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The Daniel Ellsberg interview

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I'm sure you had a mixed reaction from the public when you released information, and we've seen that before.

Yes. It was a mix between "patriot" and "traitor." I didn't think I was a traitor and I'm not anymore of a traitor that Edward Snowden is, or Chelsea Manning, but they're called 'traitor' too. There are people who think the president's secrets should be kept no matter how dangerous or crazy or criminal his actions might be. There are people that say 'well, if he decides to do it, then that's the president's (choice).' But that's not a very democratic frame of mind, but frankly, there are a lot of Americans who've never felt very strongly about living in a democracy. A third of the country supported staying in the British Empire at the time of the Revolution. Another third, according to John Adams, were indifferent. So that's two thirds who didn't feel very strongly about fighting for the republic.

You have a lot of people right now who are willing to live under a king, as we essentially do. We have an elected king, and it's not a good system. It's not the system the founders had in mind. And, the ability to go to war without Congress is not what they had in mind. That's now been done by a number of our presidents, and Trump certainly feels he has that capability.

Talking about the president and other administrations, when Obama came into office, he said he was going to have increased transparency and have a little more enlightened administration.

He went in the opposite direction.

Now with Trump in office saying he wants to crack down on leakers.

I've talked to people very high in the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and in the journalistic field who are certain that with (Jeff) Sessions as Attorney General will bring indictments and prosecutions against journalists, which has never happened, and is a clear violation of the First Amendment. I don't have any basis for feeling certain about this, I thought it was probable for some time. I was very struck to hear some of these very high journalistic authorities say, 'no, it's inevitable, he's going to do it.' That's a path that Obama paved by prosecuting more sources three times more than all previous presidents put together.

I was the first to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act, or any other act, for revealing information to the American public, not to a foreign power. There have been two other cases before Obama. One of them involved several people, and that one was dropped. One person went to prison, Samuel Loring Morison, for a leak, as of course Nixon tried to do to me, but failed. Morison was pardoned, in retrospect by Clinton after he had been in prison. He has been out for quite a while.

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