A week after Secretary of State John Kerry invoked the name of Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg while denouncing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, a billboard featuring Ellsberg calling for more whistleblowers has gone up just outside the Department of State headquarters in Washington. There will be a ribbon-cutting for the billboard at 11 a.m. Friday, with two former State Department officials doing the honors.
The billboard serves as an implicit challenge to Kerry, who declared on May 28: “There are many a patriot — you can go back to the Pentagon Papers with Dan Ellsberg and others who stood and went to the court system of America and made their case. Edward Snowden is a coward, he is a traitor, and he has betrayed his country. And if he wants to come home tomorrow to face the music, he can do so.”
Ellsberg shot back late last week with an op-ed piece titled: “Snowden would not get a fair trial — and Kerry is wrong.”
The billboard, sponsored by the new organization ExposeFacts.org, features a photo of Ellsberg — who was the first person on the ExposeFacts advisory board — and a quote from him: “Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died, before you tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers. You might save a war’s worth of lives.”
The ribbon-cutting for the new billboard will take place on Friday (June 6) at 11:00 a.m. ET. The billboard is at a bus shelter half a block south of the State Department on 23rd Street, north of Constitution Avenue.
Doing the ribbon-cutting and making comments will be two former State Department officials. Both are now ExposeFacts advisory board members.
ANN WRIGHT, email@example.com
Wright, a former State Department diplomat and retired Army colonel, helped re-open the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2001. She resigned from the State Department in protest of the Iraq invasion in March of 2003. She said today: “As we stand in the shadow of the State Department, we challenge Secretary of State Kerry and other agency heads to MAN UP and listen to whistleblowers and not force them into going outside the system to resolve government malfeasance, particularly criminal acts committed by government officials.”
MATTHEW HOH, firstname.lastname@example.org
Former director of the Afghanistan Study Group, Hoh is a former Marine and State Department official. In 2009 he resigned from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan (Washington Post, front page, “U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War,” October 27, 2009). Hoh discussed the launch of ExposeFacts.org when he appeared on Huffington Post Live yesterday, interviewed on “Free Speech Zone with @AlyonaMink.” Hoh said today: “I am very much honored and more than a bit humbled to be included in the launch of such a worthy and necessary effort, particularly one bearing the name of Daniel Ellsberg. After over eleven continuous years of service with the U.S. military and U.S. government, nearly six of those years overseas, including service in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as positions within the Secretary of the Navy’s Office as a White House Liaison, and as a consultant for the State Department’s Iraq Desk, I resigned from my position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of war in 2009.
“It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience. It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic, and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy. I trust ExposeFacts and its efforts will encourage others to follow their conscience and do what is right.”
NORMAN SOLOMON, email@example.com
ExposeFacts is part of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where Solomon is executive director. ExposeFacts.org went live yesterday, while the organization launched with a news conference at the National Press Building.