Daniel Ellsberg was a true hero

Posted 6/29/23

Daniel Ellsberg died June 16 at the age of 92. He made public the “Pentagon Papers.”

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Daniel Ellsberg was a true hero


Daniel Ellsberg died June 16 at the age of 92. He made public the “Pentagon Papers,” detailing the true negative assessments of U.S. military and political leaders about the U.S. war against Vietnam, even while they insisted on continuing the war.

For the sake of truth, justice and life, Ellsberg took the chance of being sentenced to years in prison. His actions may have helped save the lives of up to a million Vietnamese and tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers.

His courage so infuriated President Nixon and his close advisers that they violated laws so basic that Nixon was forced to resign just short of impeachment, and some of his aides ended up in prison themselves. 

I am saddened by his death for his sake, for his family’s sake and for the nation’s. I met him only once, on May 4, 1972, when I was one of the organizers of a demonstration against the war on one side of the Capitol and he was one of the speakers.

There was what seemed at the time a weird scuffle when some men attacked him. We later discovered they were among “the plumbers,” Nixon’s undercover posse of bully boys whose secret assignment was to harass and violate Ellsberg. In that moment, Ellsberg was as brave personally and bodily as he was politically.

I hunger for the emergence of many who can respond to their own lives as his did: whistle-blowers in the government and in the carbon-corporations, depositors in banks that invest in the carbon-corporations that are burning the  earth, police officers disgusted by the racist violence of other officers, legislators revolted by their colleagues’ votes to deny women or young trans people life-saving medical procedures.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

The Shalom Center

Mt. Airy