65 episodes

At the height of the Vietnam War, a government insider named Daniel Ellsberg leaked 7,000 pages of classified documents to American newspapers. The Pentagon Papers revealed that Americans had been lied to for decades about the war. Fifty years later, Ellsberg reveals his evolution from Cold Warrior to Whistleblower in the GroundTruth Podcast series The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg.

Based at GBH in Boston, the award-winning GroundTruth Podcast has covered global affairs from the War in Afghanistan to rising populist nationalism through shoe-leather, on-the-ground reporting.

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At the height of the Vietnam War, a government insider named Daniel Ellsberg leaked 7,000 pages of classified documents to American newspapers. The Pentagon Papers revealed that Americans had been lied to for decades about the war. Fifty years later, Ellsberg reveals his evolution from Cold Warrior to Whistleblower in the GroundTruth Podcast series The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg.

Based at GBH in Boston, the award-winning GroundTruth Podcast has covered global affairs from the War in Afghanistan to rising populist nationalism through shoe-leather, on-the-ground reporting.

    The Whistleblower - Episode 5: The Doomsday Machine

    The Whistleblower - Episode 5: The Doomsday Machine

    Before he was helping plan the Vietnam War, Ellsberg was working at Rand Corporation as a nuclear war planner. In the late 1950’s and early 60’s, he came across a classified policy document that called for killing a fifth of the human population. “This, to me, was pure evil.” When he was facing trial for releasing the Pentagon Papers, he held another trove of secret documents on the Pentagon’s plans for nuclear war. His plan was to release these, most likely from prison. But in a strange twist, a natural disaster interrupted his plans.

    In the series finale, the whistleblower leaks documents on U.S. nuclear policy in the Taiwan Straits written by his colleague Morton Halperin at the height of the Cold War. The documents, embedded below, are still considered classified, and could put him at risk of prison time.

    This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg

    • 40 min
    The Whistleblower - Episode 4: Most Dangerous Man

    The Whistleblower - Episode 4: Most Dangerous Man

    Now facing a possible 115 years in prison, Daniel Ellsberg awaits his federal espionage trial. Meanwhile, Nixon unleashes his Plumbers in an attempt to silence Ellsberg, and Barbra Streisand sings for the defense! In this episode we trace the series of events that tied Daniel Ellsberg’s espionage trial to the fate of Richard Nixon’s presidency.

    This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg

    • 34 min
    The Whistleblower - Episode 3: The Presses Roll

    The Whistleblower - Episode 3: The Presses Roll

    On September 30, 1969, Daniel Ellsberg opened his newspaper to a story out of Vietnam that would act as the trigger for copying the Pentagon Papers. We pick up on this wild ride when he offers the papers to members of Congress, who shrugged him off. He then went to the New York Times, the first publication of the papers landed on the front page on June 13th, 1971. Over the next 13 days, an FBI manhunt swept the Boston area for Ellsberg and his wife Patricia. Upon turning himself in, Ellsberg had sent copies of the papers to 17 newspapers around the country.

    This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Learn more here: http://umass.edu/ellsberg

    • 44 min
    The Whistleblower - Episode 2: The Force of Truth

    The Whistleblower - Episode 2: The Force of Truth

    Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press knowing he could face the rest of his life in prison. But what turned this Cold War hawk into an anti-war dove? What were the motivating events and people who influenced his transformation? At 15, a tragic car accident would shape his sense of responsibility to the wider world. His time in the Marine Corps strengthened his dedication to serving his country. But in 1968 he would begin an unlikely encounter with another faction, the anti-war movement. Their dedication to serving the truth would lead Ellsberg to a massive act of dissent.

    • 39 min
    The Whistleblower - Episode 1: The Lying Machine

    The Whistleblower - Episode 1: The Lying Machine

    In the series premiere, we pick up on Ellsberg’s first day at the Pentagon, the day he became acquainted with what he came to call the “lying machine.” It was August 4, 1964. Contradicting accounts of an attack in The Gulf of Tonkin would give President Johnson the green light to lead the country into war in Vietnam based on a lie. We follow this thread, and the deception, through his time in the field in Vietnam, where he saw how the lies on the ground made their way back to Washington. Back home, Ellsberg observes the power of leaking government lies: His very first leak to The New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan helped to end a presidency.

    This podcast series is part of a wider collaboration with UMass Amherst and GBH, including a two-day conference presented by GroundTruth and UMass Amherst on “Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg” featuring a conversation between the Pentagon Papers whistleblower himself and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. RSVP here: https://www.ellsbergpapers.org/conference/

    • 53 min
    The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg TRAILER

    The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg TRAILER

    Americans across the country opened their newspapers to the first reports based on classified documents leaked by a government insider, Daniel Ellsberg. Consisting of 7,000 pages of top secret documents, the Pentagon Papers revealed in cold, analytical detail how four presidential administrations lied to the American public: the reasons for entering the war, the failures of their policies, the low chances of success, and the reasons for staying the course. But for Ellsberg, the facts were overwhelming, the lies, extraordinary, and the dissonance too deafening for him to simply stay the course, as so many other administration officials had done.

    This 5-part podcast series sheds light on the pivotal moments and role models that motivated Ellsberg to risk 115 years in jail in service to the truth. The series also explores his role as a nuclear planner, firmly convinced that a nuclear war would vanquish the human race in his lifetime. In exclusive interviews with Ellsberg, he reveals his evolution from Cold Warrior to whistleblower, the legacy of truth and dissent in the U.S., and their implications for our democracy today.

    This season of the GroundTruth Podcast is part of a year-long public history project in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and GBH, Boston and was made possible through the generous support of the UMass Chancellor’s Office.

    • 4 min

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