This gripping documentary about the Pentagon Papers and the events that led up to their release was an Academy Award Nominee and is currently playing at the Loft Theater.
For a seminar on the Constitution and the First Amendment in action, I highly recommend this searing expose of Daniel Ellsberg and how he elected to be a whistleblower by releasing top secret documents, 7000 pages in all, unveiling the blatant lies and deception of four presidents; Truman, Eisenhower Kennedy and Johnson, about our involvement in Vietnam and the well documented analysis of our very slim probability of winning. It is when this was known that is chilling. Ellsberg, who contributed to these strategic studies, knew that the lie would be perpetrated unless something drastic and dramatic was done. Enter the thriller that unveils the motives and machinations of our leaders. The recordings of Nixon, that I do not believe have heretofore been heard in context are going to make you cringe. When he refers to Vietnam as a, “shit-ass little country,” and urges Henry Kissinger to consider using nuclear weapons, you will gasp at the language and tone of a President of the United States. While Kissinger served Richard Nixon with ultimate loyalty, he did in fact comment during the 1968 campaign, “that man Nixon is not fit to be president” Did he know that was self fulfilling prophecy?
The trail of deception that was outlined in the Pentagon Papers, ultimately exposing the mental instability of Richard Nixon and his Cabinet is adroitly scripted is this documentary leaving the viewer with a full and rational understanding of the genesis of the Watergate Scandal and the only option Nixon had, which was resign or be impeached.
Nixon’s Cambodia policy, was the seal of his fate. By first bombing Cambodia without notifying Congress he enraged the members on the Hill who in turn repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on December 31,1970 stripping him of his unilateral power to conduct war. We have subsequently emasculated our Congressional representatives when it comes to the conduct of war.
To know with certainty, much coming from Robert McNamara, that we could not win, we went forth with the “Christmas Bombings,” dropping 100,000 bombs in 11 days, the tonnage being the equivalency of 8 Nagasaki’s, leaving the North Vietnamese with but a higher resolve. Ellsberg wanted to end the deceptions, and at 79 years old he is here to tell the tale, and it is a doozy.
Elsberg, a former Marine Company Commander, and a high-level Pentagon official and member of an elite think tank; the Rand Corporation, tells his tale of conscience driven decisions and the metamorphosis from a trusted and loyal insider to a pariah who was hunted by the FBI. After visiting the front lines in Vietnam and accompanying soldiers on patrol, even walking point with them, he returned with an outlook that veered far afield from his colleagues. President Nixon once tagged Ellsberg as, “the most dangerous man in America.” Ironic eh- given the outcome of Nixon’s presidency that met its demise with his obsession and paranoia that began with the vilification of Daniel Ellsberg?