In the Loop

In the Loop: April 16, 2007 Archive

Ellsberg: King of the whistleblowers

Posted at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2007 by Jeff Horwich (1 Comments)

(Photo by Jeff Horwich/MPR)
This weekend I had the unique opportunity to go one-on-one with one of the most pivotal figures in recent American history. Daniel Ellsberg was in town, the house-guest of someone I had called up out of the blue just to float a few ideas about our upcoming show topic ("To Take A Stand" is what we're now calling it). He mentioned Ellsberg was flying in, and there might be a little gathering at his house in St. Paul. Perfect.

You'll have to wait for the show to hear the interview, but suffice it to say the 76-year-old Ellsberg sits squarely on top of our topic: how and why people decide to stick their neck out for something they believe in. Love or hate what he did, he put himself on the line for a cause, and in a big way, facing 115 years in prison for leaking the Pentagon Papers (and bringing a swifter end to the war in Vietnam). I suppose after all that it's not much, but he was gracious to grant me an interview after a long (and delayed) flight across the country and two hours greeting everyone who had shown up to see him.

The gathering (which was not small after all, but turned into a fundraiser with about a hundred people) was also a chance for me to learn a bit about a piece of Minnesota history which Ellsberg touched -- though not many people know it. It turns out the Pentagon Papers were very nearly leaked in a Minnesota courtroom, a few months before he eventually leaked them to the NYTimes. For now, you can read more about it here. I'll blog about that in more detail later this week...

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