Sometimes someon has to take a risk
November 26, 2002 2:16 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone here remember Daniel Ellsberg of the PentagonPapers fame? Well he may be relevant again and not only that, maybe essential.
posted by donfactor (15 comments total)
thinking people should not make do with information offered by the administration, not even Congress

I quit watching the lie-mongers some time back. The war will be much more entertaining filtered through the verisimilitudinator of the Agency.
posted by rushmc at 2:56 PM on November 26, 2002

Ah, Ellsberg...his Watergate compadre Woodward seems to have slowly metamorphed into a sycophant. Ellsberg seems to have held the line. We all should do so well.

He misses one aspect of the current war though - even though the Bush adminstration broadcasts a torrent of lies distortions, half truths, and propaganda (more so than previous adminstrations, that is) in the form of sound bites, slogans, terror warnings, and so on, the actual views of top Bush cabinet - on US geopolitical strategy in the Mideast, on the wisdom of establishing an American World Empire (they call it the new "Pax Americana") and on many other subjects are available on the internet. So: "Rebuilding America's Defenses".

But Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Co. need not fear that the publication of their candid, honest written views - unabashedly imperialist - will hurt them:

Most Americans don't read, and few who read comprehend much due to the shrivelled inernational relations intelligence of US citizens - we don't get out or interact with people outside the US much and so our social intelligence is, in some respects, underdeveloped. Nor do we read much world history. I am not arguing here that Europeans, for example, or people in any country or region around the World are superior to Americans. But Europeans tend to be literate in more than the cultural idioms of their nations of birth. Indeed, most peoples around the World are forced to interact with heterogenous cultural groups and peoples of different nationalities, and this leads to a somewhat expanded social intelligence.

Large culturally homogenous regions like the US are rare: the US, Japan, and Australia come to mind: the Japanese do get out quite a bit, but they are clannish and somewhat insular anyway (so: a single world for foreigner - "Geijin" (sp?)). Americans and Australians share a similar lack of concern for the overall welfare of the world as they spew more hydrocarbons and CO2 (per capita) into the air than peoples anywhere else on the planet - all the while vociferously denying the Global Warming is a myth or that attempts to initiate a world framework agreement on dealing with the issue are fatally flawed (without proposing anything better).

end of rant *wipes brow, blows runny nose*
posted by troutfishing at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2002

Daniel Ellsberg has a website that contains a lot of background information... some historical in
nature, e.g. new transcriptions of Nixon tapes and other material more timely than

posted by mgraham at 3:58 PM on November 26, 2002

Ellsberg and Woodward were compadres, not merely contemporaries? I thought it was Woodward and Bernstein.
posted by turbodog at 4:35 PM on November 26, 2002

Large culturally homogenous regions like the US are rare: the US, Japan, and Australia come to mind

The Yanks can defend themselves here, but I'll be damned if you're going to get away with calling one of the world's only truly multicultural nations insular and homogeneous. It's neither, despite John Howard's best efforts. And most Australians agree that we should have signed Kyoto.
posted by Bletch at 5:36 PM on November 26, 2002

ellsberg and woodward were compadres, not merely contemporaries? i thought it was woodward and bernstein.

Turbodog, true, Woodward & Bernstein were the two reporters on Watergate. I think troutfishing is linking Ellsberg and Woodward as contemporaries and both as major change agents who revealed hidden info on the then administration. And since one of the break-ins by the Watergate plumbers was Ellsberg's office, and Woodward no doubt investigated this, they were both main characters in this historical episode.

I believe troutfishing is simply looking at two people who were viewed as heroes by the American left at the time, and remarking on their divergent paths today.

posted by madamjujujive at 8:58 PM on November 26, 2002

Offtopic : I'll echo Bletch here and take small exception to troutfishing's tarring of Australia with the same brush as America. I do agree with most of tf's rant, of course, and I think some useful things can be said by looking at America and Japan through the same lens, Australia's a different kettle of kangaroos entirely, I think.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:46 PM on November 26, 2002

Bletch, Stavros......I apologize for the ignorant tarring. I must confess - I actually haven't been to Australia....though the CO2 stats are accurate, and I think that that does express something significant. "homogenous" wasn't quite accurate, and doesn't quite describe the US either. "Insular"? Well...

But now that I think about it a bit: Would either of you two agree that recent non Anglo immigrants to Australia defer to the national culture? Immigrant minority groups anywhere tend to do this - so their initial impact on the political culture can be weak at first. So, "homogenous" but perhaps "conformist"? I don't know....

TurboDog - you caught me!....I had a slip of memory and crossed Bernstein with Ellsberg...I blame my mother (poor genetic inheritance for memory)...then again, I've got some bad habits of my own which don't help. Anyway....

MadamJujujive - thanks for backing me - payback for the Phil Ochs post?

...It's always interesting on Mefi to see who comments on the little (low comment/"intellectual"/non-trollish) posts. I waffled a bit initially on 'fessing up to my memory slip. Now I'm waiting for my my Mefi foes to beat me on the head with this cudgel. But nonetheless, the truth is (usually) best and remember:

Remember, Mefi citizen, The goodly Mr. Poindexter over at the Office of Information Awareness is constructing a personality profile for you, to be based on your Metafilter comments, so be true to yourself! That way, when the rat cage is at last strapped to your face, you'll have the unadulterated strength of your convictions to bear the pain. Or maybe you will just....

*comes to senses, goes to bed*
posted by troutfishing at 11:21 PM on November 26, 2002

Hey, it's all good fun but where are today's whistle blowers? When Woodward has the Post to protect and the rest of the US media pack can only think in terms of access and maybe fear of the Patriot's act, how do we find out what's really going on? And what about Israel? They could really use an Ellesberg. Of course the last guy to try that there is still in prison and pretty much kept incommunicado lest he give away secrets that haven't been secret for twenty years or more.

Oh, and I am an American who has been living in the UK for about 30 years. I go back to the states regularly and I am appalled by the lack of awareness about the rest of the world that exists there. My favorite paradigmatic example was a young man I met at a pre-Christmas drinks party one evening in Riverside County, California. When I told him that I lived in England, he asked what I was doing in California. I answered with my standard joke: "Avoiding the English winter." His answer to that was, "Oh, do they have winter at the same time there as we do here?" Enough said.
posted by donfactor at 2:05 AM on November 27, 2002

troutfishing, your easy, insulting prejudice would be a source of long, acrimonious MeTa threads if it were directed at anyone but "Americans". Of course you would immediately apologize when an actual Australian shows up to counter your idiotic generalizations; I don't suppose there's any chance you'll apologize for what, for you, seems to be an ingrained disdain.
posted by dhartung at 6:33 AM on November 27, 2002

Would either of you two agree that recent non Anglo immigrants to Australia defer to the national culture?

Rather than directly answer this question, I'll invite you to get a cheap return flight to Melbourne or Sydney and check out the Turkish, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, German, Croatian, Lebanese, Korean, Japanese, Malaysian and Thai parts of town. If you can wait a few years, try it during the World Cup (or the Grand Prix) to see just how much we all defer to the "national culture" (if that is even definable). After eleven years in Oz I'm still staggered at how well everyone gets along with each other. Even with the Americans!
posted by Bletch at 7:05 AM on November 27, 2002

These frikkin generalizations are ticking me off. Look to any american university for a taste of diversity. Open your eyes around you, talk to people. While there may be merit to this "mericans don't know the world" talk, one forgets that many americans simply "don't know-don't want to know"; That this their right, the right to ignorance. One should speak for one self and some dolt in kal-i-forn-i-Ah ain't much for a cross section of american ignorance (though amusing). Me, I grew up in a very diverse city, 3/4 of my friends parents where from different countries and I feel lucky to have been exposed to others cultures. Spend time in peoples home. learn a snippet of the language, observe and respect the cultures.

on topic: I talked to my mefi patron the other day about Ellsberg. I figure why should one condemn him for his acts, even though he was condemned, when Military and intel folks "leaked" many "secrets" concerning the Clinton administrations' slow dismantling of american intelligence and aspects of the military. Ellsberg did the "right thing" IMO. It would be two-faced to condemn him and not these other folks whom leaked secrets.
posted by clavdivs at 8:43 AM on November 27, 2002

Yeah, the part of America I live in is probably the most diverse place on earth, and I can pick up newspapers in Greek, Bengali, Arabic, Italian, and other languages at a stand right around the corner if I want the ethnic take on world events. There are doubtless insular places in America, but I'll bet there are backwater parts of any country you care to name where they don't give a damn what's happening across the border (or even outside the valley).

And yes, Ellsberg definitely did the right thing, and we need more like him.
posted by languagehat at 10:07 AM on November 27, 2002

Although I still think its beside the point which is that we ought to encourage more whistle blowers and people prepared to go public with unpalatable truths. However I also think that American popular culture dominates much of the rest of the world. They know a lot about us, but we know little of them.

languagehat, you might ask some of your many neighbors from far off lands, what news from those lands they can find at least through the English language media available in the States. It always surprises me that when I return there and turn on the TV I would be hard pressed to realize that anyplace other than the USA actually exists except when some extreme event, usually a disaster, occurs, or when some time is given to a tourist's view of some exotic beauty spot.
posted by donfactor at 4:21 PM on November 27, 2002

ellsberg and woodward were compadres, not merely contemporaries? i thought it was woodward and bernstein.

The connection seems more karmic than anything else:

Hunt, Sturgis, Liddy, and co. dig up dirt on Ellsberg. In turn, Woodward and Bernstein dish on the aforementioned thugs, and ultimately, "Tricky Dick".

Fortunately, they weren't able to uncover that "whole Bay of Pigs thing" that Nixon was so fearful of (according to Ollie Stone).
posted by buz46 at 5:06 PM on November 27, 2002

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