La strada per la pace in Palestina. Parlano gli esperti, e I link di Moveon.org – uno dei maggiori siti non-profit in cui trovate periodicamente gli appelli e le petizioni online per i temi piu’ scottanti
Friday, June 20, 2003
Noah T. Winer, Editor
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SPECIAL FEATURE: GRASSROOTS INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL ELLSBERG
This week, the second of our new Grassroots Interviews. Daniel Ellsberg leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971, exposing the U.S. government’s motives for involvement in the Vietnam War. Last fall, he published “Secrets,” which relates his changing attitudes toward Vietnam and raises crucial questions of government transparency in times of war. Ellsberg has responsed to five of the top questions written and ranked by MoveOn members over the last two weeks. Here’s an excerpt:
“Are we ‘only’ 5%, 10%, of the population? Isn’t that five to ten million adults? One percent? A million. More than that were in demonstrations, in this country alone: as part of a far larger global movement, the largest worldwide protest ever seen before or during any war! That’s enough activists to move and change any country in the world, even (with courage) a police state. And we’re far from that, yet. We can avert that real danger if we continue using to the fullest all the freedoms we still have.”
The rest of Mr. Ellsberg’s responses follow this week’s bulletin.
1. Introduction: Where Does the Road Map Lead?
2. One Link
3. Read the Road Map
5. Facts on the Ground: Terrorism
6. Facts on the Ground: Outposts and Settlements
7. Facts on the Ground: The Separation Wall
10. Grassroots Interview: Daniel Ellsberg
11. About the Bulletin
INTRODUCTION: WHERE DOES THE ROAD MAP LEAD?
In July, 2000 Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak broke off talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat at the Camp David summit hosted by U.S. President Bill Clinton. That September, Ariel Sharon, chairman of the Likud party, made a provocative visit to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Control over this holy site for both Muslims and Jews is contested by Palestinians and Israelis. The visit implied Israeli sovereignty over all Jerusalem, the eastern portion of which is considered occupied territory by the international community. So began the second intifada, or Palestinian uprising.
As in the first intifada in the late 1980s, the demand is for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem — which has persisted since 1967 — and acknowledgment of the Palestinian refugees right to return to the villages from which they were forced to leave during the 1948 war that established the State of Israel. In the 33 months since, human death has saturated the region: 816 Israelis and 2,384 Palestinians have been killed.
Early in his presidency, George W. Bush avoided substantial involvement in the Israel-Palestine conflict. After September 11, 2001 a number of factors — escalating violence in the area and Israel’s attempt to link September 11th with Palestinian suicide bombings, pressure from the Israel lobby and the Christian Right, and the desire for an increasing U.S. influence in the oil-rich Middle East — prompted Bush to take an active, personal role in promoting an agreement.
That proposed agreement is the Road Map. While the initiative has been praised for calling for an end to violence and for endorsing the formation a Palestinian state, the Road Map provides no mechanism for actually ending the violence, leaves uncertain the borders of the proposed state, and postpones determining the status of the 380,000 Israeli settlers and four million Palestinian refugees. With matters so central to the resolution of the conflict left to be decided at a future date or ignored entirely, the Road Map is still far from being a bona fide peace proposal.
True and lasting peace begins with justice for all the people of the region. That the Road Map will lead in that direction is not at all evident.
From the UK Guardian, a good summary of the Israel-Palestine Road Map. The one flaw is the claim that the Israeli government has accepted the Road Map; in fact, it has only conditionally accepted the Road Map, maintaining 14 reservations.
READ THE ROAD MAP
The Road Map itself is only a few pages long with few details. Drafted under the auspices of the Quartet — the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia — the Road Map envisions three phases of negotiation, resulting in the end of the Israel-Palestine conflict and a permanent status agreement in 2005.
From the only joint Palestinian-Israeli public policy think-tank in the world:
“The Road Map is severely lacking in detail. It mentions that the sides will have to negotiate the permanent status issues such as borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, etc. but makes almost no mention of these issues throughout the process in the earlier phases.”
From the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz:
“According to the facts on the ground, the [Palestinian] ’state’ will apparently be comprised of three enclaves cut off from one another inside the West Bank — in addition to the Gazan enclave, and with no guarantee the settlements inside the enclave will be dismantled. The ’separation fence’ has been described as ‘temporary,’ but it is a wall with hefty fortifications taking up a lot of land, and it has already scarred the Tul Karm-Qalqiliyah area, the most prosperous Palestinian farmland, thus sabotaging one of the cornerstones of Palestinian economic security.”
From The Nation:
“For in failing to focus on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, about to enter its 37th year, and on Israeli settlements, which underpin that occupation, the Road Map misses an opportunity to end this conflict. Instead, it concentrates on Palestinian violence and how to combat it — as if it came out of nowhere, and as if, were it to be halted, the situation of occupation and settlement would be normal.”
FACTS ON THE GROUND: TERRORISM
Human Rights Watch condemns suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians as war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group, on the Rantisi assassination attempt.
An Israeli parliament member and 25 former Israeli generals have raised questions about the timing of Sharon’s assassination attempt.
Senator Dick Lugar (R-Indiana), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has raised the possibility of U.S. military intervention “to root out the terrorism that is at the heart of the problem.”
FACTS ON THE GROUND: OUTPOSTS AND SETTLEMENTS
From the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz:
“Don’t make do with the outposts. There are more than 100 of them, and about 60 went up in Sharon’s days. If he takes down 7-10 he hasn’t done a thing. Many were put up just to pull them out, like a goat from a crowded corral.”
From The Nation:
“A recent poll by Israel’s Jaffee Institute for Strategic Studies shows that 56 percent of Israelis — up from 48 percent last year — would ’support a unilateral withdrawal from the territories in the context of a peace accord, even if that meant ceding all settlements.’ Here is the signpost for a realistic road map that could be charted by the Bush Administration.”
FACTS ON THE GROUND: THE SEPARATION WALL
Gush Shalom reports that the separation wall Israel is constructing in the West Bank is not at all along the internationally recognized 1967 “green line” border. The wall, officially being built for security, annexes illegal settlements into Israel.
A troubling report on the 25-foot tall separation wall from Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot describes how the system of barbed concrete walls and armed watchtowers will imprison hundreds of thousands of Palestinians without access to their agricultural lands.
The Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights and the Environment on legal efforts to block the wall.
CONCLUSION: ALTERNATIVE MAPS
Eyad El Sarraj is the director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program in Gaza City. His vision for peace involves addressing the issues of mistrust and despair in order to cease violence.
Yakov M. Rabkin is a professor of history at the University of Montreal. He describes how Israel-Palestine could become neither a Jewish state, nor an Arab state, but a state of all its citizens.
GRASSROOTS INTERVIEW: DANIEL ELLSBERG
The following are the personal responses of Daniel Ellsberg to the top-ranked questions MoveOn members posed last week:
First, let me say that the messages accompanying the questions below, and many of the others, are eloquent, impassioned, and very well-informed despite perplexities that I fully share. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to read them. To be reminded that there are American citizens so thoughtful and so concerned both to understand and to alleviate our condition has the same effect for me of witnessing and taking part in the large demonstrations and actions of civil disobedience during the first stage of the ongoing war in Iraq. It sustains my hope that we have a chance to avert the disasters this administration is heading for at home and abroad.
As those demonstrations did for me, and I’m sure for other participants, these letters remind me that although those of us who actively oppose this war of aggression and occupation — and the ominous abridgements of the Bill of Rights that are accompanying it — are only a small proportion of the American public: We are America, too, and there are a lot of us.
Are we “only” 5%, 10%, of the population? Isn’t that five to ten million adults? One percent? A million. More than that were in demonstrations, in this country alone: as part of a far larger global movement, the largest worldwide protest ever seen before or during any war! That’s enough activists to move and change any country in the world, even (with courage) a police state. And we’re far from that, yet. We can avert that real danger if we continue using to the fullest all the freedoms we still have.
On to the questions:
1. Should a special prosecutor investigate charges of racketeering by members of the Bush administration who personally profited from the war on Iraq?
– Gerald Kleiner, Middletown, New York, USA
I’m not a lawyer — I’m a defendant — so I consulted movement lawyers, one of whom helped me look up the RICO Act: http://caselaw.1p.findlaw.com/casecode/uscodes/18/parts/i/chapters/96/toc.html. Another lawyer who is familiar with that act confirmed my layman’s sense, as I read it, that it would be quite a stretch, legally, to apply that particular statute to the war-profiteering of this administration’s favorite firms. If you happen on an adventurous prosecutor who wants to take it on, good luck! But it doesn’t really look like a promising approach.
Your mention of racketeering in this context, though, sent me onto the web to recapture a staggering quotation by the Marine hero Major General Smedley Butler, summing up his thirty-years of service largely in U.S. colonial wars from Nicaragua and Cuba to China: “During that time I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism…The best (Al Capone) could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.” Look up the whole quote, which would have been an eye-opener for me if I had read it when I was in the Marines: www.fas.org/man/smedley.htm. Butler doesn’t mention there that in colonial operations in Mexico (Vera Cruz) and Haiti he was awarded two Congressional Medals of Honor. How many medals will be won, some posthumously, by pre-enlightened American officers and troops in Iraq and elsewhere, now that we’ve extended our protect ion rackets from the Caribbean to the Persian Gulf?
My lawyer friend points out that it will be hard to find that businessmen broke any laws in their current profiteering, since it was effectively businessmen who wrote the laws. The secret, no-bid contracts awarded to Cheney’s Halliburton and George Shultz’s Bechtel (and WorldCom! As Molly Ivins exposes in her column Friday on the Iraq Gold Rush) certainly deserve congressional examination. Fat chance. But take the effort to thank journalists like Ivins and Arianna Huffington who bring sunlight onto these scavengers and use their information in letters to the editor and call-in shows, to reopen the discussion of corporate scandals and influence that was interrupted, not by coincidence, by war on Iraq.
2. Why can’t Bush and Cheney be impeached?
– Susan Petry, Durham, North Carolina, USA
The familiar metaphor seems painfully apt here. As the world can see, Uncle Sam is holding a smoking gun, above a stricken nation in the Middle East; and despite his claim of self-defense — the need to beat an aggressor to the draw — no weapons of mass destruction are to be found on the victim.
Thanks to an unprecedented flood of leaks from the intelligence community, it is increasingly clear that whatever the personal beliefs of the officials claiming to “know,” to be “absolutely convinced” that Saddam Hussein “possessed weapons” that were an intolerable threat to us and his neighbors — from Bush and Powell and Rumsfeld to Wolowitz–their statements about the secret evidential basis for these confident assertions were wildly misleading. Those assurances — which were critical to justifying, on grounds of “necessity,” a “preemptive” war that would otherwise appear blatantly criminal–look like lies. (See an excellent discussion in this week’s New Republic, by John Judis and Spencer Ackerman: “The Selling of the War: The First Casualty.” http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20030630&s=ackermanjudis063003)
Exactly so, their claims of “bullet-proof” evidence of significant links of Iraq to 9-11. If so, we were lied into war. Tens of thousands of Iraqis — including more innocent civilians than were murdered (not by Saddam Hussein) on 9-11 — were lied to death, along with American KIA in numbers that are increasing week by week (and will continue to increase, I believe, every week that George W. Bush and Richard Cheney remain in office).
That’s a serious charge. But I’m prepared to believe it on the basis of my own experience, not only in Vietnam — which is looking painfully relevant to our prospects in the occupation of Iraq — but in Washington under Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson. I watched — and, I’m sorry to say, kept my mouth shut outside the Pentagon — as they lied Congress into a delegation of war powers by claiming certainty about an unprovoked attack on our warships (See http://www.ellsberg.net/sample.htm). I knew at the time that the evidence for that attack was highly ambiguous: just like, it appears, evidence before the war that Saddam still possessed and had deployed WMD’s. In fact, there had been no attack at all, but Congress scarcely suspected that for years: I didn’t tell them, nor did anyone else in the Executive branch who had reached that conclusion. Suspicions of the total absence of WMD’s have emerged, this time, within m onths of the exaggerated claims.
Was that manipulation in 1964 an impeachable offense? I would say flatly yes: of the most serious kind. Likewise if President Bush and his vice president and cabinet officers (all, by the way, subject to impeachment) are guilty of the same misrepresentation of the secret intelligence available to them in their justification for a war unauthorized by the UN Charter and Security Council. I personally suspect that’s true. That doesn’t mean that I see any prospect whatever that this Republican Congress (or the majority of these Democrats!) would actually impeach or convict this President for this war, no matter what evidence is produced. Yet I think it’s important for our democracy, and our security, to argue forcefully right now that lying us into war — as has happened before — was and would be now a high crime, an impeachable offense.
So far our evidence that this has happened is almost entirely from leaks (as was true in 1971, with the Pentagon Papers). Not enough has been disclosed yet to call credibly for impeachment, which amounts to indictment. To raise the issue of Executive accountability, yes. To investigate, certainly.
The current MoveOn petition drive has it exactly right: only citizen pressure on Congress to establish an independent bipartisan commission will provide a basis for Executive accountability. The currently-planned “review” in secret sessions of the Senate Intelligence Committee (the Republican chairman will not even let it be called an “investigation”!), confined to the performance of the intelligence agencies, will not do that job. Republicans, under White House pressure, will resist our calls for an independent commission, or even for open hearings in other relevant committees. But our own citizens’ pressure, which should start now (good ad last week, MoveOn!) to investigate how we got into this quagmire and whether there was official betrayal of the public trust will get harder to resist as weeks and months go by of continued bloodletting and growing opposition in Iraq to our occupation.
3. What do we, as a nation, have to do to stop this type of abuse of power, corruption, conflict of interest, lying, cheating, powermongering, and fraudulent behavior?
– N. Webster, Pasadena, California, USA
The founders of our nation, the drafters of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, had better answers to these age-old problems of Executive abuse of power than the world had ever seen before, and better than we’ve been taught to accept in the last sixty years of Cold War and hot wars. Their distrust of mortals in power, their insights on the need for checks and balances, separation of powers, impeachment, constitutional guarantees of citizens’ rights as against legislative or executive authority, have been steadily obscured and repressed on spurious grounds of national security. The effect has been to make the president just what the founders meant to prevent: an elected monarch. Or, as it turns out this year, a nearly-elected emperor.
If monarchy is corrupting — and it is — wait till you see what overt empire does to us. It’s time to read Tom Paine again (another good website, as it happens) and wake up from our dreams of kingship and lording it over others, to reconstruct a republic. The Constitution, as written and amended, really deserves our loyalty and our defense of it, against all enemies foreign and domestic: and this administration has within it more domestic enemies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights than any we’ve seen before. They’ve got to go; but that’s just a start, for our recovery from an addiction to arms-building and (till just now, covert) empire.
Only we, the public, can force our representatives to reverse their abdication of the war powers that the Constitution gives exclusively to the Congress. (See Abraham Lincoln — before he became president himself — writing from Congress in 1848: “The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.” http://www.watchpost.org/lincoln.htm).
Except for 123 House members and 23 Senators, members of Congress, Republican and Democratic (including several presidential candidates) covered themselves with shame by giving the president, with no hearings and scant deliberation or debate, an undated, unconstitutional, declaration of war. This was some improvement over 1964 — when only two Senators voted against the equivalent Tonkin Gulf Resolution — and considerably better than their own performance one year earlier in September, 2001, when exactly one lawmaker, Barbara Lee of Oakland, had the conscience and courage to vote against giving the president, without prior hearings or debate, almost-unlimited power to go to war (in Afghanistan, or wherever he might claim a link to 9-11: Rumsfeld, we now know, wanted invade Iraq right away, but was put off). But in 2001 and 2002 the majority didn’t even have the excuse that the president had lied to them, like Lyndon Johnson in 1964, about his intent to cash this blank check for war. (Bush appears to have lied only about his reasons). The Vietnam quagmire got Congress to enact (over Nixon’s veto) the War Powers Act, which remained an abdication of the constitutional responsibilities of Congress and which subsequently elected kings all ignored. With the Iraq fiasco (as I believe it will soon appear) let’s educate our fellow citizens to demand a return to the Constitution.
4. How can the people take a stance against unjust wars when the media and Congress play a complicit role in either keeping the truth from the public or refusing to question supposed “evidence” without demanding proof?
– April Cartright, Lake Worth, Florida, USA
Why did not one of Barbara Lee’s Congressional colleagues — many of whom had districts as safe as hers — join her in voting against an unconstitutional delegation of their war powers, without deliberation? Many of them, she told me, had assured her they would vote with her up till the moment of the vote; she was startled to find herself alone. Her guess was that they were afraid, at the moment of truth, to be accused, however unjustly, of lack of patriotism, of disloyalty to the president, even of treason. (She got all those charges. They were nearly all from outside her own district. But those words aren’t easy for any American, or anyone, to hear: as I can testify). But she did what she knew was right. And courage is contagious. A year later, against the next Tonkin Gulf-like Resolution for Iraq, she and Dennis Kucinich organized 123 votes in favor of the Constitution.
Lincoln’s comment above related to what he saw as President Polk’s illegal and deceptive provocation of war with Mexico, which he opposed as a Congressman. His later Commander of the Union Army, Ulysses S. Grant, saw that war the same way, when he participated in it as a second lieutenant. In his memoirs he described that war as “one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.”
He describes the process of getting into a war of aggression against Mexico in terms very familiar to me from our “reprisal” against the supposed Tonkin Gulf attack and later “retaliation” for attacks at Pleiku and Qui Nhon, and their effects on Congressional opposition. “We were sent to provoke a fight, but it was essential that Mexico should commence it. It was very doubtful whether Congress would declare war; but if Mexico should attack our troops, the executive could announce, ÔWhereas, war exists by the acts of, etc.,” and prosecute the contest with vigor. Once initiated there were but few public men who would have the courage to oppose it. Experience proves that the man who obstructs a war in which his nation is engaged, no matter whether right or wrong, occupied no enviable place in life or history. Better for him, individually, to advocate Ôwar, pestilence, and famine,’ than to act as obstructionist to a war already begun.”
Lincoln, nicknamed “Spotty” at the time for his Spot Resolutions against the Mexican war, was denouncd as “unpatriotic” by his own Whig party in his home district in Illinois, to which he was returned after one two-year term in the House. Grant served in the war he opposed, but he looked back later on a heavy national price: “The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican war. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.” (http://home.nycap.rr.com/history/grant1.html#Ch-4)
A quote on the subject by Hermann Goering, Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi regime, interviewed by a psychologist during his trial at Nuremburg in 1943, has been going around the Internet over the last six months, but usually in a truncated form that leaves out its direct reference to U.S. democracy. Here’s the whole quote, from G. M. Gilbert’s Nuremberg Diary (N.Y. 1947, pp. 278-279), Gilbert being the psychologist, an American intelligence office who spoke German:
We got around to the subject of war again and I said that, contrary to his attitude, I did not think that the common people are very thankful for leaders who bring them war and destruction.
“Why, of course, the people don’t want war,” Goering shrugged. “Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece. Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”
“There is one difference,” I pointed out. “In a democracy the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.”
“Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” At this moment, many of us firmly believe, it is the policies of our president and his advisors, not our own skepticism and protest, that are exposing this country to increased danger: danger of initiating unnecessary, illegal and stalemated or escalating wars; danger of vengeful terrorist attacks (exploiting U.S. vulnerabilities he has neglected to mend and a flow of recruits his wars will swell); and increased danger of nuclear proliferation, eventually to such terrorist groups.
There is a personal and national price to be paid by silence and passive obedience, in the face of such folly, that is greater than the pain of being called names, greater even than the loss of a job or career. It is the price of participating in and failing to expose and resist national disasters, unnecessary and wrongful wars. That was the price — of accepting a definition of patriotism as unquestioning support of national Executive leadership — paid in Hitler’s Germany, Emperor Hirohito’s Japan (see John Dower in this week’s Nation on the myths that evoked patriotic support for Japan’s “liberation” of Manchuria, China and Southeast Asia, and its “pre-emptive” attack on Pearl Harbor (http://www.nationinstitute.org/tomdispatch/index.mhtml?pid=771), in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the U.S. invasion of Vietnam: and now Iraq. It’s up to us — it’s time for us — to prove Goering wrong: it doesn’t have to work that way in our country.
5. How can we best convince the public that they’re being deceived?
– Rosemarie Pilkington, Staten Island, New York, USA
By spreading the word in every way — in email to our friends, letters to the editor, call-ins to talk radio, in every discussion and argument — that they can inform themselves on matters of public policy far better on the Internet than on American TV, mainstream radio (including NPR) or any individual newspaper. The last six months of an extended book tour and political lecturing and activism all over the country has revealed to me that the large minority of Americans opposed to the Iraq war — largely Internet users, I strongly suspect– live in an entirely different world of information from those who actively or passively supported the war, who rely almost entirely on presidential declarations and sources strikingly shaped by official spin.
Daily on the websites like antiwar.com, commondreams.org, buzzflash.com, I find a compilation of critical, relevant, informative news stories and editorial comment from all over the country and abroad which adds up, over time, to something closer to an adequate understanding of current policies and events than was ever available to any public in the past. Ironically, most of the items on these sites do come, after all, from mainstream newspapers in America; but the impact of access to a broad collection of probing or critical stories on a daily basis is very different from reading one or two such analyses or stories in a given hometown newspaper, even a relatively good one. Moreover, through these sites and through direct links to the British Guardian, the Independent, the BBC and CBC (far better than American public radio or TV), and other international news sources in English, Americans can have access not only to other points of view but to news and commentary that is ofte n better informed than we can get in mainstream sources at home.
So the answer to the question (and a number of others like it) is: We should do what we can to expand the daily readership of these sites, and others like them, enormously. Our ability to publicize and expand these sources of information (including relevant history; see my references above) is the informational and educational equivalent of the organizational tactics of MoveOn, United for Peace, and other activist sites.
Still, it’s very hard to get the majority of people in this country, like any other, to believe that their elected leaders are dangerously deceiving them (routine as that actually is: a secret well-kept by insiders who want to remain or come back as insiders). To get them to accept that — to believe it to the point that they will take up the burdens and risks of opposing that leadership in committed and effective ways — takes unusual evidence. It takes more than news stories citing unidentified or unofficial sources, even from those who were recently insiders. It takes documents: large amounts of them. And in the “national security” realm, such documents (above all, those demonstrating deception of the public, or major errors, or possible crimes) will be classified. Congressional hearings can get at some of those, but only up to a point; any administration will strive, usually successfully, to keep such documents (or testimony relating to them) away from Congress altogether , or to postpone their release to the public till they are no longer dramatically pertinent.
MoveOn member Andy Ayers has asked me: “Are we dependent on another whistle-blower insider this administration” to act as I did with the Pentagon Papers in 1971? My answer is yes, but with a difference. I would say — as I have been saying since last September to every audience I’ve addressed, in hopes my message may reach their friends and relatives in the federal government — we need someone to act as I should have done, but did not, long before 1971, when the documents in my safe were current.
“Don’t do what I did; don’t wait till the bombs are falling,” I was saying to potential hearers in government from October through mid-March. “If you know that your bosses and the President are lying about their reasons for this war, or about what they are being told about its prospects and danger and costs, and if you possess documents that demonstrate that, I urge you to consider doing what I wish I had done in 1964 or 1965: go to Congress and the press, with those documents, and tell the truth.”
We are hearing now important leaks, mostly anonymous, complaining of undue administration pressure on intelligence estimates and of misrepresentation and misuse of intelligence. It would have been helpful to hear more of those earlier, but I’m in no position to criticize; as my memoir spells out, it took me years of war to reach that point or go beyond it, and when I did I no longer had access to documents that bore on current White House decision-making. (If I had, I would have released those instead of the history in the Pentagon Papers).
It’s possible for others in the government now to do better than that. To kick-start a stalled process of Congressional investigation, and the public campaign of pressure to pursue those investigations, some with official access must take the responsibility for releasing, without higher authorization, hundreds or thousands of pages of documents they believe, on their experienced judgment, to demonstrate official deception or wrongdoing, without harming national security. I’m confident there are men and women in this administration with access to documents of that nature and with the personal courage and sense of conscience and patriotism to do that, if they reflect on that possibility and the stakes involved. It would mean risking or sacrificing their clearances and careers, perhaps going to prison. It could save several wars’ worth of lives, and democracy in this country.
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