By Richard Pollock
Daniel Ellsberg, who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, told a nostalgic anti-war gathering in Washington, D.C., Tuesday “we may be weeks away” from President Barack Obama “furtively” sending new U.S. “combat units” to Iraq.
“As we talk, we may be weeks away from Marines being sent as units into combat in Iraq,” he said in a videotaped message before an assembly of anti-war activists who participated in the 1971 May Day civil disobedience protests that led to 12,000 arrests in the nation’s capital.
“Right now, Marines are being furtively being sent into combat in Iraq in a hopeless operation as before,” he said, adding that like the early days in Vietnam, there will be “gradually advisors calling in ‘air support.’”
Ellsberg, who turned 85 April 7, also predicted the war in Iraq will escalate if former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or a Republican enters the White House.
“I believe that (an escalation) is going to happen, all the more if there’s going to be a Republican President. But I think that Hillary is as likely to do that as a Republican.”
Obama announced April 25 the deployment of an additional 250 troops, mainly Army Green Berets, to augment 50 Special Operations forces already advising Iraqi forces in Iraq.
“I’ve decided to increase US support for local forces fighting ISIL in Syria … I’ve approved the deployment of up to 250 US personnel in Syria, including special forces,” Obama said after a meeting in Hanover, Germany, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Ellsberg has been a staunch critic of U.S. foreign policy since he disobeyed the Department of Defense and gave the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971.
The tens of thousands of pages constituted an “internal” official history of the Vietnam War prepared for Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.
Ellsberg gave a full unauthorized copy of the document to the New York Times and to The Washington Post. The papers had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court to get a decision upholding their First Amendment right to publish the document. The High Court denied the government the right of pre-publication censorship.
Ellsberg was a hero to the anti-war activists meeting to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the 1971 May Day protests.
The May Day organizers declared that “if the government doesn’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.” They almost succeeded.
About 20,000 protesters descended on Washington, D.C. in repeated acts of nonviolent civil disobedience to block traffic in the streets around the nation’s capital in small, mobile “affinity groups.” Eventually 12,000 protesters were arrested by police.
Ellsberg disclosed to the anti-war group Tuesday he personally organized an “affinity group” to block traffic and was joined by fellow leftist activists Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn.
Both Chomsky and Zinn have published multiple scathing books and articles of U.S. foreign and domestic policy.
Ellsberg also was critical of Secretary of State John Kerry in the video. He told the group Kerry delivered “a stirring talk” before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the war in Vietnam.
But he caused howls of laughter and applause from the anti-war group when he said Kerry was a “good guy — in those days.”
The interview with Ellsberg was conducted by Judy Gumbo, a former Yippie and anti-war activist.