Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poster of the Week


Wouldn't you go to jail if it would help end the War?
Sister Mary Corita Kent
Silkscreen, 1971

The Pentagon Papers, was a U.S. Defense Department authored top-secret history of U.S. political-military involvement in Viet Nam from 1945 to 1967. Concerned about the escalating war, Daniel Ellsberg, one of the contributors to the Pentagon Papers and a former State Department official, gave the documents to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1969. When the war continued to escalate, Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers in early 1971 to the New York Times, Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. The papers revealed that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war with carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos, and coastal raids on North Viet Nam, none of which had been reported by the U.S. media.

It took Ellsberg and Tony Russo, his co-worker at the RAND Corporation*, weeks to secretly photocopy the 7,000 pages at night. Russo and Ellsberg were later charged with espionage, theft, and conspiracy. After learning that Ellsberg's psychiatrist had been burglarized (ordered by the Nixon administration) and the F.B.I had been illegally taping telephone conversations, federal court Judge William M. Byrne, Jr. dismissed all charges against them on May 11, 1973, before it reached a jury. During the trial, the Nixon administration had also offered Judge Byrne the position of FBI director.

Ellsberg later said the documents "demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates". He added that he leaked the papers to end what he perceived to be "a wrongful war". A 1996 article in the New York Times said that the Pentagon Papers "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."

The complete quotation is:

“But I was not wrong to hope that exposing secrets five presidents had withheld and the lies they told might have benefits for our democracy that were worthy of the risks. Wouldn’t you go to jail to help end the war?”

Pentagon Papers II

On Sunday, July 25, 2010, 92,000 classified documents were released by Wikileaks.org* to the New York Times, Guardian (UK) and Der Spiegel (Germany). Almost instantaneously referred to as “Pentagon Papers II”, these documents detail the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and December 2009, including “friendly fire” and civilian casualties. PFC Bradley Manning, A 22-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst, has been arrested after alleged chat logs were turned in to the authorities by a former hacker in whom he had confided.

On 5 April 2010, Wikileaks.org released classified U.S. military footage from a series of attacks on 12 July 2007 in Baghdad by a U.S. helicopter that killed 12 civilians, including two Reuters news staff, on a website called "Collateral Murder".

*RAND is a global policy think tank formed to offer research and analysis to the U.S. armed forces. Its Santa Monica headquarters is often referred to as “CIA West”.)

* Wikileaks.org is an international organization, based in Sweden. It publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents while preserving the anonymity of sources. Its website, launched in 2006, is a prime portal for unauthorized, accurate accounts, documents and video from distant battlefields. To see the recently released documents go to: http://wikileaks.org/wiki/Afghan_War_Diary,_2004-2010

2 comments:

  1. Fine little essay — and I appreciate your noting Tony Russo. Regards from your friend, Steve Grossman

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