Rest in Peace Daniel Ellsberg

One of America’s most courageous men, who took on the most powerful government in the world to expose its lies about the Vietnam war, has died at 92. 

Daniel Ellsberg on March 19, 2011, speaking at a rally near the White House to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and other potential fronts, such as Libya. (Photo courtesy of Ben Schuman/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

By Consortium News

Daniel Ellsberg died at 92 on Friday in hospice care after a battle with pancreatic cancer. 

Ellsberg was considered the greatest whistleblower of certainly his generation if not in U.S. history.  His decision to leak the top-secret government study of the Vietnam war to the press was clearly one of the most courageous acts in the nation’s history. 

The decision by the Nixon administration’s Department of Justice to order the press to stop publishing the Pentagon Papers led to a landmark Supreme Court decision against the government’s use of prior restraint.

Then President Richard Nixon had Ellsberg charged under the Espionage Act nonetheless. Ellsberg gained his freedom only after gross prosecutorial misconduct was revealed. 

In his later years, Ellsberg continued to speak out against injustices and supported a new generation of whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. 

He was also a fearless advocate for WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange as he battles against his own Espionage Act case. 

Dan was a friend of Consortium News, served on our board and appeared on many of our CN Live! webcasts. We extend our condolences to his family and his many friends.  

56 comments for “Rest in Peace Daniel Ellsberg

  1. Will Durant
    June 18, 2023 at 13:04

    A question: What if Daniel Ellsberg had NOT been released because of “gross prosecutorial misconduct” and instead spent the rest of his life in a federal prison somewhere? We would have never had his wonderful voice and example, and he would have wound up like so many others that have been railroaded by our “justice” system. He was extremely lucky in that the feds egregiously fouled his prosecution.

    Our latter day fascists will not make the same mistake again. Only by removing the utterly pernicious and unconstitutional Espionage Act can whistleblowers appeal to a higher human good. The Biden administration is the new inductee in the Hall of Shame that seems to be the norm in this very sick republic.

    • Tony
      June 19, 2023 at 09:53

      This is ‘counterfactual history’ and its study is important because it teaches us that the actual outcome was not the inevitable outcome. In the UK, there have been several books published on this important subject.

      It also teaches us that even one person who thinks carefully about an issue and then acts in a well-thought out way, and with much determination, can have a big impact.

  2. Mark J Oetting
    June 18, 2023 at 11:14

    The irony and sadness I feel is there will be skant recognition of his passing by the neo liberal left as they are upset with his support for Julian Assange ( blame him for sinking Hillery Clinton campaign), support for Snowden and Manning ( exposing government spying on the pubic and weakening the Cancel culture in the process)., Lastly support for Jill Stein and Scott Ritter for speaking the truth about the Ukraine war and Russia and thus weakening support for the Biden administration and helping to destroy the Russia Gate myth.

  3. Mike Lamb
    June 18, 2023 at 02:34

    Daniel Ellsberg in 1981 wrote an introduction to E.P. Thompson’s book “Protest and Survive” title “Call To Mutiny.”

    In that introduction Ellsberg divulged something that had to be more top secret than anything in the Pentagon Papers.

    Ellsberg noted that in 1961, 2 years before the Cuban Missile Crisis that the Soviet Union had FOUR (YES 4) ICBMs, all liquid fueled at one site at Plesetsk that was vulnerable to a small attack with conventional weapons.

    Ellsberg did not note whether former President Eisenhower, former Vice President Nixon, President Kennedy, Vice President Johnson knew the Soviets had only 4 ICBS.


  4. evelync
    June 17, 2023 at 15:34

    It was touching when Dear Mr Ellsberg said he regretted not coming forward sooner. That took courage too and surely inspired/inspires other people who understandably struggle with their own fears of what this ruthless national security state will do to a family juggling that against their own conscience.
    Just to know that this hero also faced what they are coping with may inspire the courage to follow their conscience.

  5. John Corr
    June 17, 2023 at 11:27

    The Ukraine situation needs a Daniel Ellsberg.

    • Andrew Thomas
      June 17, 2023 at 21:41

      I really think we have what we need with regard to Ukraine, with the exceptions of a mainstream media willing to publish the truth, and a federal law that would mandate dismissal of charges for gross prosecutorial misconduct, and a judiciary that would dismiss charges for that reason in the first instance, and confirm such a decision on appeal. Dan Ellsberg was prepared to spend the rest of his days in jail for a very good reason. He would have, but for the gross prosecutorial misconduct of the US government, and the resulting dismissal of the case against him as a result. In addition, The NY Times and Washington Post were actual newspapers then, and they printed the truth. And, for good measure, we had one senator who was willing to, and did, read all of the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. Fifty plus years later, this is a different country, not to cover what it was then in glory. First, the prosecutorial misconduct involving the Julian Assange case dwarfs that of what was done in the Ellsberg case, as outrageous as that was. No one seriously believes it will result in a dismissal of the indictments against Assange. Second, the Times and Post now regard the transmission to the public of the lies and disinformation provided to them by the Pentagon and intelligence agencies not only uncritically but with buffoonish joie de vivre as their sacred duty, along with the rest of the US corporate media. They also peddle the lies by simply burying the truth. IIRC, Mr. Lauria said at the time of the Russian intervention on behalf of and at the requests of the Luhansk and Donetsk republics (which governments were duly recognized by Russia prior to the intervention) that getting information about Ukraine from the U.S. corporate media was like getting a description of one side of a chessboard. Finally, the idea of any currently sitting Senator doing anything marginally equivalent to what Mike Gravel did over 50 years ago is impossible to conceive. The truthful information about Ukraine is out there. We both have been privileged to see it, in large part because we read CN. As long as it, and its commentariat remain beyond the margins of ‘respectable discourse’, that will continue. If CN starts getting any traction, we might all wind up in the dock following poor Julian Assange for truth-telling and believing. We were so lucky that Dan Ellsberg was there for the last 50 years. I certainly hope that those who would emulate him now can avoid some form of serious martyrdom, but I’m not betting on it.

      • Valerie
        June 19, 2023 at 08:49

        Very well said Andrew Thomas. “We might all wind up in the dock”. Indeed. But one thing they can never take, is our beliefs.

  6. Robert Emmett
    June 17, 2023 at 11:12

    Happen to be re-reading “Doomsday Machine” with particular note of Daniel’s transformation from nuclear war planner to, yes, the making of a warrior for peace.

    May Daniel’s influence continue to inspire & sustain more such warriors through generations. Not that many could match his capacity but perhaps some measure of his strength & courage.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    June 17, 2023 at 11:01

    Sadly…a vanishing breed. RIP.

  8. Dario
    June 17, 2023 at 10:08

    There are men whose greatness is not entirely appreciated, with the indsight, because history turned out to be much different as a result of their actions.
    And we are never exactly in the position to know how bad it could have been, if they had not done what they actually did for us.
    Daniel was one of those men. And we are lucky enough not to have lived through that counterfactual.
    He did leave one outsized print in world peace-making.
    To me, Daniel’s most inspiring legacy is that he did show that personal engagement CAN and DOES make a difference.
    The best way to honor that is to carry on that fight, in times of warmongering hysteria and political apathy.

  9. onno37
    June 17, 2023 at 06:57

    Another well known hero /whistleblower has died reducing the amount of COURAGEOUS people willing & able to publish the TRUTH about the present corrupt media that obey government LIES. Daniels Ellsberg will be remembered for his courage to publish the Pentagon Papers.

  10. Tony
    June 17, 2023 at 06:55

    President Nixon also wanted to prosecute Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Thomas Moorer for spying on his administration (the Moorer-Radford Affair). However, he was persuaded not to by Attorney General John Mitchell. Instead, it was covered up.

    As has already been stated, the best tribute to Daniel Ellsberg would be to read his book “The Doomsday Machine” and work to eliminate the scourge of nuclear weapons.

    That book contains the chilling claim that the first atomic test went ahead despite the scientists thinking it possible that it could ignite the atmosphere and thus extinguish all life on earth.

    Thank you, Daniel Ellsberg.

  11. bardamu
    June 17, 2023 at 04:07

    Here’s to Ellsberg–sorrow at passing, respect beyond words.

  12. Rex Williams
    June 17, 2023 at 02:40

    The man made a contribution like no other.

    Farewell, Daniel Ellsberg. You may have left us but you and your courage will never leave our memories. Ever.

  13. MarcS
    June 16, 2023 at 23:37

    Fare thee well.

    I hope you enjoy paradise … you’ve earned it.
    THANK YOU!!!!!

  14. Cal Lash
    June 16, 2023 at 23:09

    May there be more like him.
    Free Assange.

  15. Lois Gagnon
    June 16, 2023 at 22:20

    In an age when cowardice is rewarded and courage punished, Daniel Ellsberg chose courage. We could use a lot more Daniel Ellsbergs to counter the the many cowards dragging us towards oblivion. Rest in Power Dan.

  16. Guy St Hilaire
    June 16, 2023 at 20:14

    Rest in peace Daniel .You have left a very big footprint on our world .You stood for truth ,honesty and integrity and you were a shining example for others .

  17. CaseyG
    June 16, 2023 at 20:13

    ” Speak the speech, I pray you, trippingly on the tongue.”

    O he did, he did! I am amazed with his writings and so glad that I have recently read a few of his books. More to read. Rare of so many in power, but “doing the right thing is a necessity in the America of today! “

  18. Miriam Adams
    June 16, 2023 at 19:52

    Thank you CONSORTIUM for this tribute to Ellsberg…to which I’d like to add one more significant name that should be
    mentioned along with Manning, Snowden and Assange. The name Mordechai Vanunu, who revealed that Israel was making
    nuclear weapons but was nabbed by Mossad trap in Italy after sharing all his information with British nuclear physicists at
    the Sunday Times offices. Mordechai who converted to Anglicanism in Australia after sharing his revelations (back in 1985!) ended up being drugged/kidnapped from his Italian hotel room to face a military court and sentenced to EIGHTEEN YEARS which he served in SOLITARY confinement. Hearing Ellsberg refer to Mordechai as a Brother in the struggle was gratifying. Though VANUNU STILL LIVES as if he were a state prisoner, unable to LEAVE unable to TRAVEL or any other mode of living life as a free man, he has been forgotten by humanity.. Please contact your elected officials to apply pressure to gain his REAL freedom to leave apartheid israel at long long last

    • Valerie
      June 17, 2023 at 03:04

      Yes Miriam, i remember Vanunu. He wasn’t talked about so much. But he revealed the nuclear programme of Israel and is considered by many a whistleblower.

    • Observer
      June 17, 2023 at 10:51

      Good point!

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 17, 2023 at 12:42

      Thanks for mentioning Mordechai Vanunu. I remember him very well and what happened to him. Yes, we must add his name to the roster of the brave.

    • Eileen
      June 18, 2023 at 11:20

      Another brave soul. Thank you for this infomation. Zionistic actions never shock me. I will advocate. Condolences to Daniel’s family.

    • Carl Zaisser
      June 19, 2023 at 05:03

      I contacted Mordechai a few years back. He wrote back, “See you in freedom”. Yes, also a human with monumental courage and a true sense of right and wrong.

  19. Tobin Sterritt
    June 16, 2023 at 19:50

    He never flagged in his fight for truth and supported those who were willing to sacrifice for the same. He inspired and he will be missed. Condolences to his family. Thank you Daniel Ellsberg.

    • JLiam
      June 17, 2023 at 08:41

      The Guardian, in their obituary, made no mention of Dan’s advocacy for Julian Assange, nor of the inspiring actions he took this very year, when he invited the DOJ to prosecute him under the espionage act (again!) to highlight the bankruptcy of the case against fellow truth-teller Assange. Dan Ellsberg was a man of integrity, for whom we can all be grateful. May he rest in peace, and may his loved ones find comfort in the living legacy of determined and brave honesty he leaves us.

      • Valerie
        June 17, 2023 at 15:26

        Well they wouldn’t would they. These days they’re only good for environmental issues and recipes. (And the odd opinion of eloquent satirists.)

  20. Barefoot Bard
    June 16, 2023 at 18:46

    Daniel Ellsberg was a truth-teller, a courageous and principled man, and a really good guy. Those people should live forever. We owe him our gratitude for showing us how to be. Rest In Power…

    • foster
      June 16, 2023 at 20:51

      Love and blessings forever Daniel,!May others follow in your footsteps!

  21. Renate
    June 16, 2023 at 17:45

    We lost a great man, a real role model, and hero, for all of us and our children to look up to.

  22. Carolyn Zaremba
    June 16, 2023 at 17:18

    We owe Daniel Ellsberg an enormous debt. He was an ardent fighter for justice and truth. He willingly put himself at risk to tell the world what had been hidden. His personal courage makes those who tried to silence him look like the worms they were and are. Thank you many times over for your inspiration to me starting in my 20s with the Pentagon Papers.

  23. June 16, 2023 at 17:17

    I had the privilege to spend a couple of hours with Dan in a small group when he came to Minneapolis for an anniversary gathering of the MN 8 Draft Board defendants. Unpretentious yet determined, Dan continued to speak out and risk his freedom for the cause of peace. Truly an inspiration to many of us!

  24. Patricia M.
    June 16, 2023 at 17:11

    Condolences to his family, friends, and to the world. Grieving, with much gratitude . . . .

  25. June 16, 2023 at 16:52

    Yes, and even in his last months on the planet he continued his tireless work of using his knowledge of U.S. and Russian strategic doctrine to teach of serious ongoing risk of nuclear war, including the dangers of the U.S./NATO policy of keeping the Ukraine war going to weaken Russia.

    • Louise
      June 16, 2023 at 19:10

      Amen. He did not give up.

  26. June 16, 2023 at 16:47

    His legacy might best be honored by reading his book “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner,” an informed and timely warning to us all.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      June 16, 2023 at 21:24

      I have read that book and also “Secrets”. I recommend them both highly.

    • lidia
      June 17, 2023 at 10:37

      Yeah, the book in which he slandered USSR, and call FDR, Japan and Turkey “allies” of USA but DDR – a “puppet” of the USSR (even when he told about USA do not giving a damn about trashing the treaty with Japan).
      In which he told how awful he thought a-bomb was from the beginning and how he still worked for USA planners to a-bomb USSR and China
      He did a lot of good, but he still was a typical Western progressives – an anticommunist.

  27. Spike
    June 16, 2023 at 16:44

    Memory eternal Daniel. Thank you.

  28. Selina Sweet
    June 16, 2023 at 16:41

    Such a sturdy man for truth and justice! Lived strength and power for the critical moment of decision and then, the long haul. In what appears to be a vast moral/ethical morass for what goes as behaviors by political and governmental figures, corporate behavior, and those cursed by money and power obsession, Ellsberg’s light shines, a star, for us here affirming that possibility for the true and good can indeed become actualized. This news, though expected, evokes sadness. May his spirit be blessed.

  29. Andrew
    June 16, 2023 at 16:18

    Rest in Peace peaceful warrior.

  30. Dosamuno
    June 16, 2023 at 16:13

    “Sickness brought me this
    Thought, in that scale of his:
    Why should I be dismayed
    Though flame had burned the whole
    World, as it were a coal,
    Now I have seen it weighed
    Against a soul?”

    William Butler Yeats

    Goodbye Daniel.
    And thank you.

  31. JO Hayward-Haines
    June 16, 2023 at 15:58

    Ellsberg has inspired people from all nations ,who search for truth and justice , to be creative and to prevail.

    • lidia
      June 17, 2023 at 10:44

      In me he inspired an anger when he called my motherland USSR “totalitarian” (i.e. like Hitler’s Germany), while his own state was and is a mass-murdering, torturing, racist, fascist-backing and war-criminal entity
      I suppose Chinees who had read his book were not very much grateful neither.
      He was against the Vietnam war, and good for him. He supported Assange and so on.
      But I will never forget him and other Western “progressives” for his anticommunism.

  32. mgr
    June 16, 2023 at 15:52

    Absolutely. Thank you Daniel Ellsberg. I imagine that your life and works have earned you a coveted place in Valhalla.

    • Louise
      June 16, 2023 at 19:07

      I am drawn to tears with wishes that his life and work push humanity to peaceful, honest forward steps taken to prevent nuclear proliferation and war and to do all possible to thwart climate change momentum. Rest well in peace Daniel Ellsberg.

  33. June 16, 2023 at 15:46

    Daniel Ellsberg’s life was a full life, and a life well lived.

    Rest in peace, Daniel Ellsberg. And rest in power.

  34. rubicon
    June 16, 2023 at 15:43

    We send our condolences to Mr. Ellsberg’s family and friends. Sadly, we have no more Americans like that, anymore.

    • Rex Williams
      June 17, 2023 at 18:12

      Sadly Rubicon, that seems to be the case. What a great pity.

      Daniel’s advocacy and continual efforts on behalf of Julian Assange does him great credit as well.
      Can we imagine a USA government populated with people like Daniel. It would be a different world for all.

      A hero by any measure.

  35. JonT
    June 16, 2023 at 15:42

    We knew it was coming, he wrote movingly about his diagnosis, but very sad news. Without the Pentagon Papers so much would have remained hidden. He will be remembered as one of the greatest reporters. My condolences to his family.

  36. Rudy Haugeneder
    June 16, 2023 at 15:30

    A person of great, great courage has died. More like him are needed but hard to find. RIP

    • Maricata
      June 17, 2023 at 10:28

      Before being put to music in 1936 by Earl Robinson, the lyrics to this song were written as a tribute poem called “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night” by Alfred Hayes in 1930.

      Daniel Ellsberg never died. Like Joe Hill he will remain alive.

      I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
      Alive as you and me
      Says I “But Joe, you’re ten years dead”
      “I never died” said he
      “I never died” said he.”

      Joe Hill was a labor activist, IWW member, and songwriter prominent in the early 1900s. He was convicted of murder and executed in 1915 in a controversial trial, with many arguing that he was wrongfully convicted and subject to an unfair trial due to his socialist politics.

      Hill has been immortalized as a martyr for the labor movement, with a line he sent in a telegram before his death to fellow Wobbly Bill Haywood saying “Goodbye, Bill, I die like a true blue rebel. Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!” being abridged into the common labor slogan “Don’t mourn, organize!”

      “And standing there as big as life
      And smiling with his eyes
      Says Joe “What they could never kill
      Went on to organize
      Went on to organize”


      You can hear Paul Robeson sing this song at the cite above.

      Just substitute ‘Daniel’ for ‘Joe”

      Paul Robeson released “Joe Hill” in 1952.

      • Valerie
        June 17, 2023 at 15:38

        My parents were great fans of Paul Robeson. Thankyou for reminding me. A legacy for Joe Hill, as poignant as Ellsberg’s.

      • JonnyJames
        June 17, 2023 at 15:40

        There are so many moving comments here. You have a great comment as well, Robeson singing Joe Hill always brings me to tears. It is such a pity that more don’t know about Paul Robeson, Eugene Debs, Joe Hill, Emma Goldman, Big Bill Haywood etc. they are largely erased from mainstream history (shoved down the “memory hole”)

        Dan Ellsberg joins the ancestors but his spirit will live on. But as Joe Hill, Robeson and others point out, we have others to carry on the spirit and organize.

        If someone hasn’t already done it: there should be a Daniel Ellsberg Award for whistle-blowing.Candidates for the award: Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Ed Snowden, Daniel Hale, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou

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