Half a block from the State Department, a bus shelter is now displaying a billboard nearly six feet tall with a plea from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg to “tell the truth with documents that reveal lies or crimes or internal projections of costs and dangers.” On the sign, Ellsberg also urges: “Don’t wait until a new war has started, don’t wait until thousands more have died… You might save a war’s worth of lives.”
The billboard, located on 23rd Street NW in Washington, is scheduled to remain there throughout this month. It’s the first step in public outreach by ExposeFacts, a new organization for whistleblowing that will formally launch on Wednesday morning when the ExposeFacts.org website goes live and the group begins its first day with a news conference at the National Press Club (9:30 a.m., Zenger Room).
NSA whistleblowers William Binney and J. Kirk Wiebe will speak at the news conference along with EPA whistleblower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich, a member of the ExposeFacts editorial board. The ExposeFacts organization is part of the nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy.
ExposeFacts “aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties and war,” the group says -- and its website will feature a whistleblower submission system known as “SecureDrop.”
The June 4 news conference will release a video statement by Ellsberg, who revealed the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The text of that statement, below, is being released now. The actual video will be released Wednesday morning.
Statement by Daniel Ellsberg:
I’m very happy to join with other whistleblowers in supporting an organization called ExposeFacts, whose aim is to encourage whistleblowing and independent journalism, and preserve democracy.
All governments lie, and they all like to work in the dark as far as the public is concerned, in terms of their own decision-making, their planning -- and to be able to allege, falsely, unanimity in addressing their problems, as if no one who had knowledge of the full facts inside could disagree with the policy the president or the leader of the state is announcing.
A country that wants to be a democracy has to be able to penetrate that secrecy, with the help of conscientious individuals who understand in this country that their duty to the Constitution and to the civil liberties and to the welfare of this country definitely surmount their obligation to their bosses, to a given administration, or in some cases to their promise of secrecy.
And as someone who served four different administrations, two Republican and two Democrat, I can say that when officials are assured that they will not be held accountable for their decision-making or for their choices or for their arguments or their considerations, even very intelligent men and women are capable of making crazy policies -- stupid, disastrous -- as we saw in Vietnam, and in Iraq, and right now on the subject of the climate.
The ability to know every aspect of a source’s dealings with a journalist, or with a member of Congress, really is a deadly threat to democracy. ExposeFacts is an organization that intends to counter that effect by making it more possible -- in the face of this technological onslaught -- to making it more possible for sources to tell their truths when government is off the rails here and to make it possible for us to get it back on track, to hold people accountable -- in other words, to preserve democracy itself and its benefits, which are very very great. I’m proud to be a supporter of this organization, and I look forward to the change in atmosphere that it can bring about.
-- Daniel Ellsberg