Daniel Ellsberg (born April 7, 1931) is an American economist, activist and former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of the U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers.
Ellsberg in 2018
|Education||Harvard University (AB, PhD)|
King's College, Cambridge
|Known for||Pentagon Papers, |
|Spouse(s)||Carol Cummings (divorced)|
Patricia Marx (m. 1970)
|Children||Robert and Mary Ellsberg (1st marriage)|
Michael Ellsberg (2nd marriage)
|Awards||Right Livelihood Award|
On January 3, 1973, Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 along with other charges of theft and conspiracy, carrying a total maximum sentence of 115 years. Due to governmental misconduct and illegal evidence-gathering, and the defense by Leonard Boudin and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. dismissed all charges against Ellsberg on May 11, 1973.
Ellsberg was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2006. He is also known for having formulated an important example in decision theory, the Ellsberg paradox, his extensive studies on nuclear weapons and nuclear policy, and for having voiced support for WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden.
Ellsberg was awarded the 2018 Olof Palme Prize for his "profound humanism and exceptional moral courage."
Early life and career
Ellsberg was born in Chicago, Illinois on April 7, 1931, the son of Harry and Adele (Charsky) Ellsberg. His parents were Ashkenazi Jews who had converted to Christian Science, and he was raised as a Christian Scientist. He grew up in Detroit and attended the Cranbrook School in nearby Bloomfield Hills. His mother wanted him to be a concert pianist, but he stopped playing in July 1946, after both his mother and sister were killed when his father fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the family car into a culvert wall.
Ellsberg entered Harvard College on a scholarship, graduating summa cum laude with an A.B. in economics in 1952. He studied at the University of Cambridge for a year on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, then returned to Harvard for graduate school. In 1954, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and earned a commission. He served as a platoon leader and company commander in the 2nd Marine Division, and was discharged in 1957 as a first lieutenant. Ellsberg returned to Harvard as a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows for two years.
RAND Corporation and PhD
Ellsberg began working as a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation for the summer of 1958 and then permanently in 1959. He concentrated on nuclear strategy and the command and control of nuclear weapons.
Ellsberg completed a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard in 1962. His dissertation on decision theory was based on a set of thought experiments that showed that decisions under conditions of uncertainty or ambiguity generally may not be consistent with well defined subjective probabilities. Now known as the Ellsberg paradox, this formed the basis of a large literature that has developed since the 1980s, including approaches such as Choquet expected utility and info-gap decision theory.
Ellsberg worked in the Pentagon from August 1964 under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as special assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs John McNaughton. He then went to South Vietnam for two years, working for General Edward Lansdale as a member of the State Department.
On his return from South Vietnam, Ellsberg resumed working at RAND. In 1967, he contributed to a top-secret study of classified documents on the conduct of the Vietnam War that had been commissioned by Defense Secretary McNamara. These documents, completed in 1968, later became known collectively as the Pentagon Papers.
Through study of this body of US government records, Ellsberg came to understand about the Vietnam War that:
It was no more a "civil war" after 1955 or 1960 than it had been during the U.S.-supported French attempt at colonial reconquest. A war in which one side was entirely equipped and paid by a foreign power – which dictated the nature of the local regime in its own interest – was not a civil war. To say that we had "interfered" in what is "really a civil war," as most American academic writers and even liberal critics of the war do to this day, simply screened a more painful reality and was as much a myth as the earlier official one of "aggression from the North." In terms of the UN Charter and of our own avowed ideals, it was a war of foreign aggression, American aggression.
Disaffection with Vietnam War
By 1969 Ellsberg began attending anti-war events while still remaining in his position at RAND. In April, 1968 Ellsberg attended a Princeton conference on “Revolution in a Changing World,” where he met Gandhian peace activist Janaki Tschannerl from India, who had a profound influence on him, and Eqbal Ahmed, a Pakistani fellow at the Adlai Stevenson Institute later to be indicted with Rev. Philip Berrigan for anti-war activism. Ellsberg particularly recalls Tschannerl saying “In my world, there are no enemies”, and that “she gave me a vision, as a Gandhian, of a different way of living and resistance, of exercising power nonviolently."
He experienced an epiphany attending a War Resisters League conference at Haverford College in August 1969, listening to a speech given by a draft resister named Randy Kehler, who said he was "very excited" that he would soon be able to join his friends in prison.
Ellsberg described his reaction:
And he said this very calmly. I hadn't known that he was about to be sentenced for draft resistance. It hit me as a total surprise and shock, because I heard his words in the midst of actually feeling proud of my country listening to him. And then I heard he was going to prison. It wasn't what he said exactly that changed my worldview. It was the example he was setting with his life. How his words in general showed that he was a stellar American, and that he was going to jail as a very deliberate choice—because he thought it was the right thing to do. There was no question in my mind that my government was involved in an unjust war that was going to continue and get larger. Thousands of young men were dying each year. I left the auditorium and found a deserted men's room. I sat on the floor and cried for over an hour, just sobbing. The only time in my life I've reacted to something like that.
Decades later, reflecting on Kehler's decision, Ellsberg said:
Randy Kehler never thought his going to prison would end the war. If I hadn't met Randy Kehler it wouldn't have occurred to me to copy [the Pentagon Papers]. His actions spoke to me as no mere words would have done. He put the right question in my mind at the right time.
After leaving RAND, Ellsberg was employed as a senior research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for International Studies from 1970 to 1972.
The Pentagon Papers
In late 1969, with the assistance of his former RAND Corporation colleague Anthony Russo, Ellsberg secretly made several sets of photocopies of the classified documents to which he had access; these later became known as the Pentagon Papers. They revealed that, early on, the government had knowledge that the war as then resourced could most likely not be won. Further, as an editor of The New York Times was to write much later, these documents "demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance".
Shortly after Ellsberg copied the documents, he resolved to meet some of the people who had influenced both his change of heart on the war and his decision to act. One of them was Randy Kehler. Another was the poet Gary Snyder, whom he had met in Kyoto in 1960, and with whom he had argued about U.S. foreign policy; Ellsberg was finally prepared to concede that Gary Snyder had been right, about both the situation and the need for action against it.
Release and publication
Throughout 1970, Ellsberg covertly attempted to persuade a few sympathetic U.S. Senators—among them J. William Fulbright, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and George McGovern, a leading opponent of the war—to release the papers on the Senate floor, because a Senator could not be prosecuted for anything he said on the record before the Senate.
Ellsberg allowed some copies of the documents to circulate privately, including among scholars at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). Ellsberg also shared the documents with The New York Times correspondent Neil Sheehan, who wrote a story based on what he had received both directly from Ellsberg and from contacts at IPS.
On Sunday, June 13, 1971, the Times published the first of nine excerpts from, and commentaries on, the 7,000 page collection. For 15 days, the Times was prevented from publishing its articles by court order requested by the Nixon administration. Meanwhile, while eluding an FBI manhunt for thirteen days, Ellsberg leaked the documents to The Washington Post. On June 30, the US Supreme Court ordered free resumption of publication by the Times (New York Times Co. v. United States). Two days prior to the Supreme Court's decision, Ellsberg publicly admitted his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers to the press.
On June 29, 1971, U.S. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska entered 4,100 pages of the Papers into the record of his Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds—pages which he had received from Ellsberg via Ben Bagdikian, then an editor at the Washington Post.
The release of these papers was politically embarrassing not only to those involved in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, but also to the incumbent Nixon administration. Nixon's Oval Office tape from June 14, 1971, shows H. R. Haldeman describing the situation to Nixon:
- Rumsfeld was making this point this morning... To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing.... You can't trust the government; you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment; and the – the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this, because It shows that people do things the president wants to do even though it's wrong, and the president can be wrong.
John Mitchell, Nixon's Attorney General, almost immediately issued a telegram to the Times ordering that it halt publication. The Times refused, and the government brought suit against it.
Although the Times eventually won the case before the Supreme Court, prior to that, an appellate court ordered that the Times temporarily halt further publication. This was the first time the federal government was able to restrain the publication of a major newspaper since the presidency of Abraham Lincoln during the U.S. Civil War. Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers to seventeen other newspapers in rapid succession. The right of the press to publish the papers was upheld in New York Times Co. v. United States. The Supreme Court ruling has been called one of the "modern pillars" of First Amendment rights with respect to freedom of the press.
In response to the leaks, Nixon White House staffers began a campaign against further leaks and against Ellsberg personally. Aides Egil Krogh and David Young, under the supervision of John Ehrlichman, created the "White House Plumbers", which would later lead to the Watergate burglaries. Richard Holbrooke, a friend of Ellsberg, came to see him as "one of those accidental characters of history who show the pattern of a whole era" and thought that he was the "triggering mechanism for events which would link Vietnam and Watergate in one continuous 1961-to-1975 story."
In August 1971, Krogh and Young met with G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt in a basement office in the Old Executive Office Building. Hunt and Liddy recommended a "covert operation" to get a "mother lode" of information about Ellsberg's mental state in order to discredit him. Krogh and Young sent a memo to Ehrlichman seeking his approval for a "covert operation [to] be undertaken to examine all of the medical files still held by Ellsberg's psychiatrist", Lewis Fielding. Ehrlichman approved under the condition that it be "done under your assurance that it is not traceable."
On September 3, 1971, the burglary of Fielding's office—titled "Hunt/Liddy Special Project No. 1" in Ehrlichman's notes—was carried out by White House Plumbers Hunt, Liddy, Eugenio Martínez, Felipe de Diego and Bernard Barker (the latter three were, or had been, recruited CIA agents). The Plumbers found Ellsberg's file, but it apparently did not contain the potentially embarrassing information they sought, as they left it discarded on the floor of Fielding's office. Hunt and Liddy subsequently planned to break into Fielding's home, but Ehrlichman did not approve the second burglary. The break-in was not known to Ellsberg or to the public until it came to light during Ellsberg and Russo's trial in April 1973.
Trial and dismissal
On June 28, 1971, two days before a Supreme Court ruling saying that a federal judge had ruled incorrectly about the right of The New York Times to publish the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg publicly surrendered to the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts in Boston. In admitting to giving the documents to the press, Ellsberg said:
- I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.
He and Russo faced charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 and other charges including theft and conspiracy, carrying a total maximum sentence of 115 years for Ellsberg, 35 years for Russo. Their trial commenced in Los Angeles on January 3, 1973, presided over by U.S. District Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. Ellsberg tried to claim that the documents were illegally classified to keep them not from an enemy but from the American public. However, that argument was ruled "irrelevant". Ellsberg was silenced before he could begin. Ellsberg said, in 2014, that his "lawyer, exasperated, said he 'had never heard of a case where a defendant was not permitted to tell the jury why he did what he did.' The judge responded: 'Well, you're hearing one now'. And so it has been with every subsequent whistleblower under indictment".
In spite of being effectively denied a defense, Ellsberg began to see events turn in his favor when the break-in of Fielding's office was revealed to Judge Byrne in a memo on April 26; Byrne ordered it to be shared with the defense.
On May 9, further evidence of illegal wiretapping against Ellsberg was revealed in court. The FBI had recorded numerous conversations between Morton Halperin and Ellsberg without a court order, and furthermore the prosecution had failed to share this evidence with the defense. During the trial, Byrne also revealed that he personally met twice with John Ehrlichman, who offered him directorship of the FBI. Byrne said he refused to consider the offer while the Ellsberg case was pending, though he was criticized for even agreeing to meet with Ehrlichman during the case.
Due to the gross governmental misconduct and illegal evidence gathering, and the defense by Leonard Boudin and Harvard Law School professor Charles Nesson, Judge Byrne dismissed all charges against Ellsberg and Russo on May 11, 1973 after the government claimed it had lost records of wiretapping against Ellsberg. Byrne ruled: "The totality of the circumstances of this case which I have only briefly sketched offend a sense of justice. The bizarre events have incurably infected the prosecution of this case."
As a result of the revelations involving the Watergate scandal, John Ehrlichman, H. R. Haldeman, Richard Kleindienst, and John Dean were forced out of office on April 30, and all would later be convicted of crimes related to Watergate. Egil Krogh later pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and White House counsel Charles Colson pleaded no contest for obstruction of justice in the burglary.
It was also revealed in 1973, during Ellsberg's trial, that the telephone calls of Morton Halperin, a member of the U.S. National Security Council staff suspected of leaking information about the secret bombing of Cambodia to The New York Times, were being recorded by the FBI at the request of Henry Kissinger to J. Edgar Hoover.
Halperin and his family sued several federal officials, claiming the wiretap violated their Fourth Amendment rights and Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. The court agreed that Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, and H. R. Haldeman had violated the Halperins' Fourth Amendment rights and awarded them $1 in nominal damages.
Plumbers' Ellsberg neutralization proposal
Ellsberg later claimed that after his trial ended, Watergate prosecutor William H. Merrill informed him of an aborted plot by Liddy and the "Plumbers" to have 12 Cuban Americans who had previously worked for the CIA "totally incapacitate" Ellsberg when he appeared at a public rally. It is unclear whether they were meant to assassinate Ellsberg or merely to hospitalize him. In his autobiography, Liddy describes an "Ellsberg neutralization proposal" originating from Howard Hunt, which involved drugging Ellsberg with LSD, by dissolving it in his soup, at a fund-raising dinner in Washington in order to "have Ellsberg incoherent by the time he was to speak" and thus "make him appear a near burnt-out drug case" and "discredit him." The plot involved waiters from the Miami Cuban community. According to Liddy, when the plan was finally approved, "there was no longer enough lead time to get the Cuban waiters up from their Miami hotels and into place in the Washington Hotel where the dinner was to take place" and the plan was "put into abeyance pending another opportunity."
Later activism and views
Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has continued his political activism, giving lecture tours and speaking out about current events. Reflecting on his time in government, Ellsberg has said the following, based on his extensive access to classified material:
- The public is lied to every day by the President, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can't handle the thought that the President lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn't stay in the government at that level, or you're made aware of it, a week. ... The fact is Presidents rarely say the whole truth—essentially, never say the whole truth—of what they expect and what they're doing and what they believe and why they're doing it and rarely refrain from lying, actually, about these matters.
In an interview with Democracy Now on May 18, 2018, Ellsberg was critical of U.S. intervention overseas especially in the Middle East, stating, "I think, in Iraq, America has never faced up to the number of people who have died because of our invasion, our aggression against Iraq, and Afghanistan over the last 30 years, since we first inspired a CIA-sponsored jihad against the Soviets there, and led to the invasion by the Soviets. What we've done to the Middle East has been hell."
Activism against US-led war against Iraq
During the runup to the 2003 invasion of Iraq he warned of a possible "Tonkin Gulf scenario" that could be used to justify going to war, and called on government "insiders" to go public with information to counter the Bush administration's pro-war propaganda campaign, praising Scott Ritter for his efforts in that regard. He later supported the whistleblowing efforts of British GCHQ translator Katharine Gun and called on others to leak any papers that reveal government deception about the invasion. Ellsberg also testified at the 2004 conscientious objector hearing of Camilo Mejia at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Ellsberg was arrested, in November 2005, for violating a county ordinance for trespassing while protesting against George W. Bush's conduct of the Iraq War.
He is a member of Campaign for Peace and Democracy.
Ellsberg criticized the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who had exposed American war crimes in Iraq.
Activism against US military action against Iran
In September 2006, Ellsberg wrote in Harper's Magazine that he hoped someone would leak information about a potential U.S. invasion of Iran before the invasion happened, to stop the war. Ellsberg called for further leaks following the release of information on the acceleration of U.S.-sponsored anti-government activity in Iran that was leaked to journalist Seymour Hersh. In November 2007, Ellsberg was interviewed by Brad Friedman on his blog in regard to former FBI translator turned whistle blower Sibel Edmonds. "I'd say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers", Ellsberg told Friedman.
In a speech on March 30, 2008 in San Francisco's Unitarian Universalist church, Ellsberg observed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't really have the authority to declare impeachment "off the table". The oath of office taken by members of congress requires them to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". He also argued that under the U.S. Constitution, treaties, including the United Nations Charter, become the supreme law of the land that neither the states, the president, nor the congress have the power to break. For example, if the Congress votes to authorize an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation, that authorization wouldn't make the attack legal. A president citing the authorization as just cause could be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
Support for American whistleblowers
On December 9, 2010, Ellsberg appeared on The Colbert Report where he commented that the existence of WikiLeaks helps to build a better government.
On March 21, 2011, Ellsberg, along with 35 other demonstrators, was arrested during a demonstration outside the Marine Corps Base Quantico, in protest of Manning's current detention at Marine Corps Brig, Quantico.
On June 10, 2013, Ellsberg published an editorial in The Guardian newspaper praising the actions of former Booz Allen worker Edward Snowden in revealing top-secret surveillance programs of the NSA. Ellsberg believes that the United States has fallen into an "abyss" of total tyranny, but said that because of Snowden's revelations, "I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss."
In June 2013, Ellsberg and numerous celebrities appeared in a video showing support for Chelsea Manning.
On June 17, 2010, Ellsberg was interviewed regarding the parallels between his actions in releasing the Pentagon Papers and those of Private First Class Chelsea Manning, who was arrested by the U.S. military in Iraq after allegedly providing to WikiLeaks a classified video showing U.S. military helicopter gunships strafing and killing Iraqis alleged to be civilians, including two Reuters journalists. Manning claimed to have provided WikiLeaks with secret videos of additional massacres of alleged civilians in Afghanistan, as well as 260,000 classified State Department cables. Ellsberg said that he fears for Manning and for Julian Assange, as he feared for himself after the initial publication of the Pentagon Papers. WikiLeaks initially said it had not received the cables, but did plan to post the video of an attack that killed 86 to 145 Afghan civilians in the village of Garani. Ellsberg expressed hope that either Assange or President Obama would post the video, and expressed his strong support for Assange and Manning, whom he called "two new heroes of mine".
Democracy Now! devoted a substantial portion of its program July 4, 2013, to "How the Pentagon Papers Came to be Published By the Beacon Press Told by Daniel Ellsberg & Others." Ellsberg said there are hundreds of public officials right now who know that the public is being lied to about Iran. They all took an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States, not the commander-in-chief, not superior officers. If they follow orders, they may become complicit in starting an unnecessary war. If they are faithful to their oath, they could prevent that war. Exposing official lies could however carry a heavy personal cost as they could be imprisoned for unlawful disclosure of classified information.
In 2012, Ellsberg became one of the co-founders of the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Ellsberg is a founding member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. In September 2015 Ellsberg and 27 other members of VIPS steering group wrote a letter to the President challenging a recently published book, that claimed to rebut the report of the United States Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency's use of torture.
In December 2015, Ellsberg publicly supported the Tor anonymity network, referencing its utility for whistle blowing in general for the maintenance of democracy via the First Amendment.
In spring of 2019, WikiLeaks players Assange and Manning resurfaced in the news - with Assange being arrested and carried out from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and Manning twice subpoenaed to testify. Weeks later, Assange was indicted on 18 charges under the 1917 wartime Espionage Act. Ellsberg has spoken out vociferously against the threats to press freedom from such whistleblower prosecution.
Support for Occupy Movement
On November 16, 2011 Ellsberg camped on the UC Berkeley Sproul Plaza as part of an effort to support the Occupy Cal movement.
The Doomsday Machine
In December 2017, Ellsberg published The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. He said that his primary job from 1958 until releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971 was as a nuclear war planner for US Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. He concluded that US nuclear war policy was completely crazy and he could no longer live with himself without doing what he could to expose it, even if it meant he would spend the rest of his life in prison. However, he also felt that as long as the US was still involved in the Vietnam War, the US electorate would not likely listen to a discussion of nuclear war policy. He therefore copied two sets of documents, planning to release first the Pentagon Papers and later documentation of nuclear war plans. However, the nuclear planning materials were hidden in a landfill and then lost during an unexpected tropical storm.
His overriding concerns are as follows:
- As long as the world maintains large nuclear arsenals, it is not a matter of if, but when, a nuclear war will occur.
- The vast majority of the population of an initiator state would likely starve to death during a “nuclear autumn” or “nuclear winter” if they did not die earlier from retaliation or fallout. If the nuclear war dropped only roughly 100 nuclear weapons on cities, as in a war between India and Pakistan, the effect would be similar to the "Year Without a Summer" that followed the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora, except that it would last more like a decade, because soot would not settle out of the stratosphere as quickly as the volcanic debris, and roughly a third of the people worldwide not killed by the nuclear exchange would starve to death, because of the resulting crop failures. However, if more than roughly 2 percent of the US nuclear arsenal were used, the results would more likely be a nuclear winter, leading to the deaths from starvation of 98 percent of people worldwide not killed by the nuclear exchange.
- To preserve the ability of a nuclear-weapon state to retaliate from a “decapitation” attack, every country with nuclear weapons seems to have delegated broadly the authority to respond to an apparent nuclear attack.
As an example of the third concern, Ellsberg discussed an interview he had in 1958 with a major, who commanded a squadron of 12 F-100 fighter-bombers at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. His aircraft were equipped with Mark 28 thermonuclear weapons with a yield of 1.1 megatons each, roughly half the explosive power of all the bombs dropped by the US in World War II both in Europe and the Pacific. The major said his official orders were to wait for orders from his superiors in Osan Air Base, South Korea, or in Japan before ordering his F-100s into the air. However, the major also said that standard military doctrine required him to protect his forces. That meant that if he had reason to believe that a war had already begun when his communications with Osan and Japan were broken, he was required to launch his dozen F-100s with their thermonuclear weapons. They never practiced that launch, because the risk of an accident was too great. Ellsberg then asked what might happen if he gave such launch orders and the sixth plane succumbed to a thermonuclear accident on the runway. After some thought, the major agreed that the five planes already in the air would likely conclude that a nuclear war had begun, and they would likely deliver their warheads to their preassigned targets.
The “nuclear football” carried by an aide near the US President at all times is primarily a piece of political theater, a hoax, to keep the public ignorant of the real problems of nuclear command and control, he said.
In Russia, this included a semi-automatic “Dead Hand” system, whereby a nuclear explosion in Moscow, whether accidental or by a foreign state or terrorists, would induce low-level officers to launch ICBMs toward targets in the US, presumed to be the origin of such attacks. The first ICBMs launched in this way “would beep a Go signal to any ICBM sites they passed over”, which would launch those other ICBMs without further human intervention.
He also claimed that every president since Truman, with the possible exception of Ford, threatened the use of nuclear weapons. Some of these threats were implicit; many were explicit. Many governmental officials and authors claimed that those threats made major contributions to achieving important policy objectives. Ellsberg's examples are summarized in the following table:
|Truman (1945-53)||USSR||Berlin Blockade (24 June 1948 – 12 May 1949).|
|China (PRC)||Chinese intervention in the Korean War (October 1950).|
|Eisenhower (1953-61)||China (PRC)||Korean War, and Taiwan Strait crises of 1954-55 and 1958.|
|Vietnamese communists||US offers nuclear support to the French at Dien Bien Phu.|
|Soviet Union||1956 Suez Crisis and the 1958-59 Berlin crisis.|
|Iraq||to deter an invasion of Kuwait during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis.|
|Kennedy (1961-63)||Soviet Union||Berlin Crisis of 1961 and 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.|
|Johnson (1963-1969)||North Vietnam||Battle of Khe Sanh, Vietnam, 1968.|
|Nixon (1969-1974)||Soviet Union||to deter an attack on Chinese nuclear capability, 1969-70, or a Soviet response to possible Chinese intervention against India in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, or an intervention in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.|
|North Vietnam||Secret threats of massive escalation of the Vietnam War, including possible use of nuclear weapons, 1969-1972.|
|India||Indo-Pakistan War of 1971|
|Ford (1974-77)||North Korea||Korean axe murder incident, in which two US army officers were killed while trying to trim a tree blocking open observation of the Demilitarized Zone. Two days later, the tree was cut to a stump 6 meters tall in a massive show of force that included a B-52 nuclear-capable bomber flying straight toward Pyongyang escorted by high performance fighter aircraft, while a US aircraft carrier task force moved into station just offshore. Ellsberg noted that it might be more accurate to classify this incident not as “nuclear threat” but a “show of force”.|
|Carter (1977-81)||Soviet Union||The Carter Doctrine on the Middle East to deter the Soviets, already in Afghanistan, from moving next door into Iran to try to control the Persian Gulf, through which the majority of the world's oil flowed at that time.|
|GHW Bush (1989-1993)||Iraq||Operation Desert Storm.|
|Clinton (1993-2001)||North Korea||secret threats in 1995 on its nuclear reactor program..|
|Libya||Public warning of a nuclear option against Libya's underground chemical weapons facility in 1996.|
|GW Bush (2001-2009) and all presidents and leading candidates since||Iran||Threats of a nuclear attack against Iran's nuclear program.|
Awards and honors
Ellsberg is the recipient of the Inaugural Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize, a prize established by The Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation. In 1978 he accepted the Gandhi Peace Award from Promoting Enduring Peace. On September 28, 2006 he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. He received the Dresden Peace Prize in 2016. He received the Olof Palme Prize in 2018.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has acquired the papers of Daniel Ellsberg.
Ellsberg has been married twice. His first marriage was to Carol Cummings, a graduate of Radcliffe (now Harvard College) whose father was a Marine Corps brigadier general. It lasted 13 years before ending in divorce (at her request, as he stated in his memoir Secrets). They have two children, Robert Ellsberg and Mary Ellsberg. In 1970, he married Patricia Marx, daughter of toy maker Louis Marx. They lived for some time afterward in Mill Valley, California. They are the parents of a son, Michael Ellsberg, who is an author and journalist.
- Ellsberg, Daniel (2002). Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers. New York: Viking Press. ISBN 0670030309
- Ellsberg, Daniel (2001). Risk, Ambiguity, and Decision. ISBN 978-0815340225.
- Ann Wright, Susan Dixon (2008). Dissent: Voices of Conscience, Foreword by Daniel Ellsberg. Hawaii: Koa Books. ISBN 978-0977333844
- Gerstein, Marc S.; Ellsberg, Michael (2008). Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents are Rarely Accidental. Sterling Publishing. ISBN 9781402753039.
- Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State By Norman Solomon, Foreword by Daniel Ellsberg, September 2007 – Publisher: Polipoint Press
- E. P. Thompson, Dan Smith (ed.) (1981). Protest and Survive, Introduction by Daniel Ellsberg. New York: Monthly Review Press. ISBN 978-0853455820
- Steve Sheinkin (2015). Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War. New York: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 978-1596439528.
- Ellsberg, Daniel (2017). The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1608196708. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
- The Pentagon Papers (2003) is a historical film directed by Rod Holcomb about the Pentagon Papers and Daniel Ellsberg's involvement in their publication. The movie, in which he is portrayed by James Spader, documents Ellsberg's life, starting with his work for RAND Corp and ending with the day on which the judge declared his espionage trial a mistrial.
- The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009) a feature-length documentary by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith traced the decision-making processes by which Ellsberg came to leak the Pentagon Papers to the press, The New York Times decision to publish, the fallout in the media after publication, and the Nixon Administration's legal and extra-legal campaign to discredit and incarcerate Ellsberg. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and won a Peabody Award after its 2010 POV broadcast on PBS.
- Hearts and Minds, a 1974 documentary film about the Vietnam War with extensive interviews with Ellsberg.
- The Post is a historical drama film directed and co-produced by Steven Spielberg from a script written by Liz Hannah and Josh Singer about a pair of Washington Post employees who battle the federal government over their right to publish the Pentagon Papers. In the movie, Ellsberg is portrayed by Matthew Rhys. The film also stars Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee and Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham.
- "2018 – Daniel Ellsberg | OLOF PALMES MINNESFOND" (in Swedish). Retrieved January 9, 2019.
- Wells, Tom (June 9, 2001). Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg. Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 36, 39, 70–95, 267. ISBN 9780312177195 – via Google Books.
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- For more on this, see especially Daniel Ellsberg (1981), "Call to Mutiny", Protest and Survive, Wikidata Q63874626; Barry Blechman; Stephen Kaplan (1978), Force without War: U.S. Armed forces as a political instrument, Brookings Institution Press, Wikidata Q63874634; Joseph Gerson (2007), Empire and the bomb: How the U.S. uses nuclear weapons to dominate the world, Pluto Press, Wikidata Q63874641; Konrad Ege (July 1982), "U.S. Nuclear Threats: A documentary history", CounterSpy, Wikidata Q63874649; Richard K. Betts (1987), Nuclear Blackmail and Nuclear Balance, Brookings Institution Press, Wikidata Q63874665, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, especially the second-to-last chapter.
- At the outset of this incident, Truman deployed “atomic capable” B-29s, similar to those that dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to bases in Britain and Germany to deter the Soviet Union from officially transferring to East Germany control of the land corridor to Berlin, an explicit part of the Soviet plan. Gregg Herken (1980), The winning weapon: The atomic bomb in the cold war, 1945-1950, Knopf, Wikidata Q63873810, pp. 256-274, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 319, 378.
- Truman's press conference warning that atomic weapons were under active consideration for Korea, November 30, 1950, after China entered the war. Charles Pierson (September 8, 2017), "The Atomic Bomb and the First Korean War", CounterPunch, Wikidata Q63874136
- For Eisenhower's secret nuclear threats against China to force and maintain a settlement in Korea in 1953, see Dwight D. Eisenhower (1963), Mandate for Change: The White House Years 1953-1956: A Personal Account, Doubleday, Wikidata Q61945939, pp. 178-181, and Alexander L. George; Richard Smoke (1974), Deterrence in American Foreign Policy, Columbia University Press, Wikidata Q63874409, pp. 237-241, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 319, 378.
- Morton Halperin (December 1966), "The 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis: A documentary history", RAND Corporation Research Memoranda (RM-4900-ISA), Wikidata Q63874609, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 378.
- Hearts and Minds (film); Roscoe Drummond; Gaston Coblentz (1960), Duel at the Brink, Doubleday, Wikidata Q63874430, pp. 121-122; see also Richard Nixon (1978), The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Grosset & Dunlap, Wikidata Q63874435, pp. 150-155; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 319, 378.
- Richard Nixon (July 29, 1985), "A nation coming into its own", Time, Wikidata Q63885038, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 379.
- Barry Blechman; Stephen Kaplan (1978), Force without War: U.S. Armed forces as a political instrument, Brookings Institution Press, Wikidata Q63874634, pp. 238, 256, cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 379.
- Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, ch. 10, “Berlin and the Missile Gap”; also Barry Blechman; Stephen Kaplan (1978), Force without War: U.S. Armed forces as a political instrument, Brookings Institution Press, Wikidata Q63874634, pp. 343-439; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 379. NOTE: On p. 176, Ellsberg mentioned "ending the Berlin Crisis in 1961". Later, on p. 321, he mentioned "the 1961-62 Berlin crisis." There is a Wikipedia article on "Berlin Crisis of 1961". I therefore decided to ignore the reference to 1962 in this context, as I have not seen other references to Berlin crisis in 1962 and mentioning it would produce an apparent conflict with the title of the existing Wikipedia article on that.
- Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, ch. 12. “My Cuban Missile Crisis” and ch. 13. “Cuba: The real story”.
- Herbert Y. Schandler (1977), The Unmaking of a President, Princeton University Press, Wikidata Q63887635, pp. 89-91; also William Westmoreland (1976), A Soldier Reports, Doubleday, Wikidata Q63888313, p. 338; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 379.
- Harry Robbins Haldeman (1978), The Ends of Power, Times Books, Wikidata Q63888819, pp. 81-85, 97-98; Richard Nixon (1978), The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, Grosset & Dunlap, Wikidata Q63874435, pp. 393-414; Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, Wikidata Q42194571; Ernest C. Bolt (January 2002), "No Peace, No Honor: Nixon, Kissinger, and Betrayal in Vietnam", History: Reviews of New Books, 30 (3): 93–93, doi:10.1080/03612759.2002.10526085, Wikidata Q58522397; John A. Farrell (2017), Richard Nixon: The Life, Doubleday, Wikidata Q63889289; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 320, 379.
- Robert S. Norris; Hans M. Kristensen (September 1, 2006), "U.S. nuclear threats: Then and now", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 62 (5): 69–71, doi:10.2968/062005016, Wikidata Q62111338; John K. Singlaub (1991), Hazardous Duty: An American soldier in the twentieth century, Summit Books, Wikidata Q63892384; Richard A. Mobley (June 22, 2003), "Revisiting the Korean Tree-Trimming Incident", Joint Force Quarterly, Wikidata Q63893129, pp. 110-111, 113-114; consistent with Barry Blechman; Stephen Kaplan (1978), Force without War: U.S. Armed forces as a political instrument, Brookings Institution Press, Wikidata Q63874634; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 321, 379.
- This event was virtually unknown at the time outside secret government circles. It was discussed six years later by Benjamin F. Schemmer (September 1, 1986), "Was the US ready to resort to nuclear weapons for the Persian Gulf in 1980?", Armed Forces Journal International, Wikidata Q63917293 and picked up by Richard Halloran (September 2, 1986), "Washington Talk; How leaders think the unthinkable", The New York Times, Wikidata Q63916660. It was described by Carter's Press Secretary Jody Powell as “the most serious nuclear crisis since the Cuban Missile Crisis.” See also Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 321, 380.
- Robert S. Norris; Hans M. Kristensen (September 1, 2006), "U.S. nuclear threats: Then and now", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 62 (5): 69–71, doi:10.2968/062005016, Wikidata Q62111338, p. 71; William Arkin (October 16, 1996), "Calculated Ambiguity: Nuclear weapons and the Gulf War", The Washington Quarterly, 19 (4): 2–18, Wikidata Q63919049; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 321, 380.
- Robert S. Norris; Hans M. Kristensen (September 1, 2006), "U.S. nuclear threats: Then and now", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 62 (5): 69–71, doi:10.2968/062005016, Wikidata Q62111338, p. 70, citing testimony by General Eugene E. Habiger before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, March 13, 1977; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 321, 380.
- Robert S. Norris; Hans M. Kristensen (September 1, 2006), "U.S. nuclear threats: Then and now", Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 62 (5): 69–71, doi:10.2968/062005016, Wikidata Q62111338, citing Robert Burns (May 1, 1996), "Nuclear weapons only option for USA to hit buried targets", Jane's Defence Weekly, Wikidata Q63919240; cited from Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 322, 380.
- Daniel Ellsberg (2017), The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Bloomsbury Publishing, Wikidata Q63862699, pp. 327-332, 380-381
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