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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)


The U.S. War on Terrorism: Myths and Realities
Recorded: Tuesday, September 24, 2002

"Nothing will be the same after September 11." This is the view offered since the announcement of the war on terrorism, a "permanent war" declared with an ill-defined objective and unclear enemies. At this upcoming Independent Policy Forum and based on his new book, Theater of War, Lewis H. Lapham will instead discuss with intelligence and wit why the recent behavior of the U.S. government is consistent with that of past administrations. Politicians have long fostered pork, corporate welfare, government surveillance, and global interventionism that have created a more dangerous world. Now, we face the prospects of a major war in Iraq combined with the Orwellian USA PATRIOT Act, TIPS domestic spying program, Department of Homeland Security, incarcerations without charge or trial, militarized domestic law enforcement and airport security, and national ID cards.

Until recently, hearing skeptics of the "permanent war" has largely been a rarity. For example, as Lapham points out: "Ted Koppel struck the preferred note of caution on November 2 when introducing the Nightline audience to critics of the American bombing of Afghanistan: 'Some of you, many of you, are not going to like what you hear tonight. You don't have to listen.'" Unpopular, informed opinions seldom appear on the network news, and since the destruction of the World Trade Center, dissenting voices have been few and far between. However, Lewis Lapham is a major exception, questioning the motive, feasibility and morality, as well as the imperial pretension, of an infinite and dangerous, U.S. global-war crusade.

This special program with Lewis Lapham and a distinguished panel of journalists, Alan W. Bock, Jonathan Marshall, Seth Rosenfeld, and Paul H. Weaver, discusses the "U.S. War on Terrorism: Myths and Realities."

Experts: Lewis H. Lapham, Seth Rosenfeld, Paul H. Weaver
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Terrorism and National Crises


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


The Real Abraham Lincoln: A Debate
Recorded: Tuesday, May 7, 2002

Many Americans consider Abraham Lincoln to be the greatest president in history. His legend as the Great Emancipator has grown to mythic proportions as hundreds of books and a monument in Washington, D.C., extol his heroism and martyrdom. Is Lincoln’s reputation deserved? Lincoln defender Harry V. Jaffa (author of the new book, A New Birth of Freedom) will argue that Lincoln was a model statesman who stuck by high-minded principles as he fought to promote liberty. Lincoln critic Thomas DiLorenzo (author of the new book, The Real Lincoln) will argue that Lincoln was a calculating politician who waged the bloodiest war in American history not to free the slaves, but in order to build an empire that rivaled Great Britain’s. Was Lincoln a great hero or a villain? Did he honor the promise of America—or betray it?

Experts: Thomas J. DiLorenzo, Harry V. Jaffa
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: History (U.S)


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


Conning Americans: How Politicians Create Dependence on Government
Recorded: Wednesday, February 13, 2002

"Dependence” on government has grown at unprecedented rates over the past 70 years. This ominous trend has coincided with the growth of centralized government power, which at its own discretion is used to regulate, manipuate, or prohibit. Driven by bipartisanship, bureaucracies, and interest groups, and accelerated by presidential ambitions, this trend has been so profound that few today can imagine life without government control. Economist and historian Charlotte Twight, one of the leading experts on politics and privacy, showed how special-interest politics created the income tax, Social Security, Medicare, surveillance of ordinary citizens, and other linchpins of the “dependence-state,” which in turn have made opposition to centralized control seemingly futile. She will then offer a strategy to reverse this trend in order to fulfill the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Experts: Charlotte Twight
Type: Independent Institute Event
Issues: Bureaucracy and Government, Government Waste/Pork, Welfare