Ernest Gruening '06, former U.S. Senator from Alaska, said last night that Daniel Ellsberg '52 "should be given the equivalent of a Congressional medal of honor" for releasing the Pentagon Papers to the press.
Ellsberg "exposed the deception...of elected public servants" who "lied the American people into this war," Gruening said. "He has done no harm to the United States--only unmitigated good."
Gruening and Noam Chomsky, professor of Linguistics at MIT, defended Ellsberg during the taping of The Advocates, a weekly series on WGBH--TV. The segment will be televised on Channel 2 at 8:30 p.m. next Tuesday.
Chomsky argued that it was Ellsberg's "moral duty" to reveal the U.S. government's "criminal conspiracy operating in secret to enmesh us in a war of aggression."
On the other side, Leo Cherne, director of the Research Institute of America and chairman of the Executive Committee of Freedom House, said that the only person in U.S. history who was as "monumentally indifferent to the process of law" as Ellsberg was the late Senator Joseph McCarthy.
Public access to the history of American involvement in Vietnam, Cherne argued, could stir "primitive polar passions" and engulf the U.S. in another McCarthy era.
Elbridge Durbrow, U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam from 1957 to 1961, agreed that release of the Pentagon papers has had a bad effect on the American people, who are now "more confused than ever."
Durbrow, who said he had spent "almost 40 years in the diplomatic business," added that he supported Thailand's bombing of Vietnam because it was done "for freedom," and "I'm all for freedom."
"If you can get the Thais to bomb," Durbrow said later, "so much the better for the American people."
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