The article, by Washington reporters Ted Sell and Robert Donovan, made clear that the reasons alleged by Secretary Stanley Resor for this dismissal were false (and that the order to dismiss the charges had most likely come directly from the White House). As I read on, it became increasingly clear that the whole chain of command, civilian and military, was participating in a coverup.
As I finished the article, it hit me: This is the system I have been part of, giving my unquestioning loyalty to for 15 years, as a Marine, a Pentagon official and a State Department officer in Vietnam. It's a system that lies reflexively, at every level from sergeant to commander in chief, about murder. And I had, sitting in my safe at Rand, 7,000 pages of documentary evidence to prove it....
The papers documented in stunning detail a pattern of lies and deceptions by four presidents and their administrations over 23 years to conceal their war plans — along with internal estimates of the high costs and risks of these plans (and their low probabilities of success), never meant to reach the public and provoke debate. They showed very clearly how we had become engaged in a reckless war of choice in someone else's country — a country that had not attacked us — for our own domestic and external purposes.
It seemed to me that to be doing that against the intense wishes of most of the inhabitants of that country was not just bad policy but morally wrong. Moreover, it became clear to me that the justifications that had been given for our involvement were false. Vietnam was not a just war, and never had been. And if the war itself was unjust, then all the victims of our firepower were being killed without justification. That's murder....
Haditha holds a mirror up not just to American troops in the field, but to our whole society. Not just to the liars in government but to those who believe them too easily. And to all of us in the public, in the administration, in Congress and the media who dissent so far ineffectively or who stand by as murder is being done and do nothing to stop it or expose it.
It is past time for Americans to summon the civil courage to face what is being done in their name and to refuse to be accomplices. We must force Congress and this president, or their successors if necessary, to act upon the moral proposition that the U.S. must stop killing men, women and children in Iraq, and must not begin to do so in Iran.
Neither the lives we have lost, nor the lives we have taken, give the U.S. any right to determine by fire and airpower who shall govern or who shall die in countries we have wrongly attacked.Iraq's Pentagon Papers
Ellsberg's plea will, I fear, fall on deaf ears, particularly in the media. To whom will the whistleblowers turn when newspapers and news networks are in bed with the very people who invented this bloodbath in the first place?
The aspect that Ellsberg does not emphasize is what is, literally, in front of our faces. With Nixon, we did not know about the plan to extend the war. With the Cheneyites, they are flatly saying they intend to invade Iran after going through the motions. Again, check out the Wes Clark video of his appearance on the Young Turks and see how long they have been hungering for this invasion of the Middle East.
We cannot claim ignorance about the actions of the government. There is actually very little in terms of the conduct of the war that they are trying to hide - not the under-strength forces, not the lack of grounds for attack, not the rapaciousness of the contractors, and most especially not the contempt in which they hold any who object to what they do. Protests do not matter to them, rational arguments cannot sway them, and there is no force that can stop them. They want what they want, and that's what we, and hundreds of thousands of innocents trapped in a war zone, are going to get.
To the contrary, a large portion of the nation happily reelected this regime to power, preferring lies to the gut-wrenching truth that the US has launched something worse than Viet Nam.
The media will not help depose the dictator this time around. They are even more complacent than the Congress, preferring to print partisan smear jobs of Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid than investigate the biggest foreign policy debacle in our nation's history.
It will take two forces - a steadfast opposition to this war by the population that translates to a Democratic majority in Congress dedicated to stopping the murder in Iraq. The message is clear - this administration is sending our military men and women into an unjustified war, making them into murderers. We support our military against the criminal behavior of the Bush White House. We demand that all wars of convenience stop immediately, and that the US start planning realistic responses to the inevitable fallout of the atrocities the Cheneyites have commited in our name.