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Who’s in charge?

Chalmers Johnson: The Addiction to Secrecy, 6 February 2003

Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers 
by Daniel Ellsberg.
Viking, 498 pp., $29.95, October 2002, 0 670 03030 9
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... The subject of Daniel Ellsberg’s memoir is the decadence of American democracy. The conditions he began fighting in 1969 are much worse today and far more dangerous to many more people. Yet central casting could not have produced a more perfect foil for the American imperial Presidency than Ellsberg ...


Glen Newey: Life with WikiLeaks, 6 January 2011

... humdrum diplomatic pillow talk, as well as low skulduggery, is fair game for disclosure. As with Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, or Deep Throat, leaking does a valuable wrecking job on governance by deceit. It got rid of Nixon. His fixers, Gordon Liddy and the White House Plumbers, set to work on ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: With the Hackerati, 19 August 2010

... has been happening in Afghanistan, and, second, that journalism may never be the same again. Daniel Ellsberg, who, once upon a time, released the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times, has been quick to see the WikiLeaks stuff as being bigger than anything. Back in June 1971, the documents revealed Johnson’s escalation of the war into Cambodia and ...

Julian Assange in Limbo

Patrick Cockburn, 18 June 2020

... provided deeper insight into the international workings of the US state than anything seen since Daniel Ellsberg gave the Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971. But today Ellsberg is celebrated as the patron saint of whistleblowers while Assange is locked in a cell in London’s Belmarsh maximum security prison for 23 ...

The President and the Bomb

Adam Shatz, 16 November 2017

... the US nuclear programme, throughout the Cold War, was to deter a Soviet attack, but according to Daniel Ellsberg in The Doomsday Machine, his forthcoming memoir of his time at the Defence Department and the Rand Corporation in the 1950s and 1960s, the actual purpose was to ensure that there could be no Soviet retaliation. In other words, US nuclear ...


Andrew O’Hagan: The Good Traitor, 25 September 2014

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State 
by Glenn Greenwald.
Hamish Hamilton, 259 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 0 241 14669 9
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... a First Amendment issue, and that the paper had a duty to present the material brought to it by Daniel Ellsberg, believing it would enlighten the public as to what the government was doing. Though an injunction was sought by the US attorney general, it was rejected by the judge, Murray Gurfein, who said, memorably, that ‘a cantankerous press, an ...

i could’ve sold to russia or china

Jeremy Harding: Bradley Manning, 19 July 2012

The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in US History 
by Chase Madar.
OR, 167 pp., £10, April 2012, 978 1 935928 53 9
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... fewer than half are classified. As classified files go, they pale by comparison with the papers Daniel Ellsberg leaked in the thick of the Vietnam War. Finally, there is a view in the administration that the leaks have not compromised national security. (The documents that make this case – one originating from the White House – are themselves ...

Paper this thing over

Colin Kidd: The Watergate Tapes, 5 November 2015

The Nixon Tapes: 1971-72 
by Douglas Brinkley and Luke Nichter.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 758 pp., $35, July 2014, 978 0 544 27415 0
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The Nixon Defence: What He Knew and When He Knew It 
by John W. Dean.
Penguin, 784 pp., £14.99, June 2015, 978 0 14 312738 3
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Washington Journal: Reporting Watergate and Richard Nixon’s Downfall 
by Elizabeth Drew.
Duckworth Overlook, 450 pp., £20, August 2014, 978 0 7156 4916 9
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Chasing Shadows: The Nixon Tapes, the Chennault Affair and the Origins of Watergate 
by Ken Hughes.
Virginia, 228 pp., $16.95, August 2015, 978 0 8139 3664 2
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The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan 
by Rick Perlstein.
Simon and Schuster, 860 pp., £25, August 2014, 978 1 4767 8241 6
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... been caught out frustrating Johnson’s peace initiative. When in 1971 the former security analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers – which set out high-level policymaking on Vietnam – Nixon became increasingly anxious about preserving his own secrets. He came to believe there was documentary evidence of his own perfidy in a file at ...

A Tiny Sun

Tom Stevenson: Getting the Bomb, 24 February 2022

The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War 
by Fred Kaplan.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £15, April 2021, 978 1 9821 0729 1
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The Myth of the Nuclear Revolution: Power Politics in the Atomic Age 
by Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press.
Cornell, 180 pp., £23.99, June 2020, 978 1 5017 4929 2
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... to build such a machine would be a great mistake.Kahn didn’t know it at the time, but as Daniel Ellsberg later revealed, the ‘doomsday machine’ was only a slight extension of US nuclear designs. While the RAND intellectuals were theorising, the military continued to work on actual nuclear war plans, the details of which were kept secret even ...

Blips on the Screen

Andrew Cockburn: Risk-Free Assassinations, 3 December 2020

The Drone Age: How Drone Technology Will Change War and Peace 
by Michael Boyle.
Oxford, 336 pp., £22.99, September, 978 0 19 063586 2
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Drone Art: The Everywhere War as Medium 
by Thomas Stubblefield.
California, 218 pp., £70, February, 978 0 520 33961 3
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Hellfire from Paradise Ranch: On the Front Lines of Drone Warfare 
by Joseba Zulaika.
California, 289 pp., £25, June, 978 0 520 32974 4
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The Kill Chain: Defending America in the Future of High-Tech Warfare 
by Christian Brose.
Hachette, 288 pp., £21, April, 978 0 316 53353 9
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... to south. The super-secret operation was ultimately revealed in the Pentagon Papers, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg. Even though it had proved to be a fiasco, the notion of a remote-control killing machine caught the public imagination, symbolising the soulless nature of the American war effort. One embittered veteran, Eric Herter, spoke eloquently at a ...

Nixon’s Greatest Moments

R.W. Johnson, 13 May 1993

Nixon: A Life 
by Jonathan Aitken.
Weidenfeld, 633 pp., £25, January 1993, 0 297 81259 9
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... his alleged ignorance, even Nixon accepted some responsibility for the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychoanalyst after Ellsberg had embarrassed the Administration with the leaking of the Pentagon Papers. Aitken thinks a comparison can be made between Nixon on Watergate and Henry II’s ‘Who will ...

Why the bastards wouldn’t stand and fight

Murray Sayle: Mao in Vietnam, 21 February 2002

China and the Vietnam Wars 1950-75 
by Qiang Zhai.
North Carolina, 304 pp., $49.95, April 2000, 0 8078 4842 5
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None so Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam 
by George Allen.
Ivan Dee, 296 pp., $27.50, October 2001, 1 56663 387 7
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No Peace, No Honour: Nixon, Kissinger and Betrayal in Vietnam 
by Larry Berman.
Free Press, 334 pp., $27.50, November 2001, 0 684 84968 2
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... more pacification of Vietminh strongholds in the South. US General John ‘Iron Mike’ O’Daniel instead drew up his own plan for a mobile force to attack the Vietminh in the North. With no great enthusiasm Navarre went along with it. Informed of what O’Daniel called the ‘Navarre Plan’ to win the war, Congress ...


Andrew O’Hagan: Julian Assange, 6 March 2014

... old time’s sake?’ ‘You’re joking.’ He said the third book was by his former colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg. ‘This will be a complete smear,’ he said. ‘The guy is working from hatred of us and he will seek to make it as damaging as possible.’ ‘Embarrassing or damaging?’ ‘Both probably. He has chatroom stuff ...

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