Daniel Ellsberg
Daniel Ellsberg

In a campus talk March 8, Daniel Ellsberg — who in 1971 released the top-secret Pentagon Papers detailing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War — defended the Army intelligence analyst charged with releasing secret military logs and State Department cables to WikiLeaks.

“I identify very much with [Pfc.] Bradley Manning,” Ellsberg told a capacity audience in Dodds Auditorium. “Despite the stress of his position, he did the right thing.”

Ellsberg offered his views in a conversation with journalist Bart Gellman ’82, a Woodrow Wilson School visiting lecturer. Gellman pointed out that ­WikiLeaks has been criticized for indiscriminately providing information that endangered covert operatives and fueled terrorist operations. But Ellsberg defended Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, as merely playing the role of a publisher. Ellsberg said he does not agree with all of Assange’s methods, but said there is no evidence of harm to individuals as a result of the documents’ release. 

Noting the Obama administration’s crackdown on government leaks, Ellsberg predicted that Congress would pass an Official Secrets Act if the Supreme Court overturns recent prosecutions.

Video courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson School