Author Topic: A new book about the "Pentagon Papers"  (Read 2507 times)

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Offline kimono

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A new book about the "Pentagon Papers"
« on: May 05, 2013, 08:29:10 AM »
Fighting for the Press, The Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles

Pentagon Papers Attorney James Goodale of Washington Looks Back in New Book

By Kathryn Boughton
[email protected]
@thelct on Twitter

Freedom was hard won and is nearly as hard to maintain in the United States. Throughout American history, stressors—wars, depressions, political divisions, racism, bigotry and the threat of terrorism—have strained the cords that bind its society together.

Central to the continued success of the Union has been a free press empowered to deliver the news and to comment on the actions of the nation’s leaders. It is a freedom so firmly endorsed by the Founding Fathers, who made it their first amendment to the Constitution, that it has stood, largely unabridged, ever since—but not without great challenges. It has taken dogged champions, fighting for its preservation all the way to the Supreme Court, to ensure its continuance.

One of those champions, James C. Goodale of Washington, Conn., former general counsel for the New York Times, helped fight the Nixon Administration to a standstill in 1971 when the Times published the classified Pentagon Papers in the midst of the turmoil over Vietnam. Mr. Goodale has now recounted those heady days in his book, “Fighting for the Press, the Inside Story of the Pentagon Papers and Other Battles.”

The book recounts the efforts on the part of the New York Times and Washington Post to protect freedom of the press in an era when the Nixon Administration was openly hostile to it. Nixon, one of the most distrusted of American presidents, failed in his quest to muzzle the media. But, ironically, Mr. Goodale says that Barack Obama, who has been largely favored by the mainstream media, has been equally aggressive toward a free press and has had more success than Nixon in challenging it.

“The main thing that drove me to write this book is Julian Assange and the Wikileaks,” said Mr. Goodale, who has had a home on Lake Waramaug since 1966 and who will have a book signing at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington May 18 at 2 p.m. “That was my impetus to go back and look at everything that took place so long ago. I had stuff about the Pentagon Papers’ [publication] that others hadn’t come across and I wanted to get it all out.”

“There are two themes to my book,” he continued. “When you look at the Pentagon Papers in the light of history, they were not much of a threat to national security,” he said. “The second is to issue a clarion call about Obama. He a national security hawk. He personally managed the killing of Bin Laden, he is the one who has a drone program that is probably over-broad. And in my view, he is one of worst national security press freedom presidents we have ever had.”

He said this position flies in the face of the support Mr. Obama has enjoyed from the press. “It comes as a shock to members of the press when I tell them this,” he said. “There are many things going on, but the most prominent of Obama’s threats against the press is the prosecution of leakers. He has set the world record for prosecuting leakers—six during his presidency. In the history of the United States only three others have been prosecuted by other presidents.”

He reported, for instance, that President Obama convened a grand jury in Virginia to go after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. “I know that’s a fact and, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, it’s still alive. That explains why Assange is holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy—he is afraid that if he faces sex charges in Sweden, he will pass through Sweden faster than the speed of light and end up back in Virginia. That is very bad for the press side of the leaker-leakee equation. As a publisher, Julian Assange published stuff on his site just as the Times did on its site.”

Mr. Goodale said that if the Obama administration is successful in suppressing Wikileaks, “there is no reason he can’t go after the New York Times. It’s a very bad precedent.”

“It’s scary because the prosecution is going forward on the theory that all Assange has to be is guilty of agreeing with the leaker, Bradley Manning. Obama is chasing publishers and has come up with a theory that makes the publisher as guilty as the person who leaks the material. The Pentagon Papers were about whether the government could use prior restraint [enjoining papers from publishing material before it could appear, which was denied by the Supreme Court]. Obama is trying to prosecute after publication, which Nixon tried to do and failed. This book is intended as a clarion call to make sure he doesn’t do it. We’ve got to keep fighting.”
"Les hommes qui ont vécu dans les laboratoires n'imaginent guère que les partis extrêmes" -
"Men who lived in the laboratories can hardly imagine anything else than extreme parties" (Louis Aragon, 1897-1982)