BOB BECKEL: “We’ve got special ops forces. I mean, a dead man can’t leak stuff. This guy’s a traitor, a treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. The guy ought to be—and I’m not for the death penalty, so if I’m not for the death penalty, there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a [bleep].”
Daniel Ellsberg was an employee of the Defense Department who worked on the top secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave the study – The Pentagon Papers – to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial by the United States government, on twelve felony counts, posed a possible sentence of 115 years. It was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings and resignation of President Nixon.
A few days ago, Daniel Ellsberg responded on a podcast to Beckel’s call to kill Assange.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: “Well, it’s appalling. I didn’t remember that, (that Beckel was the campaign manager for Walter Mondale in 1984) but it’s appalling. You are reminding us that it’s not only Republicans like Sarah Palin and others, like Peter King, who will have high positions in the House in the next term, who are calling for this kind of thing.
I’m sure, by the way, that if I released the Pentagon Papers today, the same rhetoric and the same calls would be made about me. I would be called not only a traitor, which I was called then, which was false and slanderous, but I would be called a terrorist.
Terrorist is the word today for someone who is beyond the pale of any rights, of any rights of citizenship or any human rights, someone who can just be dealt with summarily like that. The reason for calling for illegal shooting, which is an odd and unusual call, is because our legal system, with its glorious First Amendment, doesn’t have a law that makes it clearly illegal to do the truth telling that WikiLeaks and The New York Times and Julian Assange have done. Assange and Bradley Manning are no more terrorists than I am, and I’m not a terrorist.
It’s appalling that our national discourse after 9/11, in the last ten years, has (coarsened to) the point where what Nixon did to me covertly can now actually be called for openly and very specifically.
Nixon brought a dozen Cuban American émigrés, Bay of Pigs veterans, up from Miami to at least beat me up. The words were “incapacitate Ellsberg totally,” which covers the word “kill,” which, as their prosecutor said to me at the time, these guys, who were CIA assets, they don’t use the word “kill.” They avoid it. They use words like “neutralize” and “eliminate” and “with extreme prejudice,” “terminate,” that sort of thing. They avoided the word “kill.”’
Ellsberg says that the change is that, what in his time was recognized as a blatantly illegal action by the US government, as something fundamentally destructive to American values, has now become something you can talk about and do quite openly. “And even the President can refer to special operations teams worldwide whose work is to capture or kill. The word “kill” is no longer avoided in these circles, assassinating people who get in the way by telling the truth.” (bolding is by me. jj)
“You never know.”
“Never know what?”
“What’s going to happen.”