CU students are often learning new things and having new experiences; Thursday night was an opportunity for some to learn even more.
Students explored 20th century political history by watching the documentary, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”
The 2009 documentary portrays the life of Daniel Ellsberg, his time working in the Pentagon, his switch from hawk to dove and the ultimate decision to leak the Pentagon Papers, thousands of pages of secret documents exposing the truth about the Vietnam war.
The event, which featured a viewing of the film followed by a Q&A with Ellsberg via Skype, was co-sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and David Maple, a political science professor.
As director of the Keller Center for the First Amendment, Maple said he felt this film was quite appropriate.
“Daniel Ellsberg is very famous in First-Amendment history,” he said. “I was approached by the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center to screen this film and get in contact with Daniel Ellsberg.”
Some students who attended said they were pleased with the film.
“I thought it was a compelling story,” said Raymond Dau, an 18-year-old freshman aerospace engineer major.
Dau said that he thought that the sacrifice for integrity Ellsberg showed, is lost currently.
“[I noticed] just how the humans now a days, they sacrifice integrity, they sacrifice honesty for monetary gain just to advance their ambitions,” he said.
Arteum Lozinsky, an 18-year-old psychology and international affairs major, said he agreed with Dau.
“We see so much of this corporate sacrifice, sacrifice of one’s self in order to make money,” Lozinsky said. “Instead, you never see a story of someone who sacrifices for principle.”
He said he also enjoyed the Skype session with Ellsberg.
“I thought is was pretty cool,” he said. “I took a picture and a short video clip just for memory.”
Ellsberg spoke about the papers, Vietnam and the connections he sees between what happened then and what is happening now with the war in the Middle East. He stated that this war, like the one a few decades ago, is impossible to win.
“Stupid, foolish, unfounded as that estimate would be,” Ellsberg said. “That this is a war that promises some kind of success.”
He also said that the lack of a draft could be the cause of current apathy toward WikiLeaks and the war, but that a draft is not at all the solution.
WikiLeaks is a wiki site where people can go to leak information about anything they feel is important.
Ellsberg said he feels the lack of a draft is ultimately a good thing.
“Certainly the absence of the draft is a part of that [apathy],” he said. “But I am not a fan of having a draft. You would have bigger demonstrations and bigger wars.”
Ellsberg also talked about how people are unwilling to risk their own futures for ethical concerns.
“Career trumps conscience almost 100 percent,” he said. “There are people who leak anonymously. A very few resign, but do so silently and don’t jeopardize their future careers by speaking out against their recent teammates.”
Another message that was emphasized by the film was the importance of freedom of the press, and the risk Ellsberg and the publications were taking.
“The publication of [the Pentagon Papers] by 19 different newspapers, all of whom were defying the judgment expressed by the president and the attorney general,” he said. “They did subject themselves to the possibility of legal actions.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Isa Jones at Alexandra.email@example.com.