I was part of the media horde that witnessed Daniel Ellsberg’s surrender to authorities in the federal courthouse
in Boston in 1971 after he leaked the Pentagon Papers.
In the wake of the NSA leaks committed by Edward Snowden I’ve
seen Snowden compared to Ellsberg (and have read laudatory comments made by Ellsberg about Snowden), but I don’t believe
the comparison is valid.
What Ellsberg leaked was a secret history of the Vietnam War that was politically embarrassing to
the Nixon administration and its predecessors. Ellsberg leaked an analysis of past
events, things that were largely over and done. It provided added fuel for the already-strong antiwar sentiment in the country
at the time.
What Snowden leaked was information that potentially affects the here and now of our national security.
And while the Pentagon Papers were controversial and polarizing, the safety
of the American people was never in question or jeopardized by the leak. It seems to me the situation is different now and
has been since 9/11.
The debate over secrecy, surveillance, and safety can be worthwhile, if conducted rationally and not
for political expediency (hah!), but it is seriously troubling and frustrating that an immature, look-at-what-I-did Dennis
the Menace is playing god for the rest of us.