When the Pentagon Papers affair splashed the government, the whole foundation of one of the pillar of the U.S. ideology, freedom, freedom of speech and information collapsed.
In 1975, an employee of the Pentagon revealed to the American Public the historical facts of the Vietnam war. The document, the United-States-Vietnam relations, 1945-1967 : A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, denounced the falsifications of the U.S. politico-military involvement in the Vietnam war.
Ellsberg, the leak of the affair was at the time in charge of writing factually whether the Vietnam war was humanly and budget wise viable.
When the affair exploded the president in power was Nixon.
What originally titillated my criticism was the presence in the equation of a man tormented in delivering the truth because the documents he possessed had the seal of classified “top secret”. An American citizen torn apart between being a patriot (to his nation, to the people) and being a betrayer to the eyes of the highest authority of the nation, the government. As he chooses his side, the truth, he will use the NY Times to be the medium of communication of his message, to divulge the truth.
In its article 1, section 6, the U.S. constitution brags (in its first amendment) “For any Speech or Debate in either house, [a Senator or Representative] shall not be questioned? in other place”. Consequently, Ellsberg sees in senators his legitimate voice to outcry publicly the truth that would be gagged by a treason trial by the government if exposed!
The opportunity of introducing the papers as congressional records would give the Senate omnipotence over the government.
It is interesting and revealing to know that none of the senators he encountered was willing to oppose the government in the name of the truth, at the light of the controversial content, and the classified “top secret” nature of the document! Which fear was undermining the senators at the moment? Wasn’t America a democracy?
Allegedly constitutional chambers, because of their multipartism are the organs that constitutionally oppose the executive from any outburst, abuse, that carries the legal power to counter-weigh absolutism.
Aware of Ellsberg’s move (to the NY Times), the government tried unsuccessfully to cease the publication by a federal court injunction, that escalated to the Supreme Court in a challenging trial “NY Times v. United-States”.
By? the failure of the government? to demonstrate the “burden of proof”, by proving the unconstitutional behaviors of successive presidencies and their violation of their oaths,? Ellsberg was absolved and gained the U.S. public support.
In an authoritarian society, the first move implemented by the dictatorial regime is to shut down the freedom of press, so as to be adequate to the highest sphere thinking. By suppressing one fundamental right instituted by the constitution, the government alters and redefines the constitutionality and the constituency of the former democracy.
Installed by a democratic majority “by the people” to represent its interests, the executive branch definitely disconnects itself from its constituents “for the people” while striving against the right of information.
By suing the NY Times, the U.S. government dissociated itself as an individual entity to the rest of the nation. In standing in the way of any constituent by illegitimating his belonging to the same group of people, by denying his identity (as an American) by identifying him as a “treater”, the government rejects the ability of any being to think individually, to exert one’s freedom of speech.
According to the NY Times, the Pentagon Papers were “historical” documents stating by this allegation as being part of the American history, heritage, culture, therefore a part of you, the people.
By hiding national documents, by not allowing the people to access “Top Secret” documents in formatting them as archives sleeping for at least a quarter of a century, the government assesses itself as an independent cell. As a result, why wouldn’t Ellsberg, X, Y, Z when truth matters be others independent cells living and evolving in the same environment (same nation)?
The time has come where the “territorial” government and the people unit as one! The move belongs to the government!