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IPFS News Link • Whistleblowers

Daniel Ellsberg, the original whistleblower, on transparency, politics, and civilization's...

•, by Paul DeMerritt

For a man who once faced life in prison, Daniel Ellsberg has a surprisingly good sense of humor. Right now the 83-year-old whistleblower is unwinding after a packed lecture at Georgia State University by chatting with his wife over the phone. Earlier in the lecture, in a rare moment of humanizing folly, Ellsberg accidentally answered his wife's phone call and her greeting of 'Hi, Darling!' was broadcasted to a packed audience. "I think I was a little funny afterwards, fortunately you didn't say 'hey, shithead!' or something like that," he jokes to his wife.

His hotel room resembles the backseat of a college freshman's car. Miscellaneous papers, binders, magazines, and books litter his room as if a tornado had just passed through. Ellsberg appears stressed as his wife tries to get his passport in order for his upcoming trip to Russia where he hopes to meet with whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Ellsberg's release of a massive, 7,000-page cache of classified documents known as the Pentagon Papers showed the extent to which the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations deceived the public about the Vietnam War. At the time of his trial in 1973, Ellsberg was certain he would be convicted. Now, American history has smiled on Ellsberg, but many in the current administration have condemned his successors such as Snowden and Chelsea Manning.