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Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, says Trump is an enemy of the Constitution

"As president, he has assaulted not only the First Amendment but also virtually every other aspect and institution of our country that preserves us as a republic," he said.

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, says Trump is an enemy of the Constitution
Cover Image Source: (L)Daniel Ellsberg on August 7, 2010, in East Hampton, New York. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images) (R)Donald Trump on October 4, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. (Tia Dufour/The White House via Getty Images)

Daniel Ellsberg, political activist and former United States military analyst, became one of the best-known opponents of the Vietnam War in 1971 when he leaked the Pentagon Papers in the hope that they would help end the war. The Nixon administration in the 70s called him "the most dangerous man in America" for handing out copies of a 7000 page, top-secret Defense Department study of the war to the press, which — according to The New York Post — demonstrated "that four administrations progressively developed a sense of commitment to a non‐Communist Vietnam, a readiness to fight the North to protect the South, and an ultimate frustration with this effort,  to a much greater extent than their public statements acknowledged at the time."

Cover Image Source: American author Daniel Ellsberg, publisher of 'The Pentagon Papers,' speaks at a press conference, the 1970s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ellsberg faced 115 years in prison for his actions which went on to inspire fellow whistleblower Edward Snowden to leak secret NSA documents, showing the scale of government mass surveillance. Nearly five decades since the now 89-year-old risked everything to bring the truth to the American public, he is now once again raising his voice against a U.S. president. In an op-ed published this week in the Detroit Metro Times, Ellsberg strongly condemned President Donald Trump and stressed the importance of avoiding a second term of the Trump administration.


"For almost four years, I’ve been very worried — ashamed and dismayed, really — that my country allowed Donald Trump to be president. It’s now of transcendent importance to prevent him from gaining a second term," he wrote. "Michigan is my home state. I attended public grade school in Highland Park and was a scholarship student in high school in Bloomfield Hills. I’m sorry that Michigan went for Donald Trump last time. It must not happen again." Ellsberg went on to endorse the Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden while admitting that he is doing so despite having disagreed with the former Vice President in the past.


"I’m urging people to vote for Joe Biden. As a progressive, I've certainly disagreed with him on many issues in the past. In fact, he was low on my list of preferences among the Democratic candidates. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary, as I did in 2016," he wrote. "Now, I’m in fullest agreement with Sanders and other progressive leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as they urge us to support Biden to defeat Donald Trump, not only with our own votes but with our efforts to persuade others to do so."


Ellsberg explained that while "progressives would need to be persistent from the very beginning in challenging and opposing many of the things" Biden might propose as President if elected, "for now, the imperative need is to free the nation from Trump’s unhinged and destructive grip. That is our opportunity as citizens, and we must not fail it." He noted that Biden has shown an incentive to take into consideration others' concerns and accordingly change his stance on important issues like climate change while "the current president is doing everything he can to maximize fossil-fuel emissions while eliminating regulations that would reduce them."


"There’s no doubt that the present course is self-destructive, for humans and the planet we depend on for life. The world of human civilization cannot afford another four years of Trump’s presidency," he warned. "That alone is sufficient reason to do whatever we can to remove Trump from the White House. Hundreds of thousands of avoidable deaths resulting from his pandemic negligence are another. But there are at least two more sufficient reasons for the urgency of our efforts to do this. What must also stop is his encouragement of emotions and activism of white supremacy from the Oval Office. Trump’s refusal to disavow flagrant racism has underscored his own reliance on it for political support."


The economist also cited the president's attempts to cast unwarranted doubt on the validity of mail-in ballots and spark concerns of whether he would peacefully leave office if Biden emerges victorious. "I took an oath as a Marine, and later the same oath in the Defense Department and the State Department. It is an oath to defend and support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign, and domestic," wrote Ellsberg. "I now see Donald J. Trump as a domestic enemy of the Constitution, in the sense of that oath. As president, he has assaulted not only the First Amendment but also virtually every other aspect and institution of our country that preserves us as a republic."


The Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers author concluded his op-ed by urging readers to remove Donald Trump from the presidency. "Whatever reservations you might have about Joe Biden," he wrote, "the fact remains that his victory over Trump would mean that our country will have dodged a bullet — preventing the destruction of our Constitution as a functional document and averting irreversible damage to human civilization in the next four years."

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