Daniel Ellsberg versus Donald Trump

The death today of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked 7000 pages of the classified ‘Pentagon Papers,’ comes at an interesting time as Trump now faces criminal indictment for hoarding and hiding his own trove of classified documents.

I say that Ellsberg was in the right and Trump is wrong. Double standard?

No at all. It comes down to a question of values and principles. I don’t see U.S. classified documents as inherently sacred. When he leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press, Ellsberg acted in the interest of the U.S. and international working class. The U.S. war effort in Vietnam was justified under completely fabricated pretexts that our government knew were lies, such as the “Gulf of Tonkin incident” cited by Lyndon Johnson as justification to expand the war.

Ellsberg acted to expose the lies behind the Vietnam War by revealing what the U.S. government was doing and saying internally. The war was devastating southeast Asia, killing soldiers and civilians, as well as killing thousands of U.S. soldiers — workers drafted from schools and factories and forced into uniform.

Trump’s possession of classified documents and national defense secrets is entirely different. He’s had no motive or intent beyond his own ego, self-gratification and possibly financial gain. This comes on the heels of his extraordinary multifaceted effort to overturn the 2020 election with fake electors, a violent assault on the Capitol, and much more. There’s nothing in Trump’s actions that serve the interests of working people like you and me.

Posted June 16, 2023

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