When Sibel Edmonds,the young Turkish-American translator hired by the FBI in the days immediately following 911, was blocked first by the 911 commission,then Congress, and finally by the courts, from telling what she had seen inside the FBI—the incompetence, petty intra-bureau dealngs,security breaches,along with hints that Islamic terrorists might well be intertwined with money laundering and drug dealing—one of the first people who came to Washington to defend her was Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame.
And it was Ellsberg, who casting an eye back to the early days of John F. Kennedy’s presidency, could talk with the depth of knowledge and certainty about how government took every means possible to hide the details of its secret dealings,in his case,the Vietnam war. He never suggested Edmonds should break the law by speaking out despite the court gags, but his example proved a steadying force among the whistleblowers of the intelligence community who began to come forward. If Ellsberg could do it, they could do it.
Now, Truthdig.com is running his online memoirs of the government’s secret plans in those days that so many people have forgotten or ignored,events that took place when they were children, or not yet born.They remind me of those days in World War II when as children, we scarcely knew what was taking place around us.
Here is but one terrifying snippet from Ellsberg’s writings:
One day in the spring of 1961, soon after my 30th birthday, I was shown how our world would end. Not the Earth, not—so far as I knew then—all humanity or life, but the destruction of most cities and people in the Northern Hemisphere.
What I was handed, in a White House office, was a single sheet of paper with some numbers and lines on it. It was headed “Top Secret—Sensitive”; under that, “For the President’s Eyes Only.” ….
The deputy assistant to the president for national security, my friend and colleague Bob Komer, showed it to me. A cover sheet identified it as the answer to a question President John F. Kennedy had addressed to the Joint Chiefs of Staff a week earlier. Komer showed it to me because I had drafted the question, which Komer had sent in the president’s name.
The question to the JCS was: “If your plans for general [nuclear] war are carried out as planned, how many people will be killed in the Soviet Union and China?”
Their answer was in the form of a graph.The vertical axis was the number of deaths, in millions. The horizontal axis was time, indicated in months. The graph was a straight line, starting at time zero on the horizontal—on the vertical axis, the number of immediate deaths expected within hours of our attack—and slanting upward to a maximum at six months, an arbitrary cutoff for the deaths that would accumulate over time from initial injuries and from fallout radiation.
The lowest number, at the left of the graph, was 275 million deaths. The number at the right-hand side, at six months, was 325 million.
The online book will recount highlights of his six years of research and consulting for the Departments of Defense and State and the White House on issues of nuclear command and control, nuclear war planning and nuclear crises. It further draws on 34 subsequent years of research and activism largely on nuclear policy, which followed the intervening 11 years of his preoccupation with the Vietnam War. Subsequent installments also will appear on Truthdig. The author is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.