Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: It's All A Conspiracy Edition

Texas Outlaw Writers Newsletter: It's All A Conspiracy Edition

Daniel Ellsberg died a few days ago after struggling with pancreatic cancer. Ellsberg, as you recall, the was whistleblower who leaked what's known as the "Pentagon Papers." The "...papers" was actually a report which contained information about the extent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War and how President Lyndon B. Johnson had escalated the war while promising not to do so. The papers showed that the U.S. had supported France’s colonial war, intervened to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam, and planned to escalate the war even as it claimed otherwise. The papers also revealed that the administration of John F. Kennedy had actively helped overthrow and assassinate South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.

Ellsberg was a Marine, a Harvard grad, (later a Harvard Ph.D. in Economics,) and worked with the RAND corporation. He also worked with the state dept. and was posted in Viet Nam as he gathered information that would later make its way into the reports that he were compiled while he was at RAND. As he began to realize just how deceived the American people were, and just what a hopeless cause it was. "We always knew we could never win."

With a friend (Anthony Russo,) Ellsberg copied the 7,000-page report one page at a time and ultimately leaked it to the New York Times. In addition to his realization that the war was a fiasco, he flipped from being a war hawk to a dedicated pacifist after being inspired by conversations with several draft dodgers. He was inspired that these young men were willing to go to prison for resisting the draft.

Ellsberg knew that he faced life in prison if caught, and indeed, Ellsberg and his friend Russo were charged with espionage, theft, and conspiracy after the Papers were published. The famed Nixon Tapes later revealed "Tricky Dick" Nixon cursing Ellsberg and the sensation that he caused, "Let's get the son of a bitch into jail!" The Dark Lord Henry Kissinger called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America."

When he turned himself in and admitted leaking the Papers, Ellsberg said,

I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public. I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.
-Daniel Ellsberg

Here's where the conspiracies really wrap themselves in conspiracies. Alert Outlaw Writer reader (and friend) Vic Driscoll tipped me to a great interview with Ellsberg that was conducted after he knew his terminal prognosis. Printed in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Vic gave a perfect little synopsis:

"...this article tells me about twice as much as I thought I knew of the Ellsberg affair and its surrounding history. Who knew the Watergate burglars were the same guys who burglarized Ellsberg’s office a year earlier? And it was their ‘unlawful act’ of burglary at the Watergate that years afterward caused the judge in Ellsberg’s trial to dismiss his case of alleged ‘unlawful acts’ of disclosing secrets of the government’s own ‘unlawful acts.’ And it was the ‘unlawful acts’ of the Watergate burglary that provoked Nixon’s ‘unlawful acts’ of the cover-up which led to his ‘lawful’ resignation from Office and the ‘lawful’ conviction of a couple of dozen of his accomplices. ( …..turns out that Nixon and his guys were connected to both burglaries.)"

After the judge dismissed the case of "unlawful acts," it is clear that Ellsberg continued to live a principled life. A life that he had in fact been willing to give up in service to those principles. (He spent many of his last years as a peace activist and advocating for the protection of whistleblowers. He was also a staunch advocate for a free press.)

Pause here for a moment. Count how many lies were told by how many administrations. And how many of those lies snowballed into other conspiracies and deceptions? Who knew you could draw a line from the Pentagon Paper leak to the Watergate break-in?

And the one beacon of light: one principled man changed history for the better. To do that, he risked everything.

The author of the piece in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reminded Ellsberg that he had written how the stated purpose of our nuclear arsenal was “to limit the damage to the United States from Soviet or Russian retaliation to a U.S. first strike against the USSR or Russia.” Ellsberg laughed...

Dan’s laughter was sparked by seeing the goal stated so baldly, especially since both Ronald Reagan and Joe Biden had stated that, “A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
Dan then noted that America’s nuclear posture is “directed toward meeting that mission” (that is, winning a nuclear war), even though such a mission is “infeasible and impossible.” He decried the American nuclear establishment for giving “no importance whatever to expressing in public what their actual aims and interests and options are.” He also noted that Russia does roughly the same thing and that this refusal to acknowledge reality has to change.
"And another thing that I’ve learned, and that I think is not sufficiently appreciated, is that men in power are willing to risk world annihilation rather than to accept a short-term loss. And it’s not a question of realism or unrealism, it’s a willingness to gamble. They know it’s not likely to succeed, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do it, because there is a chance that it may succeed, which is enough to get them to gamble the world.
Our presidents have that power every hour of every day."
                                      -interview by By Martin E. Hellman

Sleep well, my pretties.

There really was a time in this fair land when lying could be the end of a politician’s career. Not so much anymore. Lying is just another campaign tactic, and denial is important a skill as fundraising. In fact, Americans have heard, in the era of Trump, so many lies and half-truths that we are beginning to lose our ability to know what are the facts. And nobody seems to pay the price for all of this. Outlaw Jim Moore has been wondering about some of our history’s and our culture’s greatest lies and the coverups that came along behind them, and he finds himself wondering just how a country can survive if it never takes ownership of its true history…

Gullible’s Travels | Texas Outlaw Writers
“The first of all the forces that rule the world is the lie.” ― Jean-François Revel

And let's keep the conspiracy ball rolling. Roger wants to keep a promise to a MAGA guy who jumped into our discussion on his explanation of the Trump indictments in last week's newsletter. He rashly promised to discuss the evidence surrounding the latest conspiracy du jour, the Joe Biden Ukrainian Bribery Affair. Given the paucity of said evidence, he had a tough time stretching it to more than a paragraph.

(and rest assured that poor Roger put in all this work for naught. All that reporting, fact-checking, and even-handed analysis will be answered with the anguished cry, "WHATABOUT HUNTER BIDEN? TAX EVASION! GUNS! DRUGS! AND ONLY PROBATION???" <sigh> But take a look, it's a great outline of that whole Biden/Ukraine conspiracy thingee.)    

The Biden Ultimatum | Texas Outlaw Writers
...or is it “The Biden Identity” or “The Biden Supremacy” or “The Biden Whatever”?

Would you believe that the South withheld the truth about Emancipation from the slaves in Texas and beyond? This last Monday was Juneteenth which commemorates the day that Union General Gorden Granger issued the order proclaiming freedom for the slaves of Texas. We sent out a "Special Holiday Edition" from Myra who wrote a great piece in commemoration of this now national holiday. If you missed it, here's the link:

Texas Outlaw Writers | A Juneteenth Special Edition
President Biden signed Juneteenth into law making it a federal holiday. The “back story” of this celebration, serves as a poignant reminder of how fragile freedom can be, especially at a time when personal liberties are being challenged in Texas and other red states.

Although we're currently not doing a regular podcast, we've left that channel open so we can periodically post pieces as time and inspiration allows. A few days ago, I got to interview a friend of mine that I've had the pleasure of working with from time to time. Brian Huberman is a documentary filmmaker and a professor at Rice University.  He's quite the character. He grew up in England but longed to move to Texas to be nearer to, (wait for it,) The Alamo. He lives part-time in San Antonio because, well, The Alamo. And did you hear the story about Dennis Hopper (the star of Easy Rider) visiting the Rice Media Center and inviting the film students out to watch him perform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act? (Yeah, it is truly as insane as it sounds.) And Brian was there to film it.

TX Outlaw Writers’ Podcast: Brian Huberman Remembers the Alamo
Film professor and documentary filmmaker Brian Huberman Remembers the Alamo through his art. Who better to study Texas history than a Brit?

(the podcast link is inside the article, or you can listen to it here, or wherever fine podcasts are served.)