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Doomsday ex Machina: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Gang

Doomsday ex Machina: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Gang

Photograph by Nathaniel St. Clair

You hide in your mansion
While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud

You’ve thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world

– Bob Dylan, “Masters of War” (1963)

October 15, 1969.

That’s the day the world might have ended, had Madman Richard Nixon had his druthers.

In his recent book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Daniel Ellsberg paints a doom and boom picture of the future, unless we immediately engage in negotiations with other nuclear armed nations to strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and begin the dismantling of the Doomsday Machine that is programmed to destroy as much life as possible on the planet once global nuclear war begins — a perilously close possibility under the current postures and protocols of nuclear-armed governments. (Even as late as last week, NATO rejected a UN call for the elimination of these omnicidal weapons.)

In the above example, Richard Nixon was inspired by Dwight D. Eisenhower’s strong arming tactics in securing an armistice in Korea. Citing Nixon Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, Ellsberg writes,

Nixon “saw a parallel in the action President Eisenhower had taken to end another war. When Eisenhower arrived in the White House, the Korean War was stalemated. Eisenhower ended the impasse in a hurry. He secretly got word to the Chinese that he would drop nuclear bombs on North Korea unless a truce was signed immediately. In a few weeks, the Chinese called for a truce and the Korean War ended.”

Like Ike, Nixon knew that there was no point in bluffing; your future credibility was on the line. Diminished credibility, if you’re a super power, could be a dangerous thing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine

The Truth-Teller: From the Pentagon Papers to the Doomsday Machine 

The growth of the military-industrial complex poses an existential threat to humanity. Daniel Ellsberg, peace activist and Vietnam War whistleblower discusses with Tellus Senior Fellow Allen White the continuing existential threat posed by the military-industrial complex—and what needs to be done about it.

You became a pivotal figure in the anti-Vietnam War movement when you released the Pentagon Papers, a large batch of classified documents that revealed a quarter century of official deception and aggression. What inspired you to take such a risky action?

After graduating from Harvard with an economics degree and completing service in the US Marines, I worked as a military analyst at the RAND Corporation. In 1961, in that role, I went to Vietnam as part of a Department of Defense task force and saw that our prospects there were extremely dim. It was clear to me that military intervention was a losing proposition.

Three years later, I moved from RAND to the Department of Defense. On my first day, I was assigned to a team tasked with devising a response to the alleged attack on the US naval warship USS Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin by the North Vietnamese. This completely fabricated incident became the excuse for bombing North Vietnam, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had wanted to do for some months.

That night, I saw President Lyndon Johnson and my boss, Secretary McNamara, knowingly lie to the public that North Vietnam had without provocation attacked the US ship. In fact, the US had covertly attacked North Vietnam the night before and on previous nights. Johnson and McNamara’s claim that the US did not seek to widen the war was the exact opposite of reality. In short, the Gulf of Tonkin crisis was based on lies. I was not yet moved to leave government, though I had come to view US military action as ineffective, illegitimate, and deadly, without rationale or endgame.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Cascading Cat Litter

Cascading Cat Litter


And so now Julian Assange of Wikileaks has been dragged out of his sanctuary in the London embassy of Ecuador for failing to clean his cat’s litter box. Have you ever cleaned a litter box? The way we always did it was to spread some newspaper — say, The New York Times — on the floor, transfer the used cat litter onto it, wrap it into a compact package, and put it in the trash.

It was interesting to scan the Comments section of The Times’s stories about the Assange arrest: Times readers uniformly presented themselves as a lynch mob out for Mr. Assange’s blood. So much for the spirit of liberalism and The Old Gray Lady who had published The Pentagon Papers purloined by Daniel Ellsberg lo so many years ago. Reading between the lines in that once-venerable newspaper — by which I mean gleaning their slant on the news — one surmises that The Times has actually come out against freedom of the press, a curious attitude, but consistent with the neo-Jacobin zeitgeist in “blue” America these days.

Anyway, how could anyone expect Mr. Assange to clean his cat’s litter box when he was unable to go outside his sanctuary to buy a fresh bag of litter, and was denied newspapers this past year, as well as any other contact with the outside world?

US government prosecutors had better tread lightly in bringing Mr. Assange to the sort of justice demanded by readers of The New York Times — which is to say: lock him up in some SuperMax solitary hellhole and throw away the key. The show trial of Julian Assange on US soil, when it comes to pass, may end up being the straw that stirs America’s Mickey Finn as a legitimate republic.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

“From a technical point of view, he (Stanley Kubrick) anticipated many things. … Since that time, little has changed, honestly. The only difference is that modern weapons systems have become more sophisticated, more complex. But this idea of a retaliatory strike and the inability to manage these systems, yes, all of these things are relevant today. It (controlling the systems) will become even more difficult and more dangerous.” (Emphasis, jw)

Vladimir Putin commenting on the film, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in an interview with Oliver Stone, May 11, 2016. Putin had not seen the movie and did not know of it before Stone showed it to him.

The Doomsday Machinethe title of Daniel Ellsberg’s superb book is not simply an imaginary contraption from a movie masterpiece. A Doomsday Machine uncannily like the one described in Dr. Strangeloveexists right now. In fact, there are two such machines, one in US hands and one in Russia’s. The US seeks to hide its version, but Ellsberg has revealed that it has existed since the 1950s. Russia has quietly admitted that it has one, named it formally, “Perimetr,” and also tagged it with a frighteningly apt nickname “Dead Hand.” Because the US and Russia are the only nations with Doomsday Machines to date we shall restrict this discussion to them. 

The Doomsday Machine was published just a little more than a year ago, but its terrifying message has failed to provoke action. And Daniel Ellsberg is a man who knows whereof he speaks; the subtitle of the book is “Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” which is how Ellsberg spent the early part of his career. What follows on this first anniversary of the book’s publication is a brief restatement of the main argument of the book and then a summary of Ellsberg’s plan of action.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

Dismantling the Doomsday Machines

“From a technical point of view, he (Stanley Kubrick) anticipated many things. … Since that time, little has changed, honestly. The only difference is that modern weapons systems have become more sophisticated, more complex. But this idea of a retaliatory strike and the inability to manage these systems, yes, all of these things are relevant today. It (controlling the systems) will become even more difficult and more dangerous.” (Emphasis, jw)

Vladimir Putin commenting on the film, Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, in an interview with Oliver Stone, May 11, 2016. Putin had not seen the movie and did not know of it before Stone showed it to him.

The Doomsday Machine, the title of Daniel Ellsberg’s superb book is not simply an imaginary contraption from a movie masterpiece. A Doomsday Machine uncannily like the one described in Dr. Strangeloveexists right now. In fact, there are two such machines, one in US hands and one in Russia’s. The US seeks to hide its version, but Ellsberg has revealed that it has existed since the 1950s. Russia has quietly admitted that it has one, named it formally, “Perimetr,” and also tagged it with a frighteningly apt nickname “Dead Hand.” Because the US and Russia are the only nations with Doomsday Machines to date we shall restrict this discussion to them.

The Doomsday Machine was published just a little more than a year ago, but its terrifying message has failed to provoke action. And Daniel Ellsberg is a man who knows whereof he speaks; the subtitle of the book is “Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” which is how Ellsberg spent the early part of his career. What follows on this first anniversary of the book’s publication is a brief restatement of the main argument of the book and then a summary of Ellsberg’s plan of action.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Ellsberg Says Assange, as a Journalist, Can’t Be Tried Under Espionage Act

Ellsberg Says Assange, as a Journalist, Can’t Be Tried Under Espionage Act

In an interview with Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says the Espionage Act, under which he was indicted, cannot apply to Julian Assange because he is a journalist. 

Speaking during an online vigil for Assange organized by Unity4J.com, Ellsberg told Lauria that the motive for U.S. leaders to protect their secrets and go after Assange has nothing to do with their mantra of “national security.”

“The purpose is not to protect national security, but to protect the asses of the people who wrote the directives” of classified material, most of which should never have been classified, Ellsberg said.

Ellsberg, 87, said that as a publisher and journalist, the Espionage Act cannot be applied to Assange, as it should not have been applied to Ellsberg for non-spying activities when he released the Pentagon Papers revealing that the U.S. government long knew it was losing the Vietnam War but continued lying to the American public.

“Julian is not a whistle blower per se, but a facilitator of whistleblowing,” Ellsberg said, “…the point being that as a journalist, he can not fairly be tried under the Espionage Act.”

As one who only received classified material and published it, “It is essential that Julian Assange not be indicted, be convicted, or be extradited to the United States,” Ellsberg said.

You can watch the entire 38 minute and 17 second interview here:

360

An Online Vigil in Defense of Julian Assange With Daniel Ellsberg, Craig Murray, Bill Binney and Ray McGovern

An Online Vigil in Defense of Julian Assange With Daniel Ellsberg, Craig Murray, Bill Binney and Ray McGovern

Joe Lauria, editor-in-chief of Consortium News, on Saturday helped moderate a daylong chain of interviews in defense of WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange, including a discussion with Daniel Ellsberg.

 

#Unity4J online vigil was held on Saturday to defend the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief, whose sanctuary at the Ecuadorian embassy in London has turned into torturous solitary confinement.

Among the participants on Saturday were Craig Murray, a former U.K. ambassador; Nat Parry, son of Consortium New’s founder and first editor, Robert Parry; Bill Binney, former technical director at the National Security Agency, and Ray McGovern, a former CIA officer. Joe Lauria interviewed Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower and author of The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. 

The entire 11 hour and 45 minute event can be viewed here:

International media have reported that Ecuador may hand over Assange to United Kingdom authorities, with a fear that he then would be extradited to the United States. The U.K. and Ecuadorian sides are engaged in ongoing negotiations, but Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange and WikiLeaks since 2010, has acknowledged that Assange’s legal team is not part of those talks.

The fate of Assange represents a threat to human rights, asylum rights, liberty and press freedoms. The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights already have found in Assange’s favor.

#Unity4J originated from an unplanned but timely response to injustice when Assange’s internet access and visitation rights were taken away. The action has grown into a series of high-profile monthly online vigils.

A dynamic new format for the monthly online vigils was introduced on Saturday.  Conceived by organizer Suzie Dawson, the concept is described as a “daisy-chain style digital relay”—which featured more than  twenty guest appearances of 30 minutes duration each.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

To Stop War, Do What Katharine Gun Did

To Stop War, Do What Katharine Gun Did

Legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s advice to stop current and future wars is simple: do what Katharine Gun did, writes Norman Solomon.


Daniel Ellsberg has a message that managers of the warfare state don’t want people to hear.

“If you have information that bears on deception or illegality in pursuing wrongful policies or an aggressive war,” he said in a statement released last week, “don’t wait to put that out and think about it, consider acting in a timely way at whatever cost to yourself…. Do what Katharine Gun did.”

Front page of The Observer from March 3, 2003

If you don’t know what Katharine Gun did, chalk that up to the media power of the war system.

Ellsberg’s video statement went public as this month began, just before the 15th anniversary of when a British newspaper, the Observer, revealed a secret NSA memo – thanks to Katharine Gun. At the UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ, about 100 people received the same email memo from the National Security Agency on the last day of January 2003, seven weeks before the invasion of Iraq got underway. Only Katharine Gun, at great personal risk, decided to leak the document.

If more people had taken such risks in early 2003, the Iraq War might have been prevented. If more people were willing to take such risks in 2018, the current military slaughter in several nations, mainly funded by U.S. taxpayers, might be curtailed if not stopped. Blockage of information about past whistleblowing deprives the public of inspiring role models.

That’s the kind of reality George Orwell was referring to when he wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Hollywood hoopla ignores media’s history of servility

Hollywood hoopla ignores media’s history of servility

Hollywood hoopla ignores media's history of servility
© Getty

Much of the media nowadays is portraying itself as heroes of the #Resist Trump movement. To exploit that meme, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out “The Post,” a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. But regardless of whether Spielberg’s latest wins the Academy Award for best picture on Sunday night, Americans should never forget the media’s long history of pandering to presidents and the Pentagon.

“The Post” is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam war had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies that most needed to heed its lessons.Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report. Likely because the Washington Post had a female publisher, Spielberg made it, rather than the Times, the star of the show.

Spielberg’s movie portrays Post editor Ben Bradlee denouncing dishonest government officials to publisher Katharine Graham: “The way they lied — those days have to be over.” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who deluged the media with falsehoods about battlefront progress, did more than anyone else (except perhaps President Lyndon Johnson) to vastly increase the bloodbath for Americans and Vietnamese.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Countdown to Doomsday: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Papers 

Countdown to Doomsday: Daniel Ellsberg and the Nuclear Papers 

Photo by August Muench | CC BY 2.0

Just as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock closer than it has ever been to our species extinction point reports show that the U.S. warfare state is moving its latest high-tech rendition of tactical nuclear weapons, the B-61 “Gravity Bomb,” to airbases on the island of Guam. Is this an attempt to intimidate North Korea? Or is it a stage in a crackpot plan to destroy NK’s ability to carry out what that state has stated categorically is its defensive strategy against just such an attack?

Every sane individual I know understands that as long as nuclear weapons exist someday, and that day looms sooner every day, they will be used. The sponsors of the Bulletin, the Union of Concerned Scientists, was established after World War II and the atomic incinerations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, by some of the very scientists and technicians who had made the bomb possible and who then understood the nature of the monstrous evil they had unleashed. Though Albert Einstein was not one of those scientists his theoretical physics had abetted the basic formula for fission and the Bomb and, believing that Nazi Germany was working on a bomb too, he urged President Franklin Roosevelt to undertake the Manhattan Project. He came sorrowfully to regret this action and spoke regularly about his opposition to war and the nuclear age. “If only I had known,” he declared, “I should have become a watchmaker.”

The renowned physicist also focused attention on the existential quandary unique to the human species when he said “Mankind invented the atomic bomb but no mouse would ever construct a mousetrap.” Has there ever been another species that actively enabled the instruments of  its own extermination?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

American Leaker Warns: The US Is ‘Close To Nuclear Armageddon’

American Leaker Warns: The US Is ‘Close To Nuclear Armageddon’

nuclear-war2

Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon papers which exposed the government’s lies during the Vietnam war is vocalizing a warning. He says the United States is really close to a nuclear Armageddon.

Ellsberg, now 86-years-old, leaked the Pentagon papers back in 1969 and he’s now got a new book out which serves a warning to those who care to listen. According to the Daily Mail, Ellsberg’s 7,000-page report was the WikiLeaks disclosure of its time, a sensational breach of government confidentiality that shook Richard Nixon’s presidency and prompted a Supreme Court fight that was supposed to advance press freedom.

In his new book, The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, Ellsberg details how easy nuclear bombs can be triggered and shot off on a false alarm – and that the president isn’t the only who can launch the nukes, as we are often told.  Low-level military commanders are capable of launching nuclear weapons too.

All out-nuclear war — an irreversible, unprecedented and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World War I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these,” writes Ellsberg in his new book.

Adding to fears of a nuclear armageddon is North Korea’s insistence on building a nuclear weapon.  This has created a mass panic in nations all around the globe.  Not to mention, last month, President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the US to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button

Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button

Daniel Ellsberg – America’s most famous whistleblower, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which helped end the Vietnam war – has just published a book revealing that he was also one of the main nuclear war planners for the United States in the 1960s.

Ellsberg said in an interview this morning that the U.S.  had plans for a first strike on every city in Russia and China … and that numerous field-level commanders had the power to start nuclear Armageddon:

[Interviewer] So, you made copies of top-secret reports for plans about nuclear war years before you copied the Pentagon Papers—

DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s right.

[Interviewer] —and released them to the press?

DANIEL ELLSBERG: Essentially, my notes, and sometimes verbatim excerpts, not the entire plans themselves, but on plans that were then unknown to the president, to begin with, to President Kennedy. I briefed his aide, McGeorge Bundy, in his first month in office on the nature of the plans and some of the other problems, like the delegation of authority to theater commanders for nuclear war by President Eisenhower, which was fairly shocking to McGeorge Bundy, even though Kennedy chose to renew that delegation, as other presidents have.

But I was given the job of improving the Eisenhower plans, which was not a very high bar, actually, at that time, because they were, on their face, the worst plans in the history of warfare. A number of people who saw them, but very few civilians ever got a look at them. In fact, the joint chiefs couldn’t really get the targets out of General LeMay at the Strategic Air Command.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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