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Daniel Ellsberg and the CIA

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[5] [6]COMMENT: With the major motion pic­ture “The Post” gar­ner­ing atten­tion and acco­lades, and with CIA asso­ciate Daniel Ells­berg (of Pen­ta­gon Papers fame) tour­ing to flog his new book, we felt it appro­pri­ate to fill in some blanks about Ells­berg. (Ells­berg leaked the Pen­ta­gon Papers, which were then pub­li­cized by The New York Times [7], as well as The [8] Wash­ing­ton [9]  Post [10], both very close­ly linked to the CIA.)

As dis­cussed in FTR #978 [11], among oth­er pro­grams, we not­ed that the Pen­ta­gon Papers were them­selves “sec­ond-lev­el” cov­er-up, false­ly main­tain­ing that there was con­ti­nu­ity from the Kennedy admin­is­tra­tion to the John­son admin­is­tra­tion with regard to Viet­nam war pol­i­cy.

Dou­glas Valen­tine has writ­ten exten­sive­ly about the U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment. Best known for his sem­i­nal work on the Phoenix pro­gram in Viet­nam, he has recent­ly pub­lished The CIA as Orga­nized Crime [12].

In his recent vol­ume, Valen­tine notes Daniel Ells­berg’s long-stand­ing links to the CIA and the inability/unwillingness of what he calls “The Com­pat­i­ble Left” to talk about St. Ells­berg’s con­nec­tions to Lan­g­ley.

This under­scores why Mr. Emory has, for so long, referred to the “so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor.” [13]

1.   The CIA as Orga­nized Crime [12]by Dou­glas Valen­tine; Clar­i­ty Press [SC]; Copy­right 2017 by Dou­glas Valen­tine; ISBN 978–0‑9972870–2‑8; pp. 31–32. [12]

 . . . . Peter Dale Scott had also been mar­gin­al­ized as a result of his 1972 book, The War Con­spir­a­cy, and his 1993 book Deep Pol­i­tics and the Death of JFK. Peter sup­port­ed me, and a few years after the Phoenix book was pub­lished, I men­tioned to him that I was writ­ing an arti­cle, based on my inter­views with Scot­ton and Conein, about Ells­berg’s deep polit­i­cal asso­ci­a­tion with the CIA. Peter is Ells­berg’s friend, and even though the arti­cle had the poten­tial to embar­rass Ells­berg, he arranged for me to inter­view him. Peter gave me Ells­berg’s num­ber and I called at a pre-arranged time. And the first thing Ells­berg said to me was, “You can’t pos­si­bly under­stand me because you’re not a celebri­ty.” . . . .

2.   The CIA as Orga­nized Crime by Dou­glas Valen­tine; Clar­i­ty Press [SC]; Copy­right 2017 by Dou­glas Valen­tine; ISBN 978–0‑9972870–2‑8; pp. 32–33. [12]

 . . . . I expe­ri­enced the same thing [mar­gin­al­iza­tion by what Mr. Emory calls “the so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor”] when I wrote my arti­cle about Ells­berg. No one on the Amer­i­can left would pub­lish it. Even­tu­al­ly, Robin Ram­say pub­lished it in Lob­ster mag­a­zine in Great Britain. The arti­cle was titled “The Clash of the Icons” and demon­strat­ed that Ells­berg and Al McCoy [the author of The Pol­i­tics of Hero­in in South­east Asia—D.E.] held con­tra­dic­to­ry posi­tions about the CIA’s rela­tion­ship with drug traf­fick­ers in Viet­nam.” McCoy accused CIA offi­cers Ed Lans­dale and Lou Conein of col­lab­o­rat­ing with Cor­si­can drug smug­glers in 1965, at the same time Ells­berg was work­ing close­ly with them. But when I inter­viewed him, Ells­berg insist­ed that these CIA offi­cers were not involved in the drug traf­fic, despite over­whelm­ing evi­dence to the con­trary. . . .

3.   T [12]he CIA as Orga­nized Crime by Dou­glas Valen­tine; Clar­i­ty Press [SC]; Copy­right 2017 by Dou­glas Valen­tine; ISBN 978–0‑9972870–2‑8;p. 33. [12]

 . . . . Main­tain­ing Ells­berg’s image is most­ly a busi­ness deci­sion, because Ells­berg is what the Mafia calls “a mon­ey-mak­er.” If one of these Com­pat­i­ble Left media out­lets has Ells­berg talk at a peace con­fer­ence it’s spon­sor­ing, a hun­dred fans will pay cash to see him. The Com­pat­i­ble Left is a busi­ness ven­ture that’s depen­dent on the cap­i­tal­ist soci­ety with­in which it oper­ates. At the same time, Ells­berg is a sym­bol of the illu­sion that change is pos­si­ble with­in the sys­tem. He calls for reform, yes, and like the Com­pat­i­ble Left, he backs many impor­tant pro­gres­sive pro­grams. But more impor­tant­ly, by  cov­er­ing up his own CIA con­nec­tions, he’s reas­sur­ing the bour­geoisie that sub­scribes to these media out­lets that every­thing they assume about their lead­ers is right. And that’s how sym­bol­ic heroes mis­lead the way. . . .

4.   T [12]he CIA as Orga­nized Crime by Dou­glas Valen­tine; Clar­i­ty Press [SC]; Copy­right 2017 by Dou­glas Valen­tine; ISBN 978–0‑9972870–2‑8; pp. 33–34. [12]

 . . . . But there are no heroes, and sys­tem does­n’t work for every­one, like it rewards Amy Good­man at Democ­ra­cy Now! [13] Or like it rewards [Glenn] Green­wald and [Jere­my] Scahill [of Pierre Omid­yar’s Inter­cept].

If Ells­berg were to reveal the CIA’s secrets, he would no longer have the same reas­sur­ing effect on the lib­er­al bour­geoisie. So his spon­sors nev­er men­tion that he had an affair with the mis­tress of a Cor­si­can drug smug­gler in Saigon. That’s not in the book or the movie. He denies his CIA bud­dies were involved in the drug trade, even though they were. He won’t talk about the CIA war crimes he wit­nessed or the con­tra­dic­tions of cap­i­tal­ism. . . .