Review (DVD): The Most Dangerous Man in America–Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers

07 Other Atrocities, 09 Justice, 10 Security, 11 Society, 6 Star Special, Censorship & Denial of Access, Civil Society, Congress (Failure, Reform), Consciousness & Social IQ, Corruption, Corruption, Crime (Government), Cultural Intelligence, Culture, Research, Democracy, Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback, Executive (Partisan Failure, Reform), Government, History, Impeachment & Treason, Justice (Failure, Reform), Media, Methods & Process, Military, Military & Pentagon Power, Secrecy & Politics of Secrecy, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), Truth & Reconciliation, Values, Ethics, Sustainable Evolution
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly Relevant Today and Always

December 7, 2010

I completely missed the release of this film in July, and stumbled on it while picking movies for a sick son.

It opens with Henry Kissinger, since demonstrated to be a war criminal, calling Daniel Elsberg the most dangerous man in America, and lamenting the release of secret documents (that ultimately proved government perfidy). Fast forward to WikiLeaks as a sequel to the 935 documented lies led by Dick Cheney.

The Trial of Henry Kissinger
Weapons of Mass Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq

What comes across throughout this movie are a few persistent trends:
01 Grotesquely disproportionate commitment of resources
02 Routine lying to the public by those who knew better
03 Increasing doubts by McNamara, but loyalty prevailed over integrity
04 Confronting the reality that public service demands integrity
05 Elsberg describes his tutorial to Kissinger on the negative and deceptive impact of being flooded with secrets while considering everyone else to be uninformed when they are actually closer to the open truth
06 Mort Halperin appears multiple times.
07 Honest history does not support imperialism. America was wrong from the Geneva Accords onwards. Kennedy and Nixon both lied.

Moving concise coverage of how he was radicalized by seeing that the best of our young men were willing to go to prison with courage and integrity. This is what forced him to recognize that keeping silent as a witness to lies of public import led to his leaking the papers.

His own book, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is essential reading, and I have written a long detailed review of it.

Most fascinating to me was the agonizing decision of the New York Times about publishing the story in the public interest–the kicker was their realization that eventually it would be known that they had the chance to inform the public early on, and if they did not, it would be known they had blinked and NOT served the public.

Ultimately, in an era when the Supreme Court still had integrity, the Pentagon Papers yielded the single most important decision in favor of public knowledge, ruling that newspapers were supposed to serve the governed, not the government.

This entire movie is SO relevant to today’s WikiLeaks situation, I am raising it to 6 Star and Beyond at Phi Beta Iota the Public Intelligence Blog.

See Also:
None So Blind: A Personal Account of the Intelligence Failure in Vietnam
Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars

Other DVDs I recommend along with this one:
Why We Fight
The Fog of War – Eleven Lessons from the life of Robert S. McNamara
The Good Soldier
American Drug War: The Last White Hope
The U.S. vs. John Lennon

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