Daniel Ellsberg Discusses Snowden's N.S.A. Leak

Friday, June 14, 2013

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg was a military analyst working for the Department of Defense. He leaked what became known as the "The Pentagon Papers," which exposed that the U.S. public had been misled about the war in Vietnam.

Ellsberg explains his support for Edward Snowden, who leaked the N.S.A.'s internet and phone data collection, and examines the similarities between his own leaking of state secrets over 40 years ago and Snowden's actions this week.

Ellsberg has a unique perspective on the N.S.A. leaks given his experiences, but are the the American people as sympathetic to Snowden or as troubled by the revelation of the data surveillance system?

The Takeaway partnered with YouGov to run a nationally representative poll which shows that more than 60% of Americans feel they have very little or no control over their personal data. When it comes to Snowden, more than 50% have a favorable or somewhat favorable opinion. So favorable, in fact, that only 26% of people would support his prosecution.

How well do you trust large Internet companies to protect your online privacy?


If "data" is the content of an email, "meta data" is information about the "data" for example, the identity of the recipient and sender and the time, date, duration and location of a communication. Do you feel like you have a reasonable amount of control over who can access and use your personal data/ meta data?


Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee, made the news recently for leaking information of government surveillance on Americans, including monitoring internet usage and telephone records, to the press. What is your opinion on Snowden, if any?


Would you support or oppose the prosecution of Edward Snowden for leaking the information? An extradition order has not yet been issued for Snowden, who was last seen in Hong Kong.


Sample Size: 1179

Fieldwork: 11th - 13th June 2013


Daniel Ellsberg

Produced by:

Tyler Adams and Megan Quellhorst

Comments [5]

John Marcinski from Maplewood, NJ

Snowdon is seking refuge in Hong Kong from a vengeful United States which violently dislikes having its secret crimes revealed. The 'rumor' that he is providing secret information to China is about as accurate as the Gulf of Tonkin fable, or the weapons of mass destruction deliberate falsehoods regarding Iraq. The disinformation campaign regarding Iran may well involve us in another self-destructive illegal war.

The fact is that our government lies like hell. So do many other governments, but we can and do bomb and kill far more than most, and even make lunatic claims regarding something called American exceptionalism.

I supported Ellsberg, and I support Snowdon and Manning. These men are far from perfect examples of moral rectitude, but they are miles ahead of most of our political leaders. Virtually all of them. Carter is the last President who had any ethics and moral courage. Not all that much, but at least some.

Face facts, we basically have a criminal government, and are largly responsible for establishing ourselves as the target for so many terrorists. The saddest thing about bringing all this hatred down on our heads is that our political leaders set us up for this, not out of any connection with the national interest, but out of a combination of ignorance, stupidity, and narrow personal political concerns.

Jun. 14 2013 03:51 PM

I can understand Snowdens reasoning behind his leak, just as I can understand Ellsbergs, but can we please stop lionizing the traitor PFC Manning? The difference being that Ellsberg and Snowden released information they knew wouldn't endanger American or allied lives, but PFC Manning released an vast slew of information with little or no regard to American lives. In an impartial justice system, we must take intent into account, and while Ellsberg and Snowden intended to reverse the trend towards Gov't secrecy, PFC Manning didn't care about the risks to others. I'd put him in front of a firing squad if it were up to me.

Jun. 14 2013 12:37 PM
Angel from Miami, FL

I was supportive of Edward Snowden up until I heard rumors that he might defect to China with four laptops of sensitive information. I do want Americans to act on their principles and call out the government when it oversteps its official powers. However, I don't want Americans to assist the enemies of the US with the ability to cripple us in a hot or cold war. China is NOT our friend, no matter what entrepreneurs and financial analysts tell us.

I do think Mr. Snowden's life might be in danger now. Not just from our own agents but from foreign agents looking to secure what data he holds.

Jun. 14 2013 09:30 AM
KR from New York City

What's Ellsberg think of the report that Snowden may have given secret data to China? I appreciate Snowden's revealing the NSA network to us, but am not so thrilled about his giving data to China that we US folks apparently aren't able to view and evaluate first. Gives the lie to our thinking he's NOT a "traitor"; certainly doesn't seem to be conforming to his claim that he wanted ordinary Americans to have a role in judging whether we want such a secret surveillance system operating in our name for our "security"


Jun. 14 2013 09:26 AM

Apparently, most people have now forgotten the 1958 Supreme Court decision in NAACP vs Alabama. Freedom of Association demands being able to conceal those associations.

Just what is the scope of the FISA authorization. To create the database, or to mine the database. One is probably constitutional, the other has already been decided for organizations. It is only a question of whether it applies also to the individual

Jun. 14 2013 09:26 AM

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