[Howard Zinn raw #29: Daniel Ellsberg speaks about his life and it was influenced by Zinn]

Daniel Ellsberg discusses the Pentagon Papers, the anti-war movement, and Howard Zinn.

0:03Copy video clip URL Daniel Ellsberg sits at his desk, looking through papers (no sound until 1:04).

2:45Copy video clip URL Ellsberg speaks on his military service (during the Korean War and the Suez Crisis) and his experiences as a civilian working in the Pentagon for the Rand Corporation, Defense Department, and State Department. He says just being in Vietnam and seeing the hopelessness of the situation there was a large influence on his decision to try to end the war. He says as he researched the war and learned its history, it became increasingly clear that the war was wrong. He speaks about joining with anti-war activists and how working alongside draft resisters opened his eyes to the possibilities of what he could contribute to efforts to end the war. “And that made me think of the fact that I had in my safe at the Rand Corporation, my own top secret safe, seven thousand pages of documentary history and documents of lies and broken treaties and aggression by the United States and I knew that history was continuing. My real objective was not just to set the record straight or to enlighten people about the past. I was trying to change the present and the future.”

9:55Copy video clip URL Daniel Ellsberg recounts President Nixon’s campaign of intimidation against him. He says that Nixon’s actions against the anti-war movement made him vulnerable to impeachment. He talks about his relationship with Howard Zinn that grew through mutual participation in the anti-war movement.

13:52Copy video clip URL Ellsberg says that citizens should recognize the need to take major risks to fight unjust policies. “Telling the truth, a truth that the president doesn’t want told, can be very powerful. You have the chance, if you know a truth that politicians are trying to conceal, you have the chance, just by telling it effectively, to save a great many lives, and that’s a power you don’t have every day.

15:53Copy video clip URL Ellsberg speaks on the opportunities and difficulties in pushing for reform and critique from within powerful institutions. “But the seductions of keeping your dissent internal are very strong, because self-interest in a career-sense converges with the rather plausible belief that power is exerted by men in power – they’re nearly all men – and that having access to them – direct access – being listened to, being able to give them a memo, to make a suggestion by them, is surely more powerful and more valuable than anything you could do outside the government.”

19:01Copy video clip URL Ellsberg says that Zinn and Chomsky underrate the need for individuals to change and speak out from within the system. He also talks about the importance of elections and lobbying.

21:34Copy video clip URL Daniel Ellsberg talks about first meeting Zinn at a meeting to issue a people’s indictment of the FBI. He talks about the importance of Howard Zinn’s book that suggested that the United States withdraw from Vietnam. He discusses the hesitancy of those within the system to bring the documents and information they have forward.

30:51Copy video clip URL Ellsberg recounts his anti-war protests alongside Zinn in Washington, D.C. and Boston in May, 1971. He tells an anecdote about doing civil disobedience alongside Howard Zinn and the violence they faced at the hands of the Boston Police.

44:15Copy video clip URL Ellsberg tells the story of learning that the New York Times were about to release the Pentagon Papers and realizing that there was a good chance the FBI would be coming after him. He says he asked Zinn to store the Pentagon Papers and Zinn agreed; after that, they returned to Ellberg’s apartment, they smoked some marijuana and then went to watch¬†Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the movie theater. He tells the story of walking through Harvard Square with Howard Zinn, both stoned, sharing an ice cream cone.

47:24Copy video clip URL Daniel Ellsberg talks about the Pentagon Papers trial and Zinn’s testimony. He tells the story of crying during Zinn’s testimony. “It’s the most terrible thought, but it’s the one that Howard’s always raising: that things could’ve been different if we’d fought on our own ideals, our declared ideals. He talked about the Atlantic Charter, self-determination […]” Ellsberg tells an anecdote about his wife saying she wished Washington D.C. stood for what it claimed to stand for.

53:14Copy video clip URL Filmmaker Denis Mueller asks Daniel Ellsberg about the jury’s response to Zinn’s testimony. Ellsberg talks about the lesser-evil defense and says that juries usually aren’t won over by moral arguments.

58:15Copy video clip URL Daniel Ellsberg says it’s important to challenge people in authority to rise to the occasion to realize their freedom and power to act on the side of justice. He talks about Zinn’s message of hope and reality, he says he tries to give a similar message. “I tell them the odds are against them, very often, the odds are against them, it’s an uphill fight, the chance of succeeding is not large, in fact, but it does exist. And the existence of that possibility of changing matters by changing you own life is a reality, it’s a truth, it’s as true as anything else. And when people understand that, they don’t have to be given assurance, a guarantee of success, when the stakes are very great. They will take large risks in their own lives, when they realize there’s a chance of actually making a difference.”



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