“The Post,” Dan Ellsberg and Secrecy

March 13, 2018 — After spending seven months in London I find myself chasing down soon to go away, worthy films at various sexvigintuplexes the size of aircraft carriers. Thus, I finally got to see The Post on a big screen in LA before it went to wherever movies go when their run is over.  Lady Bird and The Florida Project got away. Netflix.

Watching The Post was a nostalgic trip to another lifetime when confusion and chaos reigned like they do now – film at eleven. I spent many years off and on in Washington, DC and was there for the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg turning himself into authorities and the Watergate break-in.

Some believe Dan to be a traitor, some a national hero. Not surprisingly I am of the latter persuasion. As for the Washington Post and the New York Times, I was so proud. There was the Fourth Estate doing exactly what it had to do to keep alive a democratic republic.  Democracies of every type cannot survive without a free press. History has shown this over and over again.

The decline of America as a moral center for the Western world began in 1964. It was couched in the words of a resolution quickly drafted, shoved before the United States Congress on August 9 and passed after eight hours of debate 416-0 (House) and 88-2 (Senate). It was about events in the Gulf of Tonkin and it was a lie. Worse, it was an institutional lie.

Seven years later Daniel Ellsberg and his supporters copied and delivered the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and the Washington Post.  What shocked many back then, but would hardly raise an eyebrow now? The government’s accounts of the Vietnam War were riddled with lies.

The institutional lying about the Vietnam War was a moral catastrophe for the United States. Millions of innocents died and trillions of (2018) dollars were wasted. Whatever prospect America had of recovering from that evaporated on March 20, 2003 when more institutional lying began a series of wars with seemingly no end. America had declared war on a improper noun.

It is notable the Pentagon Papers were formally declassified on May 4, 2011. While we wait for the declassification of the “Iraq War Papers,” “declassification by other means” has taken place as part of a nascent Internet based revolution.

The tragedy of institutional lying is that it metastasizes to the general public and lying becomes so endemic, when the truth does show up, it is not recognized.

And so it is that fifty-four years after the passing of that infamous resolution the most powerful nation/state/empire/kingdom the world has ever seen has reached a new nadir of moral authority.

Down though the past decades another lie traveled as companion to this decline. It was not about war, not directly. It was and is about the “greatest story never told.” The human race is not alone is this vast universe and its fellow travelers are not microbes on some distant planet a million light years away. Rather they are sentient beings in our airspace and in our bedrooms – now.

Through all the post-WWII wars of the 20th and 21st Century members of the military/intelligence communities of nations have carried the burden of knowing this truth. It is time for these national security warriors to share this burden with the rest of us. We can handle it. We have the right to carry it.

As I sat in the theater watching The Post being reminded of the pain of those times, I was comforted by the knowledge that two great papers are once again rising to answer the call and be the Fourth Estate the nation needs. Will the greatest truth of all be the way back for America? Will an American president be the first to deliver that truth to the people of this world?

April 25, 2016 – People Are Seeing U.F.O.s Everywhere, and This Book Proves It – Ralph Bluenthal, New York Times

December 16, 2017 – Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program – Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, New York Times

December 16, 2017 – 2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’ – Helene Cooper, Leslie Kean, Ralph Blumenthal, New York Times

December 18, 2017 – On the Trail of a Secret Pentagon U.F.O. Program – Ralph Blumenthal, New York Times

December 18, 2017 – ‘Look at That Thing!’ U.S. Navy Jet Encounters Unknown Object – New York Times

March 9, 2018 – The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn’t the Pentagon care? – Christopher Mellon, Washington Post

March 12, 2018 – ‘Oh my gosh, dude’: Video shows Navy pilot’s close encounter with an unidentified fast-flying object – Marwa Eltagouri, Washington Post

Steve Bassett
Los Angeles, CA

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