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Secrecy, Freedom and Empire: Lessons for Today from Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers
Recorded: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Daniel Ellsberg began his Vietnam-era career as a U.S. Marine company commander, a Pentagon official, and a staunch supporter of U.S. global interventionism. But, in October 1969, Ellsberg—fully expecting to spend the rest of his life in prison—smuggled out of his office and made public a seven-thousand-page top secret study of decision making in Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers. At this upcoming Independent Policy Forum, Ellsberg will tell the story of his becoming the most important whistle-blower of the last fifty years, risking his career and his freedom to expose the deceptions and delusions of U.S. leaders from Truman onward. Based on his new book, Secrets, Ellsberg provided an insider’s view of the secrets and lies that have shaped decades of U.S. foreign policy to the present. His exposure began on his first day at the Pentagon, August 4, 1964, which was also the day of the infamous Gulf of Tonkin incident. In time, the more he learned from top decision-makers, confidential documents, and reports of secret maneuvers, the more skeptical he became about the conduct and impact of U.S. foreign policies.

The release of the Pentagon Papers set in motion a chain of events that included a landmark Supreme Court decision, the arrest and trial of Ellsberg, the crimes of Watergate, and the end of the Nixon presidency and the Vietnam War.

As the U.S. pursues the current War on Terrorism, Ellsberg’s insights into governmental intoxication with power could not be more timely or important.

This special evening with Daniel Ellsberg and a distinguished panel of scholars, Barton J. Bernstein, Edwin B. Firmage, David R. Henderson, and Jonathan Marshall discussed “Secrecy, Freedom and Empire: Lessons for Today from Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.”

Experts: Daniel Ellsberg
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Defense and Foreign Policy, History (International)

       
Comments

Big Brother is Watching
Recorded: Thursday, June 6, 2002

To outsiders, its initials once stood for “No Such Agency.” To its employees, they stood for “Never Say Anything.” Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nation’s spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agency—or its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.

Experts: James Bamford
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Constitutional Law, Defense and Foreign Policy, Democracy, Freedom, Government Waste/Pork, History (U.S), Law Enforcement, Politics, Technology, Terrorism and National Crises

       
Comments

Gore Vidal on Understanding America’s Terrorist Crisis
Recorded: Thursday, April 18, 2002

Filmed before a live audience on April 18, 2002, renowned author Gore Vidal rejects the blind “patriotism” expected by government officials and the mainstream media, and investigates U.S. foreign policy throughout recent history, showing how it has contributed to the terrorist crisis. With his famous wit and insight, Vidal also demonstrates the ways in which the “War on Terrorism” is being used to curtail civil liberties and shred the Bill of Rights.

Experts: Gore Vidal
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Civil Liberties/ Human Rights, Culture/ Society, Defense and Foreign Policy, Political Ideology and Philosophy, Terrorism and National Crises

       
Comments

Pearl Harbor: Official Lies in an American War Tragedy?
Recorded: Wednesday, May 24, 2000

The great question of Pearl Harbor: what did U.S. government officials know and when did they know it? Ithas been argued for years. After decades of Freedom of Information Act requests, Robert Stinnett was finally able to examine the long-hidden evidence, shattering every shibboleth of Pearl Harbor. He finds that not only was the attack expected, it was deliberately provoked through an eight-step program devised by the Navy for President Franklin Roosevelt. Could Pearl Harbor have neither been an "accident" nor a mere "failure" of U.S. intelligence nor a "brilliant" Japanese military coup? Could the tragedy at Pearl Harbor have been a carefully orchestrated design, initiated at the highest government levels in order to galvanize a peace-loving American public to go to war? Robert Stinnett will discuss this startling issue in detail.

Robert B. Stinnett

Former Journalist, Oakland Tribune and BBC.

Author of the books, George Bush: His World War II Years and Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor.

Experts: Robert B. Stinnett
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Government Secrecy, History (International), History (U.S), Nationalism, Politics, Terrorism and National Crises

       
Comments

Freedom, Terror, and Falsehoods: Lessons from the Twentieth Century
Recorded: Wednesday, January 19, 2000

The 20th Century has witnessed state-sponsored carnage on an unprecedented scale. What made this era so susceptible to Hitler’s “Final Solution,” Stalin’s Gulag, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” Pol Pot’s killing fields, and other atrocities? Does the answer lie in the rogue ideologies that found acceptance among society’s intellectual elites—“isms” that elevated the dictates of the State over the rights of the individual and the institutions of civil society? Celebrated historian Robert Conquest discusses the rise of these ideologies—and how to protect the 21st Century from their destructive grip.

Experts: G. Robert A. Conquest
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Freedom, Government Power, Government Secrecy, Terrorism and National Crises

       
Comments

The New Path for Africa: Establishing Free-Market Societies
Recorded: Wednesday, April 28, 1999

Why has Africa, despite its rich history, cultures, and abundant resources, largely remained in the grip of dictatorship, starvation, genocide and war? How can this tragic legacy of colonialism, socialism, and plutocracy be replaced with the welfare of economic liberalization, individual rights, and the Rule of Law? Based on his new book, "Africa in Chaos," award-winning economist George Ayittey will examine the record of American statism and the revolution for free-market societies.

George B. N. Ayittey Professor of Economics, American University Author, Africa in Chaos and Africa Betrayed

David J. Theroux Founder and President, The Independent Institute

Experts: George B. N. Ayittey
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Civil Liberties/ Human Rights, Defense and Foreign Policy, Economic History and Development (International), Free Market Economics

       
Comments

Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War: How Government Can Mold Public Opinion
Recorded: Thursday, October 7, 1993

What happens when government goes unchallenged, and when questions regarding present or proposed policies go unasked? With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War, for example, Americans are increasingly wary of foreign conflicts. Yes, American forces are still active in Somalia and are being called for in the Balkans and elsewhere. To understand how government officials may seek to shift public opinion on unpopular programs, John MacArthur has found understanding the precedents set during the war against Saddam Hussein to be most insightful.

In his presentation, Mr. MacArthur will draw upon his widely acclaimed book, Second Front: Censorship and Propoganda in the Gulf War, to scrutinize the government's campaign to tightly control the American media during Operation Desert Storm. With a reporter's critical eye and a historian's sensibility, he will trace decades of press-government regulations – during Vietnam, Grenada, and Panama – which helped set the stage for restrictions on Gulf War reporting and for a government public-relations triumph.

In his talk, Mr. Macarthur will detail the behind-the-scenes activities during Operation Desert Storm by the U.S. and Kuwaiti governments as well as the media's being co-opted while its rights to observe, question, and report were heavily restricted far beyond and needs to protect American lives. He will demonstrate how, despite a torrent of words and images from the Persian Gulf, Americans were systematically and deliberately kept in the dark about events, politics, and simple facts during the Gulf Crisis.

Drawing upon frank and startling interviews, Mr. MacArthur will discuss how the Pentagon, after locking out the press in Grenada and Panama, pooled, censored, and escorted the media under armed guard in the gulf to a degree seldom seen before in America's wars. As a result. the media may have merely become glorified government stenographers, uncritically accepting such stories as the Kuwaiti babies being snatched from incubators by Iraqui soldiers, the precision of "smart bombs," the exaggerated size and morale of Hussein's forces, and the nature of losses on both sides. In revealing the workings of propoganda, Mr. MacArthur will question the impact and need for such extraordinary government power.

Experts: John R. MacArthur
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Bureaucracy and Government, Civil Liberties/ Human Rights, Defense and Foreign Policy, Diplomacy and Foreign Aid, Entertainment, Government Power, Government Secrecy, History (International), Terrorism and National Crises

       
Comments

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