Ellsberg Says Secrecy Annuls Concept of Popular Sovereignty
Daniel Ellsberg '52 said last night at a Law School Forum that there is "no adequate set of alternatives to protect the public from immoral misconduct of high officials."
Ellsberg told a crowd of about 350 persons that the executive branch, when given the power to keep things secret, "will abuse and lie to the public, and essentially draw away any meaning from the concept of popular sovereignty."
Ellsberg, speaking in Sanders Theatre, condemned the president for his entourage of "yes-men," who, he said, were willing to "do anything, no matter how illegal."
"Their duty was in every case to keep information secret, and the only place they drew the line was when confronted with the possibility of immediate indictment," Ellsberg said.
Ellsberg also said last night that the executive branch must provide the public the information it needs. We must make our governmental officials "servants of the public, not tyrants," he said.
Throughout his discussion, Ellsberg emphasized the part of Harvard graduates in the determination of bombing plans in Vietnam. He cited former president John F. Kennedy '40, Robert McNamara '33, and William P. Bundy '40.
Ellsberg also admitted to the audience that he was in possession of material in 1965-66 that showed that "McNamara lied" and that certain officials planned actions which were not divulged to the public.
"Every one of the major advisors [to Lyndon B. Johnson] had been planning the precise recommendations that Sen. Barry Goldwater had made public," Ellsberg said "The government officials planned to carry these actions into effect shortly after election."
"I recognized that the bombing proposals were immoral then," Ellsberg said. "But I still didn't step outside the rules."
Ellsberg also pointed out the number of Nixon's men guilty of perpetrating illegalities in order to maintain secrecy around the Oval Office.