers and editors in distilling the immense document for newspaper use. On June 13, 1971, the first story ran atop the front page.
Sheehan wrote that the United States had gone to war not to save the Vietnamese from Communism but to maintain "the power, influence and prestige of the United States ... irrespective of conditions in Vietnam."
The report that came to be known as the Pentagon papers said the U.S. had first been involved in Vietnam during World War II, when Americans helped Vietnamese resist Japanese occupation. After the war, the U.S. supported France's attempt to reclaim its colonies in Southeast Asia, largely to keep France in the alliance against the Soviet Union.
As the French forces faltered in Vietnam, the U.S. shouldered more and more of the cost of the war. And when the French gave up and left in 1954, the U.S. remained to protect Western investments and bolster an anti-communist government in Saigon (South Vietnam) while a Communist regime in Hanoi held sway in the country's northern half.
But almost none of this was known to the American public at the time, and when John F. Kennedy became president in 1961 he extended the commitments made by previous presidents. His successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, greatly expanded these commitments, escalating the war with hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops and relentless bombing campaigns in the mid-1960s.
Richard Nixon came to office in 1969 promising to end the war, but even as he reduced the U.S. troop presence he also widened the war into Cambodia and stepped up the bombing.
The most shocking revelation in Ellsberg's report was the willingness of one president and one administration after another to continue the commitment — and the upbeat assessments of the situation — even as they each came to believe the mission would ultimately fail, that no amount of conventional military force would subdue the Vietnamese resistance.
Before working on the Pentagon Papers, officially a study titled A History of Decision-Making in Vietnam 1945-68 commissioned from the Rand Corporation research organisation by the secretary of defense Robert McNamara, Ellsberg had spent two years at the US embassy in Saigon, advising on General Edward Lansdale’s “pacification” programme. As he sifted through the material gathered for the report, including evaluations which deemed the war unwinnable, he realised the enormity of the political fraud.
He began copying the documents, with the help of a former Rand colleague Anthony Russo, and in 1971, as the US extended the war with bombings of Laos and Cambodia, resolved to make them public. The chair of the senate foreign relations committee, William Fulbright, turned him down, as did the Washington Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and owner Katharine Graham; Graham was close to the secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who had known Ellsberg at Harvard; he advised her Ellsberg was “unbalanced and emotionally unstable”. Matthew Rhys played Ellsberg in the 2017 film The Post which loosely covers those events.
Neil Sheehan of the New York Times was a reporter Ellsberg admired in Vietnam; Sheehan convinced the Times to take the papers, the first instalment of which revealed that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the casus belli which launched full-scale US participation in the conflict, had been bogus.
The Nixon administration obtained an injunction prohibiting further publication; the supreme court’s overturning of that injunction, dismissing the idea of “prior restraint”, remains a cornerstone of US journalistic freedom. But leakers themselves were not protected. Ellsberg was hidden by anti-war activists while Mike Gravel, the US senator from Alaska, entered most of the leaked papers into the congressional record, and the Post played catch-up.
Meanwhile Nixon, furious at the leaks, created the so-called “plumbers” covert special investigation unit, to discover if Ellsberg had further material that might affect him directly, and to discredit him. When the plumbers’ bungled break-in at the Watergate offices revealed an earlier burglary of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, the ensuing chain of scandal and cover-up eventually forced Nixon’s resignation to avoid impeachment.
RESPECTS paid to Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg are worthless if they do not translate into action to defend today’s foremost exposer of US war crimes — Julian Assange.
Nor can we ignore either the lesson from his leak of the Pentagon Papers — that our governments lie systematically about war — or the concerns he raised in the last months of his life, that Nato powers are hurtling towards nuclear conflict with Russia and China.
Ellsberg was turned against the Vietnam war by direct experience of it — of the brutality and dishonesty of US commanders and strategists, who hid their real reasons for prosecuting the war and their private understanding that it was practically unwinnable but would continue to swallow resources and human lives indefinitely.
Vietnam saw the US kill more than two million people in a doomed attempt to crush communist revolution. But it was also a proxy war, a battleground seen in Washington as part of the global struggle for supremacy with the Soviet Union.
Today’s proxy war rages in Ukraine, where the US and Britain have worked to scupper peace talks — according to testimony from even US allies like Israel — while flooding in weapons in a bid to weaken a strategic rival, Russia.
Again we are being lied to, as leaked documents revealed earlier this year. We learned that the US had no faith whatsoever in the success of Ukraine’s counter-offensive. We learned that Nato states had put boots on the ground — Britain the highest number of all — bringing us dangerously close to direct war with a nuclear-armed adversary.
Such dishonesty is par for the course for the British government; it took the wounding of five special forces troops in Yemen in 2019 to reveal we were fighting that war, too.
Ellsberg played a prominent role in the defense of Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and particularly Julian Assange, founder and publisher of WikiLeaks. He wrote of Assange, “I was the first whistleblower prosecuted under the Espionage Act, and now he is the first prosecution [under the Espionage Act] for publishing.”
While the New York Times and other corporate media had published material leaked by Manning and Snowden, or published by WikiLeaks, they made no effort to defend them against prosecution by the Obama administration, which made more frequent use of the Espionage Act to persecute leakers and journalists than all previous governments in US history, combined.
Ellsberg gave testimony in one of the innumerable court hearings in the protracted legal process in the course of which the British government kept Assange locked up in the high-security Belmarsh prison, Britain’s Guantanamo, even though the WikiLeaks publisher faced no criminal charges in Britain, only an extradition request from the United States.
Assange and his family deeply appreciated this support, and Assange put Ellsberg on the restricted list of people allowed to call and speak with him in Belmarsh. For that reason, Assange was allowed to call Ellsberg and say goodbye to him after he announced publicly that he was dying of pancreatic cancer.
Assange is on the brink of extradition to the United States. He faces an unprecedented prosecution under the Espionage Act that could have him sentenced to 175 years – and open the way for Washington to pursue investigative journalists around the world who are deemed to have revealed US secrets.
Even at this 11th hour, the media is muted in condemnation of this obviously political case, in spite of the dire implications for freedom of information. And even though Assange has been held without charge for four years at Belmarsh high-security prison in London, at a cost to the UK taxpayer of hundreds of thousands of pounds, public sympathy for him is diluted because he has been cast as a reprobate.