Skip to main content

I've been reminded a few times over the past month or so of Daniel Ellsberg's book "SECRETS," one of the best books I've ever read, fiction or non-fiction. It's a riveting suspenseful story of events around the Vietnam War and the release of the Pentagon Papers. It's a tale of hubris, lies, incompetence, as well as a compelling story of the transformation of a man from hawk to dove, a journey lived on the very front lines of both distinctions.  If you haven't read it, go get it NOW.

The part that has been coming back to me is the relationship between Ellsberg and Kissinger. Ellsberg started out being a close advisor to Kissinger, and briefed him even as he was copying the Pentagon Papers at night. It's fascinating that he started as an advisor to Kissinger, someone that he depended on, and ended up becoming "the most dangerous man in the world" to him. Ellsberg had a warning for him on the eve of Kissinger's rise to the NSC that rings very true for today's "leaders" as well:

"You've been a consultant for a long time and you've dealth with a great deal of top secret information. But you're about to receive a whole slew of special clearances, maybe fifteen or twenty of them, that are higher than top secret....I have a pretty good sense of what the effects of receiving these clearances are on a person who didn't previously know they even existed. And the effects of reading the information that they will make available to you.

"First you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all - so much! incredible! - suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information...You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks. Then, after you've started reading all this daily intelligence input and become used to using what amounts to whole libraries of hidden information, which is much more closely held than mere top secret data, you will forget there ever was a time when you didn't have it, and you'll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don't...and that all those other people are fools...

and here's the part that really RINGS A BELL, if you know what I mean:

in the meantime it will have become very hard for you to learn from anybody who doesn't have these clearances. Because you'll be thinking as you listen to them: "What would this man be telling me if he knew what I know? Would he be giving me the same advice, or would it totally change his predictions and recommendations? And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I've seen this with my superiors, my colleagues... and with myself.

"You will deal with a person who doesn't have those clearances only from the point of view of what you want him to believe and what impression you want him to go away with, since you'll have to lie carefully to him about what you know. In effect, you will have to manipulate him. You'll give up trying to assess what he has to say. The danger is, you'll become something like a moron. You'll be incapable of learning from most people in the world, no matter how much experience they may have in their particular areas that may be much greater than yours."

Remind you of anybody????The Top Secret Moron Syndrome has clearly affected Cheney - it describes him to a T. He has become incapable of NOT manipulating people, and to him, EVERYONE is a fool. He's had super top secret clearance for years and has clearly been corrupted by it, and so has Bush, although clearly Bush came into this never having had clearance but had a PREDISPOSITION for the SYNDROME.... But I think it has affected Woodward, too. He has heard the siren song, felt the pull, and it has made the rest of the world, even the paper he is an editor for, a fool.

The other part that is significant here is that judging from history, in NO WAY would Congress have the SAME classified information as Bush, Cheney, Rice, et al. I'm sure some/many in Congress knows that some of this type of information exists, especially those who have been there for a while, but as Sen Rockefeller said on CNN a week or so ago they can't even acknowledge its existence:

M. O'BRIEN: When you heard about these prisons and you became aware of them in a classified forum, what did you do?

ROCKEFELLER: I'm -- Miles, I'm -- I'm sorry, this makes me a terrible interview, but I'm in a position where I cannot answer your question by saying -- when you say when you heard about these prisons, if I said anything I would either be confirming them or not, and it's embarrassing. I apologize.

M. O'BRIEN: Yes. No, I understand. I'm putting you on the spot. I apologize. I guess the question...

ROCKEFELLER: Can I say something more, though?

M. O'BRIEN: Yes, feel free.

ROCKEFELLER: I think that -- that these so-called secret briefings, or whatever, on whatever subject are used too much by the Bush administration as a way of suppressing information, because they know that if I'm told something about any subject by a high official in certain types of locations, that I can never say anything about it for the rest of my life. And the same with Pat Roberts. He has that same problem.

So it's a very difficult situation.


Link to Ellsberg's SECRETS

Originally posted to Buffalo Girl on Tue Nov 22, 2005 at 05:41 PM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  This is strangely illuminating, ironically (4.00)
    Thanks for an interesting diary.

    Ellsberg's been calling recently for government workers to blow their whistles. A clarion call if there ever was one.

    Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change. - Tennyson

    by bumblebums on Tue Nov 22, 2005 at 05:45:38 PM PST

  •  interesting, when the truth is made secret (4.00)
    only lies can be said.

    i'm an agnostic, i'd be an atheist if it weren't for mozart

    by rasbobbo on Tue Nov 22, 2005 at 05:47:45 PM PST

  •  top secret manipulation (4.00)
    I think it's important to note the part that Senator Rockefeller says about how there are things that he knows as a leader of the Intelligence Committee that he can NEVER talk about. And he is suggesting there is manipulation going on that he can't even do anything about publicly.
  •  I'm recommending (4.00)
    because this is an interesting line of thought.  I can certainly see how this would explain BushCo's seemingly impenetrable guard against what we all accept as obvious fact.

    Is it possible that they know something we don't?  Well, obviously.  Does it excuse their arrogance, their general assholishness or inability to utter two sentences without a) one contradicting the other or b)revealing themselves to have all the empathy of a tablespoonfull of arsenic?

    I can accept that there are secrets, and that I will be manipulated by the elected officials who get to know these secrets.  But at the end of the day, I think their attitudes are still indicative of massive character flaws -- if only for how quickly and thoroughly they reached the "after a while you give it up and just stop listening" part.   This is a very interesting diary - adds new depth to the "power corrupts" saying...  thank goodness, all snark aside, we don't live in a country where anyone has absolute power.

    War is NOT a preventative measure.

    by demandcaring on Tue Nov 22, 2005 at 06:30:19 PM PST

    •  allure of proximity to power (4.00)
      You know, I had a very heady couple of days back in 2004 when I was in DC that gave me a taste of the allure of it. I accidently ended up at the 9/11 hearings for two days, sitting right behind Richard Clarke (my blurry head is in Newsweek), then spent the next two days at big Democratic Party events with the likes of Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Carter, etc etc. For 4 days I was travelling in the center of the news cycle, right beside Kelly Wallace of CNN, and Time Mag, etc. I became familiar enough to them that when I saw some of them at the big DNC dinner on the last night, they did a double take at me, wondering why they knew my face. Everywhere I was for those days was on the front page or the top of the news. I heard stories at the 9/11 hearings that didn't make the news (Sibel Edmonds was there, 9/11 families walked out on Armitage, Bob Kerrey comments to the press, a guy sitting next to me stood up and started screaming during Tenet's testimony about how Porter Goss knew about 9/11 before - was dragged out by cops. )

      The day after, I was in my hotel room (AT THE WATERGATE! Just HAD to stay there - good location, not so great hotel. It's seen better days) I had this huge let-down. I was a plebian again.  I could see how people could get addicted to staying within that orbit.

  •  More "Secret" doesn't mean (none)
    More "Accurate"

    Let's be blunt.

    Lots and LOTS of the "Super Top Secret" info we've collected is simply WRONG or completely misses the mark.

    Anyone EVER do a HINDSIGHT analysis of all teh info disbursed only at the highest levels?

    We seem to have completely MISSED the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, never anticipated some of their biggest successes (think Sputnik).

    With ALL the NSA capabilities we have how many REAL terrorist attacks have we caught and prevented?  It seems like they went with all they could in touting "success" but, frankly, there wasn't too much to really crow about.  We have yet to catch Bin Laden and Afghanistan was a black hole for both the State Department and the CIA for decades - even AFTER the Soviets invaded.

    Frankly, all those ordinary people WITHOUT access to often BAD intelligence often predicted what was going to happen far more accurately than the "experts" with access to everything.

    I expect a historian familiar with the Middle East and the British experience in Iraq would have accurately predicted the reaction we see by Iraqs against a perceived American "occupation."

    And it doesn't matter WHAT intelligence is collected if you only pay attention to that which supports a pre-determined POV.  

    •  I don't know when you 'saw the light' (none)
      but judging from your uid, it may be recent. You may need to do a lot of catching up. Try googling "'Team B' & Rumsfeld". Don't take this wrong; I admire your willingness to join the fray here. It's just that your statement: " We seem to have completely MISSED the impending collapse of the Soviet Union, never anticipated some of their biggest successes (think Sputnik)." leads me to believe you haven't yet learned about 'Team B'. You see: it was intentional that the US not realize the truth about the USSR's impending demise. Team B phonied up 'evidence' of the soviet nuclear build-up as an excuse to funnel more billions of $ into the military-industrial-complex.

      Another good article to get you going: Scoop Jackson's protégés shaping Bush's foreign policy

      Also note that the decision to build the H-bomb has an interesting history of its own. Oppenheimer was opposed. He even advised disclosure of the true effects of the Hiroshima bombing (which had been suppressed) to horrify the populace in opposition to the nuclear foundation of the cold war. For this he was smeared by J. Edgar Hoover, and ousted by those who stood to gain from the military-industrial-complex. And so it continues today.

      Afghanistan was a 'black hole?' What do you mean"? An excellent book on our complicity in establishing al Qaeda in Afghanistan is Ghost Wars by Steve Coll.

      Sorry if I judged you wrong. I guess I felt the need to rant.

      •  Read Ghost Wars - (4.00)
        supports my contention that we did NOT pay much attention there....

        confess that some of the rest is news to me but makes sense.

        Love Ike's "military-industrial-congressional complex" comment and Smedley Butler's position.

        Saw the light a long time ago at West Point.  Upperclassmen were there only to stay out of 'Nam for four more years... nobody "believed".  I lost MY naievite and "reconsidered" - lottery number of 356 reaffirmed my choice.

        Just increasingly appalled at things - voted Nader as a protest (moot point in NY).  Busy with work, kids and life - like most.  Just have some "open time" now.......  frankly, have a pretty good life.  Expect things won't totally tank until after I'm dead but am horrified at the world my kids are inheriting.  'Don't buy into the "rapture" thing and want alternate plan.

  •  Are you sure... (none)
    this isn't a metadiary?
    •  Hmm... (none)
      here's the part that really RINGS A BELL, if you know what I mean:
      First you'll be exhilarated by some of this new information, and by having it all - so much! incredible! - suddenly available to you. But second, almost as fast, you will feel like a fool for having studied, written, talked about these subjects, criticized and analyzed decisions made by presidents for years without having known of the existence of all this information...You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks. Then, after you've started reading all this daily intelligence input and become used to using what amounts to whole libraries of hidden information, which is much more closely held than mere top secret data, you will forget there ever was a time when you didn't have it, and you'll be aware only of the fact that you have it now and most others don't...and that all those other people are fools...

      [snip]

      in the meantime it will have become very hard for you to learn from anybody who doesn't have these clearances. Because you'll be thinking as you listen to them: "What would this man be telling me if he knew what I know? Would he be giving me the same advice, or would it totally change his predictions and recommendations? And that mental exercise is so torturous that after a while you give it up and just stop listening. I've seen this with my superiors, my colleagues... and with myself.

      Ahh... existence, non-existence, the good, the bad, it's all the same- or is it?

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site