Daniel Ellsberg

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Posted by panchmaster from pool1192.cvx24-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net ( on Tuesday, November 19, 2002 at 10:28PM :

+++The only problem I have with this is the idea that Al Qaida is "dangerous". Hell I'M dangerous if you starve my child, kill my wife, bulldoze my house, wreck my career, trash my religious beliefs, steal my inheritance and wealth. What makes the United States so damn "dangerous" AND lethal??? You can make ordinary people dangerous...unstable people downright pathological and Texans fart oil.

The Salon Interview: Daniel Ellsberg

The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers talks about why five American
presidents lied about Vietnam -- and how to get the truth on Iraq.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
Nov. 19, 2002

Do you believe our current policies toward Iraq are as irrational as our
policies in Indochina a generation ago?

Yes, I do. I believe that an invasion of Iraq will increase the danger
of terrorism to this country, and thus will be measured in American
lives. Al-Qaida is a real threat to this country, and I believe the
chance of al-Qaida getting weapons of mass destruction from Saddam will
be greatly increased if we attack Iraq, by the spectacle of Muslims,
civilians and military, being killed by the United States.

I think that will increase the availability of weapons of mass
destruction to al-Qaida, and Americans will die as a result of that, in
addition to whatever else al-Qaida can do.

Secondly, al-Qaida will acquire tens or hundreds of thousands of new
recruits for suicide attacks, in the wave of rage I think will sweep
over the Muslim world when they see this war being conducted for what
they correctly perceive as being without justification, as a war for oil
and other purposes that don't justify it.

Third, the possibility of cooperation with the U.S. by governments of
countries with large Muslim populations, which is essential to the
struggle against al-Qaida, will become impossible for those governments.
They will find themselves unwilling to do what will cost them their
office and perhaps their lives.

They will not be able to cooperate with the U.S., after we've killed
many Iraqis in this war. And without that cooperation again, al-Qaida's
task becomes easier, and Americans and other Europeans and others will
die as a result, including Israelis, just as I believe Sharon's policies
are at the cost of many more Israeli lives than they are saving.

So far we've talked about the war mainly as irrational. But you have
famously described the war not as a mistake but a crime. You base this
charge on the evidence in the Pentagon Papers that U.S. leaders from
1954 to 1968 knew they were opposing self-determination in South
Vietnam, and were waging an aggressive war against a people who did not
threaten us. What impact did your conclusion that the U.S. was morally
wrong in Vietnam have on your actions?

The evidence made clear that our war was a crime against the peace. And
for me to see that impelled me to take nonviolent actions I was not led
to do when I considered it simply a mistake. When I saw the war as
unjustified homicide, it seemed to me that it should stop not just
gracefully or whenever possible, but that it should stop as soon as
possible. I decided I should do more than I had yet done, a course that
involved great risk for me including life in prison.

Do you also believe any war against Iraq would also be criminal?

Even if there was a threat, it is not a threat that would justify the
extreme dangers of committing mass murder against civilians that is
likely to occur, and even the murders I think of Iraqi soldiers.
Unjustified aggressive killing of Iraqi soldiers is also murder. Iraqi
soldiers have not done anything in the past five years or so, certainly
not in the past year, that sentences them to death by our president or
by our Congress or by the U.N.

So whoever authorizes it, it's aggression and it's murder. And by the
way we were earlier asking, well, what difference does it make to call
it that, death is death, what does it matter whether you call it murder?
It made a difference to me when I was a Marine, when I was in Vietnam,
and finally when I came to see what we were doing as murder, I didn't
want to participate in murder or aggression. And I went further than to
avoid that than I would have done.

And I think right now if people came to perceive what we were doing as
totally illegal and unjustified, they might do more to oppose it than
they would otherwise. I don't have a lot of faith that that will come
about. The media will simply not allow that perception on the whole to
emerge. But I do think a media doing its job and senators to some degree
doing their job, as 23 did do, can get across the fact to the public
that the human costs and the risks of this are enormous.

What do you think a person in the Bush administration who opposes this
war should do?

I encourage people who are in the position now that I was in then --
namely of seeing us about to embark on a wrongful, unjustified and
illegitimate war that is a crime against the peace -- to consider doing
what I wish I had done in 1964.

That is, if they have documents indicating that the president is lying
the public into such a war, they should take those documents to the
Congress and to the press, and tell the truth -- even if it costs them
their clearance, their job, their career, even if puts them in prison.

You have remained an activist for the 30 years since you revealed the
Pentagon Papers. Do you ever feel like just giving up?

Where there's life, there's hope. For instance, if the bombing stops,
there's a small chance of avoiding an invasion. If an invasion starts,
there's still a chance of avoiding nuclear weapons. And if nuclear
weapons happen, what then? Well, I will feel like dying, but I will also
pick myself up and say, well, let's make what we can to avoid it
happening next. There really is always the next time. We're not facing
the world blowing up as we did during the Cold War. It will take a
miracle to stop this war, but not more of a miracle than South Africa
having a peaceful transition, not more of a miracle than the Berlin Wall
coming down and East Europe being liberated.

-- panchmaster
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