Daniel Ellsberg (pictured in the 70s), the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1969 has now revealed how close America is to a nuclear Armageddon
The man who leaked the Pentagon Papers that exposed government lies in 1969 has now revealed how close America is to a nuclear Armageddon.
Daniel Ellsberg’s 7,000-page report was the WikiLeaks disclosure of its time, a sensational breach of government confidentiality that shook Richard Nixon’s presidency and prompted a Supreme Court fight that advanced press freedom.
Now Ellsberg, 86, is back to warn America that a nuclear Armageddon may be on the horizon in his new book The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner.
‘All out-nuclear war — an irreversible, unprecedented and almost unimaginable calamity for civilization and most life on earth — has been, like the disasters of Chernobyl, Katrina, the Gulf oil spill, Fukushima Daiichi, and before these, World War I, a catastrophe waiting to happen, on a scale infinitely greater than any of these,’ writes Ellsberg in his new book.
North Korea is trying to build a nuclear arsenal capable of attacking the US. This has heightened fears about Armageddon.
The North has also released maps of its targets, as exemplified by the infamous photo, published in March 2013, that shows Kim Jong-un with a target map corresponding to cities and bases in the US mainland.
Last month, President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a designation that allows the US to impose more sanctions and risks inflaming tension over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.
North Korea then denounced Trump’s decision to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism, calling the move a ‘serious provocation and violent infringement’.
In November, a report by the think-tank European Commission of Foreign Relations revealed a list of 15 North Korean targets.
Ellsberg’s 7,000-page report was the WikiLeaks disclosure of its time, a sensational breach of government confidentiality. Now Ellsberg (pictured in 2015), 86, is back to warn America that a nuclear Armageddon may be on the horizon in his new book
North Korea is trying to build a nuclear arsenal capable of attacking the US. This has heightened fears about Armageddon. Last month, President Donald Trump put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism
Manhattan, Guam, Kyoto and Tokyo are all earmarked by the North.
However, the report claims the nuclear threat carried by North Korea is a preemptive one, meaning Kim Jong-un would only launch nuclear war if he thought his nation was in danger.
But Ellsberg believes nuclear bombs can be triggered on a false alarm.
Nuclear bombs ‘are susceptible to being triggered on a false alarm, a terrorist action, unauthorized launch or a desperate decision to escalate,’ Ellsberg wrote.
‘They would kill billions of humans, perhaps ending complex life on earth. This is true even though the Cold War that rationalized their existence and hair-trigger status — and their supposed necessity to national security — ended 30 years ago.’
Many US citizens believe that only Trump can order the use of nuclear weapons. But Trump isn’t the only military commander authorized to launch nuclear weapons, according to the New York Post.
Lower-level military commanders can act on their own if the US comes under attack and the president can’t respond in time.
‘There has to be delegation of authority and capability to launch retaliatory strikes, not only to officials outside the Oval Office but outside Washington too,’ Ellsberg wrote.
According to Ellsberg, the US nuclear plans at the time provided for all-out war.
For example, if the Soviet Union launched nuclear bombs against the US, American military officials would strike both the Soviet Union and China, because of an assumption the two countries were allies who would fight together.
A Marine general briefed on the plan at a government meeting in 1960 said it was immoral to kill 300 million Chinese in a war they did not start, according to the Post. But the plan stood.
‘It was my passion to change it,’ Ellsberg writes.
And Ellsberg did help write a new plan that allowed for the possibility of a more limited nuclear war during the Kennedy administration.
Ellsberg believes nuclear bombs can be triggered on a false alarm. Nuclear bombs ‘are susceptible to being triggered on a false alarm, a terrorist action, unauthorized launch or a desperate decision to escalate,’ he wrote
The US also adopted ‘fail-safe’ systems that allow the president to recall nuclear bombers in the event the White House wants to cancel a strike order.
But a president could mistakenly launch as many as 800 weapons in less than 10 minutes, according to the Arms Control Association.
And those warheads on missiles can not be called back.
Trump has added to the fear in the past few months with his rhetoric on Twitter and during press conferences.
He called Jong-un ‘Little Rocket Man’ and threatened publicly to ‘totally destroy’ his country if he makes a menacing move toward American allies, including South Korea and Japan, during a press conference in November.
Before that, in August, Trump said North Korea ‘had best not make any more threats to the United States’ or ‘they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen’.
However, US generals have said that in a crisis, they will not obey illegal orders from Trump.
The US has about 4,000 nuclear warheads deployed or ready to deploy, and Russia as about 4,500. Other nuclear-armed countries have a total of around 1,100 to 1,200 nuclear weapons.
‘The risk that one city will be destroyed by a single (perhaps terrorist) weapon in the next year or the next decade cannot, unfortunately, be reduced to zero,’ Ellsberg writes.
‘But the danger of near-extinction of humanity — a continuous possibility for the past 65 years — can be reduced to zero by dismantlement of most existing weapons in both the United States and Russia.’
The Pentagon Papers were prepared near the end of Lyndon Johnson’s term by the Defense Department and private foreign policy analysts, and was leaked primarily by Ellsberg, in a brash act of defiance that stands as one of the most dramatic episodes of whistleblowing in US history.
At the time, Ellsberg, who is a former Marine, gave secret government documents about the Vietnam War to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
While working at Rand, Ellsberg (left and right in the 1970s) secretly photocopied the documents and released them to the New York Times, which published the first in its series of stories about the findings on June 13, 1971
Those documents showed that the Johnson, Kennedy and prior administrations had been escalating the conflict in Vietnam while misleading Congress, the public and allies.
His leak to the newspapers also serves as the plot of the upcoming movie, The Post, which stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks.
Ellsberg was a protege of Nixon adviser Henry Kissinger, who called the young man his most brilliant student. Ellsberg served the administration as an analyst, tied to the Rand Corporation.
While working at Rand, Ellsberg secretly photocopied the project’s documents and released them to the Times, which published the first in its series of stories about the findings on June 13, 1971.
He also copied thousands more, but decided it was a bad idea to leak both sets of documents at once.
Ellsberg then gave the nuclear papers to his brother for safekeeping after releasing the papers on the Vietnam war.
His brother buried the documents in an escarpment at the Hastings-on-Hudson town dump, but after a tropical storm swept through the area in August 1971, the papers were lost.
Ellsberg was arrested on charges of conspiracy, espionage and theft of government property.
But in 1973, the charges were dropped against him after Nixon’s White House used illegal means to punish Ellsberg, including burglarizing his psychiatrist’s office in search of blackmail material.
Had those charges not been dismissed, Ellsberg would have served time in priosn for decades.