Daniel Ellsberg on the Constitutional Crisis


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

Pentagon Insider has dire warning

By Dr. Daniel Ellsberg

Global Research, November 19, 2007
American Free Press

Daniel Ellsberg, the former Defense Department analyst who leaked the secret 
Pentagon Papers history of the Vietnam War, offered insights into the looming 
attack on Iran and the loss of liberty in the United States at a recent American
University symposium. What follow are his comments from that speech. They have 
been edited only for space.

Let me simplify . . . and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke
up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It¹s 
not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9-11. That¹s the next 
coup that completes the first.

The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our 
Constitution . . . what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years 
as a model and experiment to the rest of the world‹in checks and balances, 
limited government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority 
infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of 

There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most 
of the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and
other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use
of CIA, FBI, NSA against Americans.

All these violations were impeachable had they been found out at the time but in
nearly every case the violations were not found out until [the president was] 
out of office so we didn¹t have the exact challenge that we have today.

That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and
others. They were impeachable. They weren¹t found out in time. But I think it 
was not their intention, in the crisis situations that they felt justified their
actions, to change our form of government.

It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out, 
that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had 
precisely that in mind since at least the early 1970s. Not just since 1992, not 
since 2001, but [they] have believed in executive government, single-branch 
government under an executive president‹elected or not‹with unrestrained powers.
They did not believe in restraint.

When I say this, I¹m not saying they are traitors. I don¹t think they have in 
mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power. 
I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they 
think is best for this country‹but what they think is best is directly and 
consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country [and the Framers of 
the Constitution] thought.

They believe we need a different kind of government now, an executive government
essentially, rule by decree, which is what we¹re getting with Œsigning 

Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of 
describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are 
just saying the president says: ŒI decide what I enforce. I decide what the law 
is. I legislate.¹

It¹s [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire 
control of the executive branch, essentially of the president‹a concentration of
legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely 
what the founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best 
of their ability in the Constitution.²

Now I¹m appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break 
in tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on 
this point the Founders had it right. It¹s not just Œour way of doing things¹‹ 
it was a crucial perception on the corruption of power to anybody, including 

On procedures and institutions that might possibly keep that power under control
because the alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like
Iraq, wars like the one coming.

That brings me to the second point. This executive branch, under specifically 
Bush and Cheney, despite opposition [even] from most of the rest of the branch, 
even of the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran, which, even by 
imperialist standards, [violates] standards in other words which were accepted 
not only by nearly everyone in the executive branch but most of the leaders in 

The interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our
need to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is 
consensual in our establishment. Š

But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that 
quietly, I don¹t mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it¹s not only 
aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime, 
but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.

Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn¹t; it doesn¹t even make it 

That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various 
reasons of the Congress‹Democrats and Republicans‹and the public and the media, 
we have freed the White House ‹ the president and the vice president‹from 
virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.

And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy. 
Not entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.

And the question is what then, can we do about this?

We are heading toward an insane operation. It is not certain. [But it] is 
likely.Š I want to try to be realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what 
we must do, what is needed to be done with the full recognition of the reality. 
Nothing is impossible.

What I¹m talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on 
Iran, is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is 
probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this 
administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.

And . . . we will not succeed in moving Congress, probably, and Congress 
probably will not stop the president from doing this. And that¹s where we¹re 
heading. That¹s a very ugly, ugly prospect.

However, I think it¹s up to us to work to increase that small, perhaps‹anyway 
not large‹possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15 months, 
aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.

Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long 
time. And I think if we don¹t get started now, it won¹t be started under the 
next administration.

Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further 
coup in the face of a 9-11, another attack, is for right now, it can¹t be put 
off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen 
very little.

We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who 
have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to 
a large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, Œtraitor,¹ 
Œweak on terrorism¹‹names that politicians will do anything to avoid being 

How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change
their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and 
Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can be
brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn¹t just doing their 
jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.

I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an 
official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a 
Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is the
same oath of office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the 
United States and every officer in the armed services.

And that oath is not to a commander in chief, which is not [even] mentioned. It 
is not to a Fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely 
to protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.

Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department 
without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being 
lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in 

I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I
was not obeying my oath, which I eventually came to do.

I¹ve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada‹who still faces trial for refusing to obey
orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an unconstitutional 
and aggressive war‹is the single officer in the United States armed services who
is taking seriously [the matter of] upholding his oath.

The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. [All the personnel] 
under him who understand what is going on ‹ and there are myriad ‹ are violating
their oaths. And that¹s the standard that I think we should be asking of people.

On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of
our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate‹and frankly of the Republicans 
‹that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to 
maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be speaker of the House 
and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.

I¹m not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that they 
should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that. Of 
course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but they¹re acting 
like it¹s their sole concern. Which is business as usual. ³We have a majority, 
let¹s not lose it, let¹s keep it. Let¹s keep those chairmanships.²

Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in 
the last couple of years?

I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read [about] in The Washington Post
who threatened a filibuster if we Š get back habeas corpus. The ruling out of 
habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George the 
First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of 

I think we¹ve got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the 
time for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth 
struggling for in part because it¹s only with the power that the Constitution 
gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world
from madmen in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.

And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this
will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves ‹they might be people who in 
their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere, 
like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relations with the
president to the slightest degree.

That has to change. And it¹s the example of people like those up here who 
somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens 
have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this
country and protect the world. Thank you.²

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of 
the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on 

To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on 
community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The 
source and the author's copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global 
Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, 
contact: •••@••.•••

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not 
always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such 
material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an 
effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social 
issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who 
have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational 
purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair 
use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: •••@••.•••

© Copyright Daniel Ellsberg, American Free Press, 2007

The url address of this article is: 

© Copyright 2005-2007 GlobalResearch.ca
Web site engine by Polygraphx Multimedia © Copyright 2005-2007

Posting archives: 

Escaping the Matrix website: http://escapingthematrix.org/
cyberjournal website: http://cyberjournal.org

How We the People can change the world:

Community Democracy Framework: 

Moderator: •••@••.•••  (comments welcome)