January 28, 2004

"I can only admire the more timely, courageous action of Katherine Gun, the GCHQ translator who risked her career and freedom to expose an illegal plan to win official and public support for an illegal war, before that war had started. "

Those who do not understand history are condemnded to
repeat it...

Daniel Ellsberg: I can only admire the more timely, courageous action of Katherine Gun, the GCHQ translator who risked her career and freedom to expose an illegal plan to win official and public support for an illegal war, before that war had started. Her revelation of a classified document urging British intelligence to help the US bug the phones of all the members of the UN security council to manipulate their votes on the war may have been critical in denying the invasion a false cloak of legitimacy. That did not prevent the aggression, but it was reasonable for her to hope that her country would not choose to act as an
outlaw, thereby saving lives. She did what she could, in time for it to make a difference, as indeed others should have done, and still can.

Repudiate the 9/11 Coverup and the Iraq War Lies, Show
Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1132043,00.html

Comment

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Leak against this war

US and British officials must expose their leaders'
lies about Iraq - as I did over Vietnam

Daniel Ellsberg
Tuesday January 27, 2004
The Guardian

After 17 months observing pacification efforts in
Vietnam as a state department official, I laid eyes
upon an unmistakable enemy for the first time on New
Year's Day in 1967. I was walking point with three
members of a company from the US army's 25th Division,
moving through tall rice, the water over our ankles,
when we heard firing close behind us. We spun around,
ready to fire. I saw a boy of about 15, wearing
nothing but ragged black shorts, crouching and firing
an AK-47 at the troops behind us. I could see two
others, heads just above the top of the rice, firing
as well.
They had lain there, letting us four pass so as to get
a better shot at the main body of troops. We couldn't
fire at them, because we would have been firing into
our own platoon. But a lot of its fire came back right
at us. Dropping to the ground, I watched this kid
firing away for 10 seconds, till he disappeared with
his buddies into the rice. After a minute the platoon
ceased fire in our direction and we got up and moved
on.

About an hour later, the same thing happened again;
this time I only saw a glimpse of a black jersey
through the rice. I was very impressed, not only by
their tactics but by their performance.

One thing was clear: these were local boys. They had
the advantage of knowing every ditch and dyke, every
tree and blade of rice and piece of cover, like it was
their own backyard. Because it was their backyard. No
doubt (I thought later) that was why they had the
nerve to pop up in the midst of a reinforced battalion
and fire away with American troops on all sides. They
thought they were shooting at trespassers, occupiers,
that they had a right to be there and we didn't. This
would have been a good moment to ask myself if they
were wrong, and if we had a good enough reason to be
in their backyard to be fired at.

Later that afternoon, I turned to the radio man, a
wiry African American kid who looked too thin to be
lugging his 75lb radio, and asked: "By any chance, do
you ever feel like the redcoats?"

Without missing a beat he said, in a drawl: "I've been
thinking that ... all ... day." You couldn't miss the
comparison if you'd gone to grade school in America.
Foreign troops far from home, wearing helmets and
uniforms and carrying heavy equipment, getting shot at
every half-hour by non-uniformed irregulars near their
own homes, blending into the local population after
each attack.

I can't help but remember that afternoon as I read
about US and British patrols meeting rockets and mines
without warning in the cities of Iraq. As we faced
ambush after ambush in the countryside, we passed
villagers who could have told us we were about to be
attacked. Why didn't they? First, there was a good
chance their friends and family members were the ones
doing the attacking. Second, we were widely seen by
the local population not as allies or protectors - as
we preferred to imagine - but as foreign occupiers.
Helping us would have been seen as collaboration,
unpatriotic. Third, they knew that to collaborate was
to be in danger from the resistance, and that the
foreigners' ability to protect them was negligible.

There could not be a more exact parallel between this
situation and Iraq. Our troops in Iraq keep walking
into attacks in the course of patrols apparently
designed to provide "security" for civilians who,
mysteriously, do not appear the slightest bit inclined
to warn us of these attacks. This situation - as in
Vietnam - is a harbinger of endless bloodletting. I
believe American and British soldiers will be dying,
and killing, in that country as long as they remain
there.

As more and more US and British families lose loved
ones in Iraq - killed while ostensibly protecting a
population that does not appear to want them there -
they will begin to ask: "How did we get into this
mess, and why are we still in it?" And the answers
they find will be disturbingly similar to those the
American public found for Vietnam.

I served three US presidents - Kennedy, Johnson and
Nixon - who lied repeatedly and blatantly about our
reasons for entering Vietnam, and the risks in our
staying there. For the past year, I have found myself
in the horrifying position of watching history repeat
itself. I believe that George Bush and Tony Blair lied
- and continue to lie - as blatantly about their
reasons for entering Iraq and the prospects for the
invasion and occupation as the presidents I served did
about Vietnam.

By the time I released to the press in 1971 what
became known as the Pentagon Papers - 7,000 pages of
top-secret documents demonstrating that virtually
everything four American presidents had told the
public about our involvement in Vietnam was false - I
had known that pattern as an insider for years, and I
knew that a fifth president, Richard Nixon, was
following in their footsteps. In the fall of 2002, I
hoped that officials in Washington and London who knew
that our countries were being lied into an illegal,
bloody war and occupation would consider doing what I
wish I had done in 1964 or 1965, years before I did,
before the bombs started to fall: expose these lies,
with documents.

I can only admire the more timely, courageous action
of Katherine Gun, the GCHQ translator who risked her
career and freedom to expose an illegal plan to win
official and public support for an illegal war, before
that war had started. Her revelation of a classified
document urging British intelligence to help the US
bug the phones of all the members of the UN security
council to manipulate their votes on the war may have
been critical in denying the invasion a false cloak of
legitimacy. That did not prevent the aggression, but
it was reasonable for her to hope that her country
would not choose to act as an outlaw, thereby saving
lives. She did what she could, in time for it to make
a difference, as indeed others should have done, and
still can.

I have no doubt that there are thousands of pages of
documents in safes in London and Washington right now
- the Pentagon Papers of Iraq - whose unauthorised
revelation would drastically alter the public
discourse on whether we should continue sending our
children to die in Iraq. That's clear from what has
already come out through unauthorised disclosures from
many anonymous sources and from officials and former
officials such as David Kelly and US ambassador Joseph
Wilson, who revealed the falsity of reports that Iraq
had pursued uranium from Niger, which President Bush
none the less cited as endorsed by British
intelligence in his state of the union address before
the war. Both Downing Street and the White House
organised covert pressure to punish these leakers and
to deter others, in Dr Kelly's case with tragic
results.

Those who reveal documents on the scale necessary to
return foreign policy to democratic control risk
prosecution and prison sentences, as Katherine Gun is
now facing. I faced 12 felony counts and a possible
sentence of 115 years; the charges were dismissed when
it was discovered that White House actions aimed at
stopping further revelations of administration lying
had included criminal actions against me.

Exposing governmental lies carries a heavy personal
risk, even in our democracies. But that risk can be
worthwhile when a war's-worth of lives is at stake.

∑ Daniel Ellsberg is the author of Secrets: a Memoir
of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

www.ellsberg.net

Posted by richard at January 28, 2004 10:52 AM