Wiki-leak of the Past
With all the "wiki-leaks" of today, I got to thinking, is it something new or are we just more aware of it today because of the Internet and media coverage. Is a leak of information nothing more than a "whistle-blower" account or can it be deemed "terrorism"? So, it brought me to a "wiki-leak" of the past: THE PENTAGON PAPERS. For those that are two young or don't remember it from the past, I will refresh your memory.
The year 1971, the players, President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his national security advisor. Others: Robert McNamara, Daniel Ellsberg, The CIA, The FBI.
- Robert McNamara, as defense secretary, 1968, with scholars and analysts, including Mr. Ellsberg, put together thousands of papers documenting the US-Vietnam involvement.
- Daniel Ellsberg, a former soldier, disillusioned with the war, takes the documentation and leaks it to the New York Times.
- New York Times publishes article: Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing US Involvement.
- The president was unaware of the research and was actually happy of the embarrassment that it might bring to the democrats until he actually had time to sit back and think about what it actually meant. How easy it would be for "their" secrets to be leaked as well.
- Soon, the media was running copies of the now dubbed "Pentagon Papers" in mass.
- The President with Kissinger became even more concerned when the leaks on the Vietnam war, not only embarrassed politicians, but it embarrassed America and angered Americans, fueling antiwar sentiment that had begun prior to the release of the papers and now added credibility to their cause.
- Nixon wanted to know who was behind this leak, at any cost.
- The "plumbers" were called in to stop the leak, the plumbers were made up of ex-FBI and CIA agents. When it was determined that Mr. Ellsberg was the leak, they broke into his office and continued to investigate him.
- Daniel Ellsberg, had a long list of achievements in education, military and in government research in nuclear studies pertaining to war strategies and in 1965 he was appointed as Senior liaison to the US Embassy in Saigon. After years of intelligence and first hand views of the war in Vietnam, Ellsberg's opinion of the war had changed. As he put it, " I felt as an American citizen, a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing information from the American people." He accepted responsibility for his actions.
- Nixon in a tirade called Ellsberg a son-of-a-bitch and unbalanced. He called the newspapers "sluts." Eventually using the same tactics in what became the "Watergate Scandal" and his undoing. Kissinger, continued to be a strong political ali to the Cheny/Bush Administration, meeting with them regularly for advice.
- Ellsberg was not charged due to government misconduct.
How did this wiki-leak affect todays leaks?
While both leaks hurt America's credibility and made them vulnerable around the world; the Pentagon Papers has now long been forgotten and those involved have pretty much gone on with their lives. The wikileak of today, in a volatile time of terrorism and not one but two wars; with the Internet and media information available at every second of the day, it has lingered somewhat longer. However, the undoing of Julian Assange and his leaks will not be the leaks due the strengthened First Amendment principles in the US, that came from the Pentagon Papers leak, but other personal immoral actions of Mr. Assange.
However, like with many crimes, there will be "copy cats" out there that will want to follow suit. The question will still stand:
Will this make them terrorists or whistle-blowers?