Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ellsberg and Assange

I couldn't help drawing comparisons between University of Melbourne Alma mater, Julian Assange who founded WikiLeaks and whistle-blower extraordinaire Daniel Ellsberg whilst I was watching The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (Erlich & Goldsmith, 2009) screened on ABC TV last night.
Daniel Ellsberg created international controversy in 1971 when he smuggled a top-secret Pentagon study to the New York Times that revealed how five American Presidents consistently lied to the world about America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg's actions led directly to Watergate and the downfall of President Nixon.
Julian Assange has published classified details, including secret US diplomatic cables about American involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and like Ellsberg was arrested for leaking US secret documents.
Although 79 years old, Daniel Ellsberg is still actively fighting for freedom of information and is an avid supporter of Assange. Indeed, in October 2009, on the eve of what has been called 'the biggest leak of classified documents in US history', Ellsberg declared in his Democracy Now interview: I've been waiting forty years for a release of documents of this scale.
The more I researched Ellsberg I realised his effort in serving as a Marine in the Vietnam War and his determination to photocopy 7,000 pages of a secret report can't really be compared to the actions of Assange, who, unlike Ellsberg has an entourage of protectors and supporters in his endeavour to uncover truth.
However, a comparison can be made, because the Ellsberg leak revealed that American Presidents were lying about the Vietnam War and WikiLeaks have proved beyond a doubt that America is lying about Iraq. But it appears that nobody really cares! I don't know about you, but I tire of living in a world in which prominent leaders fabricate information.

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