This one really knocked me for a loop. Daniel Ellsberg — a Marine Corps veteran, a State Department official who served in the field in Vietnam, and the man who eventually leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times — has probably seen it all and read it all when comes to the Vietnam War and, more generally the dark underside of American power. And yet, he was shocked by my new book. I still haven’t completely wrapped my head around it, but I’m grateful for the humbling blurb.
Who knows the hidden history of the Vietnam War better than Daniel Ellsberg? Not only did he observe the conflict firsthand from the field, but he read the the military’s secret documents and then allowed us all to do the same by releasing the “Pentagon Papers.” As such, I was a little shocked by the mind-blowing blurb Ellsberg offered for my next book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam. I’m a little overwhelmed.
“No book I have read in decades has so shaken me, as an American. Turse lays open the ground-level reality of a war that was far more atrocious than Americans at home have ever been allowed to know. He exposes official policies that encouraged ordinary American soldiers and airmen to inflict almost unimaginable horror and suffering on ordinary Vietnamese, followed by official cover-ups as tenacious as Turse’s own decade of investigative effort against them. Kill Anything That Moves is obligatory reading for Americans, because its implications for the likely scale of atrocities and civilian casualties inflicted and covered up in our latest wars are inescapable and staggering.” —Daniel Ellsberg, author of Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
2011 in Review: The Year Secrecy Jumped the Shark
As the year draws to a close, EFF is looking back at the major trends influencing digital rights in 2011 and discussing where we are in the fight for a free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.
The government has been using its secrecy system in absurd ways for decades, but 2011 was particularly egregious. Here are a few examples:
- Government report concludes the government classified 77 million documents in 2010, a 40% increase on the year before. The number of people with security clearances exceeded 4.2. million, more people than the city of Los Angeles.
- Government tells Air Force families, including their kids, it’s illegal to read WikiLeaks. The month before, the Air Force barred its service members fighting abroad from reading the New York Times—the country’s Paper of Record.
- Lawyers for Guantanamo detainees were barred from reading the WikiLeaks Guantanamo files, despite their contents being plastered on the front page of the New York Times.
“The re-release of the Pentagon Papers is very timely, if anyone were to read it,” Dan Ellsberg, the former RAND Corporation analyst who worked on the report and later provided it to The Times said recently.
The NYT writes: “He said they demonstrate the wisdom of giving war-making powers to Congress — a power that he lamented has been increasingly usurped by the executive branch.
‘It seems to me that what the Pentagon Papers really demonstrated 40 years ago was the price of that practice,’ Ellsberg said. ‘Which is that letting a small group of men in secret in the executive branch make these decisions — initiate them secretly, carry them out secretly and manipulate Congress, and lie to Congress and the public as to why they’re doing it and what they’re doing — is a recipe for, a guarantee of Vietnams and Iraqs and Libyas, and in general foolish, reckless, dangerous policies.’
Mr. Ellsberg said he wished more people would come forward to release information that could stop these wars, praising Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, the military intelligence analyst who is jailed on charges that he leaked a trove of government files to Wikileaks.
‘If he did what he’s accused of, then he’s my hero, because I’ve been waiting for somebody to do that for 40 years,’ Mr. Ellsberg said. ‘And no one has.’”
From the new issue of Columbia Journalism Review, “Unnecessary Secrets: Opening government, from Ellsberg to Manning,” by Sanford J. Ungar , author of The Papers & The Papers: An Account of the Legal and Political Battle Over the Pentagon Papers (which won a George Polk Award in 1972), president of Goucher College in Baltimore and a member of the U.S. Public Interest Declassification Board.