By Jonathan Nack
March 23, 2010
OAKLAND, CA -- Daniel Ellsberg told a San Francisco rally of trade
unionists that President Obama is lying about the wars in Afghanistan
and Iraq. The rally took place Saturday, March 20, inside the
Plumbers Hall, 1621 Market Street, prior to a march against the wars
in Iraq & Afghanistan held later that day.
A well known scholar and peace activist, Ellsberg was the featured
speaker at the anti-war labor rally. He rose to fame, and became a
hero of the anti-war movement, when he made The Pentagon Papers
public in 1971 [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Ellsberg ].
The Pentagon Papers are from a Pentagon study on counter-insurgency
in Vietnam which reveal a secret history, and the U.S. government's
behind-the-scenes decision making. Ellsberg had used his high level
security clearance to copy thousands of pages of the top secret document.
Speaking from a stage draped in a banner that read, "Labor Against
the War", Ellsberg began his presentation to the 150 unionists in
attendance by linking the wars and military budget to the economy and
government budget cutbacks. "None of the problems...society is
concerned about can be dealt with as long as we're wasting a vast
proportion of our money, and the world's money, on military
production and war."
A former Pentagon counterinsurgency expert, later employed by the
Rand Corporation on counterinsurgency projects in which he continued
to work closely with Pentagon analysts, Elllsberg presented his
analysis of the current wars.
"I think there is no prospect that we will achieve anything of any
benefit to anyone in Afghanistan, or to us, by our efforts in
Afghanistan," Ellsberg told the audience.
"Obama said " he will be withdrawing troops 15 months from now, 18
months from now. Gates [Secretary of Defense] has said maybe 24
months from now, and maybe it won't be too fast... The implicit
promise is that that's a ceiling, that we'll be drawing down from
that," said Ellsberg. "I don't think there's any chance of that," he declared.
Based on his evaluation of the insurgency, Ellsberg predicted that,
"there will be more troops in Afghanistan in two years, and still
more in four years."
Regarding Iraq, Ellsberg said that, "it's taken for granted in
everything I read that Obama is going to carry out his promise to get
all American troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011 - all combat
troops earlier than that, maybe this year. I don't think there's any
chance of that."
Ellsberg accused President Obama of intending to maintain U.S.
Military bases in Iraq for much longer, "not just as long as he's
alive, not just as long as he's in office as long as his children are
alive!" Ellsberg said he expects there will still be 30,000 to 50,000
troops in Iraq by the end of Pres. Obama's second term.
"I'm saying that Obama is lying in the same way, and to the same
degree, as my former President Lyndon Johnson did," accused Ellsberg.
Ellsberg ended his talk with a challenge. "Who is going to get
Congress to cut off the funding for these criminal, useless,
unnecessary, bloody, hopeless wars?" He also challenged union members
to change their union's positions on the wars and military spending,
"if we can't change the policies of our own organizations, how can we
change the government?"
Rally organizers solicited signatures to an open letter to the Bay
Area Congressional delegation which demands that they take action to
end the Iraq and Afghan wars. The letter urges them to support a
bill, HR 3699, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D), which would
prohibit an increase in the number of troops serving in Afghanistan
and block a $33 billion appropriation.
The rally was organized by U.S. Labor Against the War [
http://www.uslaboragainstwar.org/ ] and was endorsed by the Central
Labor Councils AFL-CIO of San Francisco, Alameda, and the South Bay.
A number of individual Bay Area union locals also endorsed the rally.
Following the labor rally participants marched to Civic Center in
downtown San Francisco to join in a larger anti-war march and rally.
A video of Ellsberg's full remarks was produced by the Labor Video
Project and can be viewed on line. [ http://blip.tv/file/3373048 ] A
2009 documentary film, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel
Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" [ http://www.mostdangerousman.org ]
received an Academy Award nomination. Ellsberg has his own web site.
[ http://www.ellsberg.net ]
Jonathan Nack has been a journalist and activist since 1984. He
resides in Oakland, California.