Schieffer Forgets Ellsberg In Sunday Snowden Slam

Time, July 5th, 1971. The "Battle Over the Right to Know", was just that—one battle in the ongoing war fought by the American people against their government. A few brave individuals, such as Daniel Ellsberg, have been all that have stood in the way of the "stasi" state, as Ellsberg calls it, completely destroying the liberties of US citizens.
Yesterday, a lot of people were passing along a critique of Edward Snowden, made by long-time Washington reporter, Bob Schieffer, who focused his Face the Nation commentary on Snowden and his moral character.

Particularly, Schieffer asked, is Edward Snowden a hero, like other Americans who have, as Schieffer said, "stood up to the government"—something Schieffer said he liked to see Americans do.

The CBS reporter then mentioned a couple of people he thought we should compare Edward Snowden to: Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks.

And Schieffer noted:
"I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China."
But, considering how those civil rights icons were treated in the USA, King of course was assassinated after being spied on by the FBI, if they had "run off", on what basis would any old white man blame them?

Schieffer concludes that Snowden's unwillingness to stay in the USA and face torture and permanent incarceration—no doubt in some hellhole supermax prison—means Snowden isn't a hero, but is instead:

"[J]ust a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us."

Now, this amateur psychological profiling of Snowden, which has made up so much of the pro-NSA fascist counterattack, is interesting, if you think about it in the context of the one person Schieffer should have named in his comparison list.

That would be Daniel Ellsberg.

Ellsberg's story sounds a lot like that of Edward Snowden.

Ellsberg was an intelligence analyst, with access to secret papers, called in the press the Pentagon Papers, that illustrated how the Vietnam war, which is to say the USA's much-expanded role in it, was perpetrated by the Johnson administration, which had systematically lied to the American people about the origin and the running of the war.

Richard Nixon, who was US president when the New York Times began publishing Ellsberg's revelations, was not happy with leaks or leakers, especially not when those leaks revealed to the American people just how dishonest and corrupt their government really was.

Nixon created a group in the White House called the Plumbers, whose job it was to stop leaks, and particularly to so punish Ellsberg personally, that no American would again dare risk doing what Ellsberg had done.

As Bob Schieffer explains in his book about his favorite stories as a CBS reporter, one of Nixon's Plumbers, ex-CIA operative Howard Hunt, devised a particular way to fix the Ellsberg problem:
“[Howard] Hunt wanted to ruin [Ellsberg] and drew up a detailed plan to smear him—a plan that included breaking into the office of Ellsberg's psychiatrist to collect whatever damaging information about Ellsberg might be found there. The plan was carried out, and the break-in occurred almost a year before Hunt supervised the now-infamous burglary of the Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.”
Yep, that's right. Nixon's leak-stopping crew were the same bunch of criminals who would help to bring down Tricky Dick by getting arrested at the Watergate breakin.

But, notice the tactic the Plumbers decided to employ against Ellsberg. They would attack his reputation, and they would do that by stealing and reporting private data about Ellsberg's mental health.

None of that had anything to do with refuting what was in the Pentagon Papers. It was pure vengeance, meant to punish a whistleblower who had broken his sacred oath to sit still and watch the republic burn.

And so egregious were the Nixon White House's actions against Ellsberg, that it wrecked the espionage case against the whistleblower. Instead, a US District judge threw out the government's case, "with prejudice", blocking the Justice Department from pursuing any future case against Ellsberg on the same charges. With Nixon's own situation crumbling over Watergate, his White House decided to let Ellsberg go without further effort at prosecution. At that point, Ellsberg declared legal war against Nixon and his Plumber gang, saying "[Nixon] has led a conspiracy to deprive us of our civil liberties."

When Daniel Ellsberg initially surrendered himself to authorities, to face charges that could have seen him locked away for life, he explained why he had blown the whistle on the government's lies.

First off, and this goes to that argument being made by the pro-NSA agents about Snowden failing to avail himself of "other means" to blow the whistle, Ellsberg explained that he had tried to work within the system, appearing before the United States Senate "in the fall of 1969", where Ellsberg "presented the Senate Foreign Relations Committee 'information contained in the so-called Pentagon papers."

The result of his private whistleblowing to Congress? Did the Senate inform the American people about the pervasive lying perpetrated against them by their government?

Of course not. That isn't how things work. Not then. Not now.

As Ellsberg explained (in an AP story, published June 28, 1971):
"[A]fter 9,000 more Americans had died [i.e., died in the Vietnam war since Ellsberg had testified before the Senate], I could only regret that I had not at that same time released that information to the American public. I have done so now. I took the action on my own initiative. I felt as an American citizen—as a responsible citizen—I could no longer cooperate with concealing this information from the American people. I am prepared for all consequences."
Now, what does Daniel Ellsberg, who is still alive, say about Edward Snowden and his actions in revealing the NSA spy programs?

Ellsberg's title to his blog article tells you everything you need to know about what he thinks:

"Edward Snowden: Saving Us from the United Stasi of America"

"Stasi" were the notorious secret police employed in communist East Germany.

Ellsberg concludes about Edward Snowden:
"Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect."
Does Ellsberg call Snowden a hero? No. And Snowden himself rejects that description about himself. What they both are is Americans who were in the right place at the right time, and who did the right thing. There is a reason these people are so rare.

As we see, whether it is Richard Nixon, or his successor to the imperial presidency, Barack Obama, the presidential perpetration of the awesome power of the state, which can disappear and extinguish any Winston Smith it wants to, generally intimidates people of insufficient moral courage (which is the vast majority of people).

Now it is time, really way past time, to stop talking about Edward Snowden, and where he belongs in the American hero pantheon. Now is the time to examine the contents of Snowden's revelations and to start assessing the quality of the government we have allowed to metastasize into a dire threat to the liberties of Americans and to the republic which is supposed to stand for them.

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