The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
Rating (out of 5): ****
A fascinating theme emerges early on in Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith's Oscar-nominated documentary The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers: that the same circular thinking and one-upsmanship games inevitably will overtake hyper-insulated circles once their belief system come under fire. Whether they be grassroots activist groups, major media companies, the Department of Defense or the White House -- the wheels come off with striking similarity and lead to fantastic collapses.
Daniel Ellsberg began as a researcher in the State department for the Johnson administration on the day of Gulf of Tonkin incident. A true Cold War believer, his department was tasked with compiling evidence of violence against Americans in the region that would enable White House policy advisers to construct an explanation for why the war on Communism was about to be expanded. But after years of amping up reports of petty criminal acts and masking false alarms with his credibility, Ellsberg enlisted in the Marines to gain a perspective on Vietnam he felt he wasn't getting it through high-level security intelligence briefings. He was shocked to learn that military strategists had invented investigative ground campaigns out of whole cloth and the sum of the war consisted of dropping millions of pounds of bombs on an underdeveloped nation. Upon his return he came to realize that the combination of Congress' deference to the Executive branch and battling egos within by then-President Nixon's team meant the war could conceivably go on until the United States ran out of bombs or the American people chose to stop it.
Read the rest of my review at Greencine.