HuffPo: Mike Gravel, Senator Who Disclosed Pentagon Papers, Backs Edward Snowden
...and says don't waste your time on Congress!
From Ryan Grim's recent interview of Mike Gravel on Huffington Post:
Ellsberg has suggested Congress dig into the matter of NSA surveillance of Americans, but Gravel, while noting his deep admiration for Ellsberg, said he didn't see the point.
"It's just a waste of time when you see the reaction of [Intelligence chair Dianne] Feinstein, of Harry Reid, the Republican leadership, the Democratic leadership." he said. "Anything that would come out of a select committee wouldn't be worth the powder to blow it to hell."
I think this is kind of a quick hit, go look at Ryan Grim's story on Huffington Post, but I want to embed the 1971 raw video too.
Senator Gravel to the press: When I came into possession of these papers, I looked around. And nobody in government had done anything. The only thing that was being done in government was an effort to stifle and hide this stuff. And it just dawned on me that somebody, if we’re going to have any faith at all in our institutions, somebody from government’s gotta be, gotta have the same resolve, the same feelings for stopping the killing as Ellsberg did. As the Post did. As the New York Times did. As the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As all these journal–
–myself, because the people who released it were bureaucrats. They were bureaucrats, the people who we disparage so often. They weren’t elected officials. They were bureaucrats. And they had much less risk than I have. The risk that I have is being expelled from the Senate.
I wonder if he misspoke then about the risk to bureaucrats? Perhaps they faced much more risk, or am I tainted by these times?
Wikipedia has the history.
Ellsberg had for a year and a half approached members of Congress – such as William Fulbright, George McGovern, Charles Mathias, and Pete McCloskey – about publishing the documents, on the grounds that the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution would give congressional members immunity from prosecution, but all had refused. Instead, Ellsberg gave the documents to the Times.
When the Times, the Post and others started publishing and then getting halted by DOJ injunctions, Ellsberg went back to his original idea of having a member of Congress read them and turned to Senator Mike Gravel, who did not fail:
On the night of June 29, 1971, Gravel attempted to read the papers on the floor of the Senate as part of his filibuster against the draft, but was thwarted when no quorum could be formed. Gravel instead convened a session of the Buildings and Grounds subcommittee that he chaired. He got New York Congressman John Dow to testify that the war had soaked up funding for public buildings, thus making discussion of the war relevant to the committee. He began reading from the papers with the press in attendance, omitting supporting documents that he felt might compromise national security, and declaring, “It is my constitutional obligation to protect the security of the people by fostering the free flow of information absolutely essential to their democratic decision-making.”
He read until 1 a.m., until with tears and sobs he said that he could no longer physically continue, the previous three nights of sleeplessness and fear about the future having taken their toll. Gravel ended the session by, with no other senators present, establishing unanimous consent to insert 4,100 pages of the Papers into the Congressional Record of his subcommittee. The following day, the Supreme Court’s New York Times Co. v. United States decision ruled in favor of the newspapers and publication in The Times and others resumed. In July 1971, Bantam Books published an inexpensive paperback edition of the papers containing the material The Times had published.
But the definitive edition of the Pentagon Papers was the four-volume Beacon Press Gravel edition, and the subsequent Supreme Court case Gravel v. United States held that the Speech or Debate Clause did grant immunity to Gravel for his reading the papers in his subcommittee.
Someone should tell Ron Wyden.