Daniel Ellsberg and Drones

For those who remember the Pentagon Papers, documents that showed the unconscionable behavior of the United States government in pursuit of the Vietnam war, the name of Daniel Ellsberg is familiar and, indeed, revered. An employee of the Rand Corporation, he acquired these documents in the course of his employment and decided to take the unprecedented step of releasing these damning reports to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers. Ellsberg was the first, and in many respects the bravest, of a long list of whistleblowers against our national government.

As a society, we decided, through our elected representatives, to protect whistleblowers in the everyday world, codifying a number of protections for them because they were performing a public good. The only exception to this act would be items that affected our national security. And there’s the rub, for the most heinous acts being perpetrated in our country are being done in our name covertly and without any oversight whatsoever. The list of whistleblowers about our serious misbehavior include, but aren’t limited to, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Chelsea Manning, Assange is currently in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London where he is being saved from arrest by the British government on warrants for his arrest. Snowden is in Moscow where he is allegedly in talks with the US government about terms for his return to the United States. Manning is in prison for a term of 35 years for her involvement in releasing papers about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is a new, unnamed hero in this long line of Americans brave enough to take on the government. This individual has released a number of papers, reports and other documents related to the drone wars now being pursued by the government. The use of drones has been much bruited about in the liberal media as a questionable method for removing our enemies in the “War on Terror.” Now, because of this brave individual, we have the information necessary to discuss this subject intelligently and critically. The brave souls at The Intercept have studied this material and written comprehensive and excellent reports on the unethical and idiotic decisions made with regards to targeting individuals and in naming all otherwise unidentified dead as enemy targets. The individuals targeted may have been victims of misinformation campaigns, and the civilian dead as innocent as your average school kid, but the way they are discussed in these documents will turn your blood cold. The military speech patterns would be humorous were they not so callous and horrifying.

I try to avoid being overly political in this blog (pace Bernie Sanders) but when my government does something in my name that is dishonorable and even evil, I will be heard. I hope this whistleblower retains his/her anonymity as the disclosure of this information is undoubtedly a violation of some law. Our government has shown a lack of appreciation for these whistleblowers that is disproportionate with the people’s right to know. In this most transparent presidency, the response to these disclosures has been amazingly insensitive, given that the protests against the government’s behavior have been based on constitutional provisions and simple morality.

Innocent men, women, and children have died as a result of the U.S. drone program, without any acknowledgment that they died in vain and needlessly when other options for the attack existed and the basis for the attack was questionable at best. Doubt me on that? Go to The Intercept and read it for yourself. Make up your own mind. I suspect you will join me in wishing the best for this anonymous whisteblower.

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