Daniel Ellsberg – America’s most famous whistleblower, the former military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers which helped end the Vietnam war – has just published a book revealing that he was also one of the main nuclear war planners for the United States in the 1960s.
Ellsberg said in an interview this morning that the U.S. had plans for a first strike on every city in Russia and China … and that numerous field-level commanders had the power to start nuclear Armageddon:
[Interviewer] So, you made copies of top-secret reports for plans about nuclear war years before you copied the Pentagon Papers—
DANIEL ELLSBERG: That’s right.
[Interviewer] —and released them to the press?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Essentially, my notes, and sometimes verbatim excerpts, not the entire plans themselves, but on plans that were then unknown to the president, to begin with, to President Kennedy. I briefed his aide, McGeorge Bundy, in his first month in office on the nature of the plans and some of the other problems, like the delegation of authority to theater commanders for nuclear war by President Eisenhower, which was fairly shocking to McGeorge Bundy, even though Kennedy chose to renew that delegation, as other presidents have.
But I was given the job of improving the Eisenhower plans, which was not a very high bar, actually, at that time, because they were, on their face, the worst plans in the history of warfare. A number of people who saw them, but very few civilians ever got a look at them. In fact, the joint chiefs couldn’t really get the targets out of General LeMay at the Strategic Air Command.
And there was a good reason for that: They were insane. They called for first-strike plans, which was by order of President Eisenhower. He didn’t want any plan for limited war of any kind with the Soviet Union, under any circumstances, because that would enable the Army to ask for enormous numbers of divisions or even tactical nuclear weapons to deal with the Soviets. So he required that the only plan for fighting Soviets, under any circumstances, such as an encounter in the Berlin corridor, the access to West Berlin, or over Iran, which was already a flashpoint at that point, or Yugoslavia, if they had gone in—however the war started—with an uprising in East Germany, for example—however it got started, Eisenhower’s directed plan was …read more