Daniel Ellsberg, October 2010

One of the most important whistle-blowers, Dr. Daniel Ellsberg discussed the importance of independent, skeptical media and whistle-blowing.

One of the most important whistle-blowers in history, Dr. Daniel Ellsberg appeared on campus on October 20, 2010 to discuss the importance of independent, skeptical media and whistle-blowing. Repeatedly, he addressed the issue of courage – the willingness of those with inside information of wrongdoing to risk their careers and freedom to inform the public. Ellsberg had risked life in prison in 1971 when he leaked the Pentagon Papers – a secret study detailing the lies of a succession of presidents about Vietnam – to the press. It led to a landmark Supreme Court decision on press freedom. The Nixon White House illegally wire-tapped him and burglarized his psychiatrist’s office.

Ellsberg met with students for a lively afternoon Q&A session and then addressed a large public event in Ford Hall, following a screening of the Oscar-nominated documentary: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. On the issue of endless unwinnable war, Ellsberg drew parallels from the Vietnam era to today. He repeatedly discussed the new communications technologies that allow quicker, more anonymous release of documents to the public. The morning after his appearance – where he signed dozens of books almost until midnight – he received a call from WikiLeaks.org urging him to rush to London to attend its news conference on the release of the “Iraq War Logs,” nearly 400,000 once-secret documents.