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"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have
any."-- Alice Walker
[[Just NOW he's figuring this out, for chrissake!!?? GD pathetic... like the
flak BS 'reply'/s I got from Feinstein (Sen. Itel Comm., right) re: 911 and the
(alleged) 'Partiot' Act (which she et al hadn't read, of course) BEFORE voting
FOR it!! She's on that Comm. and doesn't have the sense to know or question.
Ridiculous, and we're F**ked!!]]
'A Coup Has Occurred'
By Daniel Ellsberg
"ICH" -- September 26, 2007 (Text of a speech delivered September 20, 2007) -- I
think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think
will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in
effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.
If there's another 9/11 under this regime â¦ it means that they switch on full
extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed,
largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by
Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.
Will there be anything left for N.S.A. to increase its surveillance of us? â¦
They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not.
if theyâre not now they will be after another 9/11.
And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you
will then see an increased attack on Iran -- an escalation -- which will be also
accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including
It's a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come
together. Another 9/11 or an Iranian attack in which Iran's reaction against
Israel, against our shipping, against our troops in Iraq above all, possibly in
this country, will justify the full panoply of measures that have been prepared
now, legitimized, and to some extent written into law. â¦
This is an unusual gang, even for Republicans. [But] I think that the successors
to this regime are not likely to roll back the assault on the Constitution.
will take advantage of it, they will exploit it.
Will Hillary Clinton as president decide to turn off N.S.A. after the last five
years of illegal surveillance? Will she deprive her administration her ability
to protect United States citizens from possible terrorism by blinding herself
deafening herself to all that N.S.A. can provide? I don't think so.
Unless this somehow, by a change in our political climate, of a radical change,
unless this gets rolled back in the next year or two before a new administration
comes in -- and thereâs no move to do this at this point -- unless that
donât see it happening under the next administration, whether Republican or
The Next Coup
Let me simplify this and not just to be rhetorical: A coup has occurred. I woke
up the other day realizing, coming out of sleep, that a coup has occurred. It's
not just a question that a coup lies ahead with the next 9/11. That's the next
coup, that completes the first.
The last five years have seen a steady assault on every fundamental of our
Constitution, â¦ what the rest of the world looked at for the last 200 years
model and experiment to the rest of the world -- in checks and balances, limited
government, Bill of Rights, individual rights protected from majority
infringement by the Congress, an independent judiciary, the possibility of
There have been violations of these principles by many presidents before. Most
the specific things that Bush has done in the way of illegal surveillance and
other matters were done under my boss Lyndon Johnson in the Vietnam War: the use
of C.I.A., F.B.I., N.S.A. against Americans.
I could go through a list going back before this century to Lincolnâs
of habeas corpus in the Civil War, and before that the Alien and Sedition Acts
the 18th century. I think that none of those presidents were in fact what I
would call quite precisely the current administration: domestic enemies of the
I think that none of these presidents with all their violations, which were
impeachable had they been found out at the time and in nearly every case their
violations were not found out until they were out of office so we didnât have
exact challenge that we have today.
That was true with the first term of Nixon and certainly of Johnson, Kennedy and
others. They were impeachable, they werenât found out in time, but I think it
was not their intention to in the crisis situations that they felt justified
their actions, to change our form of government.
It is increasingly clear with each new book and each new leak that comes out,
that Richard Cheney and his now chief of staff David Addington have had
that in mind since at least the early 70s. Not just since 1992, not since 2001,
but have believed in Executive government, single-branch government under an
Executive president -- elected or not -- with unrestrained powers. They did not
believe in restraint.
When I say this I'm not saying they are traitors. I don't think they have in
mind allegiance to some foreign power or have a desire to help a foreign power.
I believe they have in their own minds a love of this country and what they
is best for this country -- but what they think is best is directly and
consciously at odds with what the Founders of this country and Constitution
They believe we need a different kind of government now, an Executive government
essentially, rule by decree, which is what we're getting with signing
Signing statements are talked about as line-item vetoes which is one [way] of
describing them which are unconstitutional in themselves, but in other ways are
just saying the president says "I decide what I enforce. I decide what the law
is. I legislate."
It's [the same] with the military commissions, courts that are under the entire
control of the Executive Branch, essentially of the president. A concentration
of legislative, judicial, and executive powers in one branch, which is precisely
what the Founders meant to avert, and tried to avert and did avert to the best
their ability in the Constitution.
Founders Had It Right
Now I'm appealing to that as a crisis right now not just because it is a break
tradition but because I believe in my heart and from my experience that on this
point the Founders had it right.
It's not just "our way of doing things" -- it was a crucial perception on the
corruption of power to anybody including Americans. On procedures and
institutions that might possibly keep that power under control because the
alternative was what we have just seen, wars like Vietnam, wars like Iraq, wars
like the one coming.
That brings me to the second point. This Executive Branch, under specifically
Bush and Cheney, despite opposition from most of the rest of the branch, even of
the cabinet, clearly intends a war against Iran which even by imperialist
standards, standards in other words which were accepted not only by nearly
everyone in the Executive Branch but most of the leaders in Congress. The
interests of the empire, the need for hegemony, our right to control and our
to control the oil of the Middle East and many other places. That is consensual
in our establishment. â¦
But even by those standards, an attack on Iran is insane. And I say that
quietly, I don't mean it to be heard as rhetoric. Of course it's not only
aggression and a violation of international law, a supreme international crime,
but it is by imperial standards, insane in terms of the consequences.
Does that make it impossible? No, it obviously doesn't, it doesn't even make it
That is because two things come together that with the acceptance for various
reasons of the Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- and the public and the
media, we have freed the White House -- the president and the vice president --
from virtually any restraint by Congress, courts, media, public, whatever.
And on the other hand, the people who have this unrestrained power are crazy.
entirely, but they have crazy beliefs.
And the question is what then, what can we do about this? We are heading
an insane operation. It is not certain. It is likely. â¦ I want to try to be
realistic myself here, to encourage us to do what we must do, what is needed to
be done with the full recognition of the reality. Nothing is impossible.
What I'm talking about in the way of a police state, in the way of an attack on
Iran is not certain. Nothing is certain, actually. However, I think it is
probable, more likely than not, that in the next 15, 16 months of this
administration we will see an attack on Iran. Probably. Whatever we do.
And â¦ we will not succeed in moving Congress probably, and Congress probably
not stop the president from doing this. And that's where weâre heading.
a very ugly, ugly prospect.
However, I think it's up to us to work to increase that small perhaps -- anyway
not large -- possibility and probability to avert this within the next 15
aside from the effort that we have to make for the rest of our lives.
Restoring the Republic
Getting back the constitutional government and improving it will take a long
time. And I think if we donât get started now, it wonât be started under
Getting out of Iraq will take a long time. Averting Iran and averting a further
coup in the face of a 9/11, another attack, is for right now, it can't be put
off. It will take a kind of political and moral courage of which we have seen
We have a really unusual concentration here and in this audience, of people who
have in fact changed their lives, changed their position, lost their friends to
large extent, risked and experienced being called terrible names, "traitor,"
"weak on terrorism" -- names that politicians will do anything to avoid being
How do we get more people in the government and in the public at large to change
their lives now in a crisis in a critical way? How do we get Nancy Pelosi and
Harry Reid for example? What kinds of pressures, what kinds of influences can
brought to bear to get Congress to do their jobs? It isn't just doing their
jobs. Getting them to obey their oaths of office.
I took an oath many times, an oath of office as a Marine lieutenant, as an
official in the Defense Department, as an official in the State Department as a
Foreign Service officer. A number of times I took an oath of office which is
same oath office taken by every member of Congress and every official in the
United States and every officer in the United States armed services.
And that oath is not to a Commander-in-Chief, which is not mentioned. It is not
to a fuehrer. It is not even to superior officers. The oath is precisely to
protect and uphold the Constitution of the United States.
Now that is an oath I violated every day for years in the Defense Department
without realizing it when I kept my mouth shut when I knew the public was being
lied into a war as they were lied into Iraq, as they are being lied into war in
I knew that I had the documents that proved it, and I did not put it out then. I
was not obeying my oath which I eventually came to do.
Iâve often said that Lt. Ehren Watada -- who still faces trial for refusing to
obey orders to deploy to Iraq which he correctly perceives to be an
unconstitutional and aggressive war -- is the single officer in the United
armed services who is taking seriously in upholding his oath.
The president is clearly violating that oath, of course. Everybody under him
understands what is going on and there are myriad, are violating their oaths.
And thatâs the standard that I think we should be asking of people.
On the Democratic side, on the political side, I think we should be demanding of
our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate -- and frankly of the Republicans
-- that it is not their highest single absolute priority to be reelected or to
maintain a Democratic majority so that Pelosi can still be Speaker of the House
and Reid can be in the Senate, or to increase that majority.
Iâm not going to say that for politicians they should ignore that, or that
should do something else entirely, or that they should not worry about that.
Of course that will be and should be a major concern of theirs, but theyâre
acting like it's their sole concern. Which is business as usual. "We have a
majority, let's not lose it, let's keep it. Let's keep those chairmanships."
Exactly what have those chairmanships done for us to save the Constitution in
last couple of years?
I am shocked by the Republicans today that I read in the Washington Post who
yesterday threatened a filibuster if we â¦ get back habeas corpus. The ruling
of habeas corpus with the help of the Democrats did not get us back to George
First it got us back to before King John 700 years ago in terms of
We need some way, and Ann Wright has one way, of sitting in, in Conyers office
and getting arrested. Ray McGovern has been getting arrested, pushed out the
other day for saying the simple words "swear him in" when it came to testimony.
I think we've got to somehow get home to them [in Congress] that this is the
for them to uphold the oath, to preserve the Constitution, which is worth
struggling for in part because it's only with the power that the Constitution
gives Congress responding to the public, only with that can we protect the world
from mad men in power in the White House who intend an attack on Iran.
And the current generation of American generals and others who realize that this
will be a catastrophe have not shown themselves -- they might be people who in
their past lives risked their bodies and their lives in Vietnam or elsewhere,
like [Colin] Powell, and would not risk their career or their relation with the
president to the slightest degree.
That has to change. And it's the example of people like those up here who
somehow brought home to our representatives that they as humans and as citizens
have the power to do likewise and find in themselves the courage to protect this
country and protect the world. Thank you.
[Daniel Ellsberg is author of "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon
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