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January 17, 2014 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Pentagon papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg held a Reddit AMA this week, and found out something new about the whole affair - 43 years later.
posted by pjern (11 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ellsberg makes a good point there too:
the ability of the government to go back to taps collected years earlier to look for material with which to influence potential witnesses in the present. (See their interest in the allegation that the wife of one journalist may have been accused of shoplifting in her past). So people who have "nothing to hide" should ask themselves if that is equally true of their spouses or children, or neighbors, who could possibly be turned into informants by threat of their private lives being revealed.
Having that ability to spy on their citizens and the ability to keep those records, means that the state can always find some dirt on you. Combine that with its ability to spread its version of the truth quickly, widely and easily, through its own channels and a compliant press and potentially it can make anybody look dodgy quickly.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:00 AM on January 17 [14 favorites]


Mitchell: Well, uh, we have Ellsberg back into some of our domestic Communists.

Nixon: Have you?

Mitchell: Yes.

Nixon: You really have?

Mitchell: Yup.

Nixon: Domestic Communists -- now, that's that's great. That's the kind of thing we need.


Recall also that Anthony Russo, a former RAND colleague of Ellsberg's who had helped photocopy the documents and urged Ellsberg to distribute them, was subpoenaed in August 1971 and imprisoned for six weeks after refusing to testify against Ellsberg before a grand jury.

That's what I've been talking about in earlier answers: the ability of the government to go back to taps collected years earlier to look for material with which to influence potential witnesses in the present. (See their interest in the allegation that the wife of one journalist may have been accused of shoplifting in her past). So people who have "nothing to hide" should ask themselves if that is equally true of their spouses or children, or neighbors, who could possibly be turned into informants by threat of their private lives being revealed.

The ability of the government to go back to taps collected years earlier to look for material, he says.

"If a terrorist is suspected of having contacts inside the United States, the NSA can query a database that contains the metadata of every phone call made in the U.S. going back five years."
posted by three blind mice at 1:07 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


And these folks already view activists as terrorists :1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, .. (all 2013)
posted by jeffburdges at 2:02 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Getting to meet Daniel Ellsberg in person was one of the highlights of last year for me. I got to meet him because of his championing of Bradley Manning. He's a remarkable person and this is fascinating. Thanks.
posted by gingerbeer at 5:32 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


Ellsberg is a great man, and this was a fascinating read—thanks for the post.
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on January 17


I got to meet him because of his championing of Bradley Manning.

Chelsea, no? Or has something changed that I missed? (This is highly probable)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:21 AM on January 17


Having that ability to spy on their citizens and the ability to keep those records, means that the state can always find some dirt on you. Combine that with its ability to spread its version of the truth quickly, widely and easily, through its own channels and a compliant press and potentially it can make anybody look dodgy quickly.

To add some deep flavor to this, there have been claims that 'wannabe senator' Barack Obama had some of his communications swept up by the NSA in 2004.

I am less worried about retroactive crime prosecutions or reputation smears than I am about the historically proven effectiveness of surveillance as a tool for political blackmail. Particularly with the kinds of budget dollars and private industry involvement now at play in the U.S.
posted by srboisvert at 9:36 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


Political blackmail is one thing...now with independent contractors in the mix and such, you have new private free market opportunities like blackmailing Tom Cruise because you found some evidence that might damage his career, or what have you. You've got to pay somebody a lot of money to keep that temptation from taking over their better judgment, but then there's something about powerful people who get paid a lot of money that seems to make them more prone to temptation!

Money is the root of all evil
Money over everything
Mo' money, mo problems
Selfishness drives innovation!
posted by lordaych at 1:38 PM on January 17


Highlights of Daniel Ellsberg’s Reddit AMA on Edward Snowden and NSA surveillance
posted by homunculus at 8:04 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


feckless, on that point, let's just say that various entities in society have not granted Chelsea Manning the use of her new name, among them the US Courts, many major media outlets, and even (for some time during a dispute) Wikipedia. I personally don't believe the name issue is particularly relevant to the whistleblower aspects of the story, so have some patience.
posted by dhartung at 10:49 PM on January 17


fffm -- thank you for catching that. Yes, Chelsea Manning. My apologies to her. We were referring to her then as Bradley, in part because of the directives of her support network, and that's what was stuck in my head. Her name and identity are very relevant to her work.

I will also say that a group I'm a part of gave Chelsea an award, and Ellsberg accepted it on her behalf, wearing a pink feather boa, and proceeded to give a speech on the dangers of American macho masculinity and the wars that it's gotten us into.
posted by gingerbeer at 7:59 AM on January 18


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