Ellsberg: “I Am Grateful to Snowden for Having Given Us a Constitutional Crisis … a Crisis Instead of a Silent Coup”

What Snowden Has Revealed … Is a Broken System of Our Constitution, And He’s Given Us the Opportunity To Get It Back

Daniel Ellsberg told Amy Goodman:

[Snowden] came to believe, as I did, having made those oaths initially and the promises of nondisclosure, which were not oaths, but they are contractual agreements not to do that, which he later violated, as I did—he made those in good faith, by everything known to me, and came to realize, I think, eventually, as he said, that a nondisclosure agreement in this case and the secrecy conflicted with his oath, so help me God, to defend and support the Constitution of the United States, and it was a supervening—a superseding authority there that it was his responsibility really to inform the public, because, as he said, he could see that no one else would do it.


Congress knew [that Clapper’s statements that the NSA doesn’t spy on the American people] hey were false, the people he was talking to, the dozen, even the man who had asked the question, Senator Wyden. What we saw, what Snowden saw and what we all saw, was that we couldn’t rely on the so-called Oversight Committee of Congress to reveal, even when they knew that they were being lied to, and that’s because they were bound by secrecy, NSA secrecy and their own rule. The secrecy system here, in other words, has totally corrupted the checks and balances on which our democracy depends.

And I think the—I am grateful to Snowden for having given us a constitutional crisis, a crisis instead of a silent coup, as after 9/11 an executive coup, or a creeping usurpation of authority. He has confronted us. He has revealed documents now that prove that the oversight process, both in the judiciary, in the FISC, the secret court, and the secret committees in Congress who keep their secrets from them, even when two of them, Wyden and Udall, felt that these were outrageous, were shocking, were probably unconstitutional, and yet did not feel that they could inform even their fellow colleagues or their staff of this. What Snowden has revealed, in other words, is a broken system of our Constitution, and he’s given us the opportunity to get it back, to retrieve our civil liberties, but more than that, to retrieve the separation of powers here on which our democracy depends.

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