Most readers might not remember Daniel Ellsberg, but for those of us who came of age during the Vietnam War, the maelstrom that formed around him and his actions helped to define that era. Ellsberg, of course, is famous because he leaked a number of internal government documents called the Pentagon Papers in which the writers expressed skepticism about the chances for U.S. success in the Vietnam War.
Ellsberg chose to leak to the New York Times and the Washington Post, which at that time (as well as today) were the print voices of the political and academic elites. By 1971, when the papers printed some of the documents (after the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to allow publication), the war was well out of favor with the Democratic Party – whose politicians had started the war in the first place – and it had been three years since Walter Cronkite denounced it on his evening broadcast.
The Richard Nixon administration, which had inherited the war and expanded it into neighboring Cambodia, charged Ellsberg with violating the Espionage Act of 1917, but the courts dismissed the charges in 1973 because of government misconduct. Ellsberg has been a free man since then and has been a celebrity in elite circles. (I saw him at a 2007 conference sponsored by the Future of Freedom Foundation. We gave him a standing ovation.)
Jack Texeira, the Massachusetts Air National guardsman who is accused of leaking U.S. Government documents relating to the Ukraine war and other U.S. interventions elsewhere, is unlikely to enjoy Ellsberg’s celebrity status with the progressive elites. Like Ellsberg, he is charged with violating the Espionage Act of 1917; unlike Ellsberg, the recipient of the allegedly leaked documents was a website that clearly does not have favor of the NYT or the Post.
Independent journalist Matt Taibbi writes:
On a flight, reading about the FBI’s arrest of Jack Texeira, already dubbed the “Pentagon Leaker.” A quick review reveals multiple media portraits already out depicting him as a dangerous incel who shared his wares on Discord, a social media app where “racist memes” and “offensive jokes” flourish.
Taibbi adds that the Post labeled him as a “gun enthusiast” as a means to further discredit him. Unlike Ellsberg, Teixeira will not have Ivy League law professors representing him, nor will the editorial pages of the nation’s elite newspapers defend him. Indeed, the NYT has boasted about how it found the identity of the alleged leaker before government authorities did. David French, who recently became a columnist for the NYT and since has used his new journalistic perch to shill for unlimited American involvement in the Ukraine war, has condemned both Teixeira and his defenders on Twitter, calling them “repulsive.” The alleged leaks, declares French, “can do immense damage.” Tom Nichols in The Atlantic has declared him to be a “narcissist” endangering America.