Daniel Ellberg, of Pentagon Papers fame, is dying. From Patrick Lawrence at consortiumnews.com:
The term “Fourth Estate” had taken on the dust of a neglected antique before the release of the Pentagon Papers. Afterwards it seemed possible to think again of the press as the independent pole of power required by a working democracy.
Dan Ellsberg at a press conference in New York City, 1972. (Bernard Gotfryd, Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)
I have never met Daniel Ellsberg. A mutual friend, Rob Johnson, the executive director of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, in New York, proposed to introduce us several times but the occasion never presented itself. It does not matter. I know Dan Ellsberg as one knows someone by way of the work he or she has done, and what that work has meant in one’s life.
Another friend, a dear one, wrote a note from Gadsden, Alabama, last Thursday with the subject line, “Ellsberg dying.” This was thoughtful, as this friend unfailingly is, because Twitter has censored my account and I cannot read anything on it unless someone sends an item I am able to open. Ellsberg broke the news first to friends and supporters, among them ConsortiumNews, and then decided to share it on his Twitter account after someone had leaked it. “I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live. Of course, they emphasize that everyone’s case is individual; it might be more, or less.”
[Related: Daniel Ellsberg’s Not Yet Goodbye]
In the letter, Ellsberg recounts his experiences during and since the Pentagon Papers period — the antiwar work, the work against nuclear weapons:
“When I coped the Pentagon papers in 1969, I had every reason to think I would be spending the rest of my life behind bars. It was a fate I would have gladly accepted if it meant hastening the end of the Vietnam War, unlikely as that seemed (and was). Yet in the end, that action — in ways I could not have foreseen, due to Nixon’s illegal responses — did have an impact on shortening the war.”
And, addressing all of us forthrightly:
“It is long past time—but not too late—for the world’s publics at last to challenge and resist the willed moral blindness of their past and current leaders. I will, as long as I am able, to help in these efforts….”