Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg's Secrets

THE home where the once-reviled Daniel Ellsberg has lived since the late '70s is hard to find: It's down a small redwood lined street and its address is out of order with its neighbors. When you review what Ellsberg went through in the '70s -- national manhunt, Nixon hiring thugs to break into his therapist's office, Kissinger denouncing him as "the most dangerous man in America" -- it's not hard to see why Ellberg, now nearing 80, would choose to live somewhere a bit removed. 
Nixon and Mao, 1972

A few weeks ago I met Ellsberg to discuss his leaking of the Pentagon Papers -- the record of our involvement in Indochina -- which helped destroy the Nixon presidency and, eventually, bring an end to the war. We talked about the events of those days, secrecy itself, and the very fine POV documentary that goes up tonight on PBS, The Most Dangerous Man in America.

HERE is my piece from today's LATimes. Sobering stuff.

There's some fascinating stuff in the doc, some of which comes from Ellsberg's memoir of the period, Secrets, including tapes in which Nixon urges Kissinger to use nuclear weapons in the conflict. "I just want you to think big." Nixon also told his secretary of state: You're so goddamned concerned about the civilians and I don't give a damn. I don't care."

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