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Congresswoman Lee Town Hall: Daniel Ellsberg
Although these posts are all showing my ID, every other post is actually being submitted by Robert Klein, sitting right next to me. We're alternating posts as the program moves one. Each speaker was only given three minutes each so that there's time for the audience to ask questions.
Following Bill Mitchell is Berkeley's Daniel Ellsberg, the former government worker who leaked the "Pentagon Papers" on U.S. decision-making in Vietnam in 1971. Ellsberg received a standing ovation from the crowd after being introduced.
Ellsberg started by recalling a call from one of Congreswoman Lee's staffer reminding him that today's event was a "Congressional town hall" and not a rally. He took his jacket off and said, "Aw, hell," indicating that he would speak his mind regardless. Ellsberg is energetic and animated as he transitions to comments about Karl Rove. "After Rove is convicted, [he] deserves a fair and honest trial," says Ellsberg. "They really do give the President a benefit of the doubt that no President deserves," he continued on.
He recalled his work for President Johnson, "allowing these lies to go on" -- analogizing how the Johnson administration lied about the Vietnam War and comparing the Pentagon Papers to the Downing Street Memo.
"We don't have the American counterparts yet to the Downing Street Memo proving that we were lied into the war," he continued. "We cannot understand why we're in the war by listening to the president. We need more documents out of the inside that will tell us [why we're in Iraq]."
"There should be another Saturday Night Massacre ... This is outrageous and we want this investigation to continue. We need leaks like the Downing Street Memo, like Joe Wilson, that will tell us where we're going."
The "Saturday Night Massacre" (October 20, 1973) was the term given by political commentators to U.S. President Richard Nixon's executive dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and the forced resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus during the controversial and drawn-out Watergate scandal.
Ellsberg ended by calling on the audience to hold Congress accountable and open to the possibility of impeaching the Presdient. If we don't get such candidates in the next election, "we'll fire them."