Ellsberg penned an op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday defending Snowden's flight from justice, canonizing Snowden and dutifully serving up accolades to Greenwald and his employer (The Guardian), without once mentioning that he has at least a professional connection to Glenn Greenwald that could serve as a potential conflict of interest: Ellsberg sits on the Board of this front group with Glenn Greenwald. So much for transparency, I guess.
Regardless of how Ellsberg himself would like to paper over them - now that he has chosen to shill for an extreme front group - the differences between the leaking of the Pentagon Papers and the NSA documents are real, palpable, and important to the national debate. The Pentagon Papers were released to expose the lies the government had been telling the American people in prosecuting a war. Snowden's "revelations" have exposed nothing of the sort, because there isn't currently a war the government is fighting based on lies.
Be that as it may, the substance of Ellsberg's defense of Snowden's flight centers around something that is pure conjecture: when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg was allowed out on bail after surrendering to arrest, and then when the government's illegalities came to light, the case against him was dropped. In that time, he was allowed to freely speak out against the Vietnam war. Ellsberg claims that there is no chance that Snowden would be allowed out on bail. Based on what? Based on the pure power of Daniel Ellsberg's words? I mean, I am certain that Snowden may not be allowed out on bail now that he has proven himself to be a flight risk, but just what makes Ellsberg a sudden expert on bail hearings?
Ah but of course, didn't you see what they did to Bradley Manning (interestingly, Greenwald's and Wikileak's other pet project)? Ellsberg tells us that the UN Special Rapporteur found the conditions of Bradley Manning's detention to be "cruel, inhuman and degrading," and points to a Guardian article that claims the Special Rapporteur made that conclusion based on the Manning's year-long solitary confinement 23 hours a day.
Perhaps both Mr. Ellsberg and his Guardian source would be interested in finding out that the actual report from the UN Special Rapporteur makes no such conclusion, and doesn't even use the words 'cruel,' 'inhuman,' or 'degrading' with respect to the Bradley Manning case. They may be further interested in knowing that the UN Convention Against Torture nowhere even mentions solitary confinement as a form of cruel or inhuman treatment, let alone torture. But really, Mr. Ellsberg, do facts really count that much when you are trying to spread propaganda for a cause celeb of a front group?
Ellsberg also seems to miss an obvious distinction between Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden is a civilian; Mr. Manning is a member of the United States Armed forces. Manning is subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice - which, by the way, allows for him to be thrown in the brig and tried in a military court - while Edward Snowden is not. All Snowden has to answer to is the civilian court system. Snowden, were he to return to the United States, would be tried in a federal court, with all the protections of the Constitution and the best defense that money can buy.
The second pillar of Ellsberg's argument is that while his trial was terminated by the Nixon administration's illegal behavior, that couldn't happen in Snowden's case.
There is no chance that experience could be reproduced today, let alone that a trial could be terminated by the revelation of White House actions against a defendant that were clearly criminal in Richard Nixon’s era — and figured in his resignation in the face of impeachment — but are today all regarded as legal (including an attempt to “incapacitate me totally”).Just what law is it that Ellsberg is claiming permits the government to "incapacitate" a criminal defendant legally? Please, do enlighten us - or is it just the newest conspiracy theory radical anti-government folks are supposed to run with?
There is one thing Ellsberg is right about though - even if inadvertently: he's right that a Snowden trial would not be terminated or dismissed due to illegal conduct or abuses of power from the administration. President Obama does not run illegal operations from the White House or mislead the American public about matters of grave importance in national security, as the Republicans have found out in their multiple attempts to persecute the President for the attack in Benghazi.
Come to think of it, the fact that this president and his team don't run an illegal, abusive regime is the biggest problem for the Snowden-apologists like Mr. Ellsberg. Without that tool to incapacitate a prosecution, Mr. Snowden's time in a federal prison after a fair trial seems secure.
But why stop at simply making things up about a UN report or about the government's ability to "incapacitate" a criminal defendant legally? Why not just believe the words of a fugitive - backed up by nothing thus far released - and spread conspiracy theories comparing the United States with the German Stasi?
It was, in effect, a global expansion of the Stasi, the Ministry for State Security in the Stalinist “German Democratic Republic,” whose goal was “to know everything.” But the cellphones, fiber-optic cables, personal computers and Internet traffic the NSA accesses did not exist in the Stasi’s heyday.Never mind that (a) the NSA programs are authorized by a duly constituted federal court, that (b) the programs are entirely legal and constitutional, and that (c) receiving any content or personally identifiable information requries a 4th Amendment warrant. Never mind any of that. Why, we're on a totalitarian-reference rant based on no facts at all, so don't stop us. Oh, and by the way, I wonder if Mr. Ellsberg finds it the least bit ironic that the Venezuela, the country where Ed Snowden is likely to end up accepting asylum at, has one of the worst records on press freedoms?
What he has given us is our best chance — if we respond to his information and his challenge — to rescue ourselves from out-of-control surveillance that shifts all practical power to the executive branch and its intelligence agencies: a United Stasi of America.
Under Chávez, the government dramatically expanded its ability to control the content of the country’s broadcast and news media. It passed laws extending and toughening penalties for speech that “offends” government officials, prohibiting the broadcast of messages that “foment anxiety in the public,” and allowing for the arbitrary suspension of TV channels, radio stations, and websites.Can you imagine what the Venezuelan government would do to Snowden if he had done this to them? Oh, and on Ellsberg's venerated human rights? Venezuela's record is even better:
In September 2012, Venezuela announced its withdrawal from the American Convention on Human Rights, a move that leaves Venezuelans without recourse to what has been for years – in countries throughout the region – themost important external mechanism for seeking redress for abuses when national courts fail to provide it.I hope Mr. Snowden is a good guest in that country. Because you know what they're going to do to a foreigner who criticizes their government! And I'm certain I'm missing the brain heft it takes to look at this and still claim it is the United States that is closer to a Stalinist state.
The Chávez government also sought to block international organizations from monitoring the country’s human rights practices. In 2008, the president had representatives of Human Rights Watch forcibly detained and summarily expelled from the country after they released a report documenting his government’s violation of human rights norms. Following the expulsion, his then-foreign minister and now chosen successor, Nicolás Maduro, announced that, “Any foreigner who comes to criticize our country will be immediately expelled.”
It is understandable that a man like Daniel Ellsberg - who discovered major abuses in government power and lies to lead and keep our country in a war - would never be able to trust the government again. I can see his experience would make him forever suspicious of the government and inclined to give the benefit of the doubt to any "leaker."
But I cannot in good conscience believe that it would also lead a reasonable person who really believes in freedom of information to make up lies, accept other made up lies, and fearmonger without facts. And I cannot believe that someone with a clear conscience would do so while hiding their connection to the very s hyping and advocating for.
Daniel Ellsberg used to be a respected figure and an authority on the government's potential abuses. But it is clear that after this, he should no longer be. He is now merely a shill for Glenn Greenwald, Wikileaks and their radical anti-American agenda. He is now a man flat-out lying about the US government and extolling a traitor that has not only leaked classified information but may well have given our classified information to our economic and military adversaries. This is one stunning fall from grace.