The Deep State and the Doomsday Machine: A Conversation between Peter Dale Scott and Daniel Ellsberg
On this Project Censored Show Mickey Huff interviews Aaron Good, with Scott/Ellsberg excerpts from the Media Freedom Summit 2.0.
Daniel Ellsberg is most famous for leaking the Pentagon Papers and thereby exposing years of official deceptions about the Vietnam War. Previously, he had established himself as a brilliant scholar and analyst. He graduated summa cum laude from Harvard where he would eventually earn his PhD in Economics. As a 29-year-old consultant to the Defense Department, Ellsberg began drafting the guidance from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the operational plans for general nuclear war. Ellsberg also served in the US Marine Corp, the State Department, and the Defense Department. Henry Kissinger described Ellsberg as a “genius” and later, famously, as “the most dangerous man in America who must be stopped at all costs.” From this quote came the title for the 2009 Academy Award nominated documentary about Daniel Ellsberg, The Most Dangerous Man in America. In 2017, Ellsberg was portrayed in Steven Spielberg’s film, The Post. Also that year, he published a memoir The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner to wide acclaim.
Peter Dale Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a poet, writer, and researcher. His prose books include The War Conspiracy (1972, updated in 2008), Crime and Cover-Up: The CIA, the Mafia, and the Dallas-Watergate Connection (1977), The Iran-Contra Connection (in collaboration, 1987), Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies, and the CIA in Central America (in collaboration, 1991, 1998), Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (1993, 1996), Deep Politics Two (1994, 1995, 2006), Drugs Oil and War (2003), The Road to 9/11 (2007), American War Machine (2010), and The American Deep State (2014). His chief poetry books are the three volumes of his trilogy Seculum, including Coming to Jakarta: A Poem About Terror (1989), Listening to the Candle: A Poem on Impulse (1992), and Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000. In November 2002 he was awarded the Lannan Poetry Award. An anti-war speaker during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars, he was a co-founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley, and of the Coalition on Political Assassinations (COPA).
Back Story, by Aaron Good
The Deep State and the Doomsday Machine: A Conversation Between Peter Dale Scott and Daniel Ellsberg
These interviews were the result of several fortuitous threads coming together. While at teaching and studying at Temple University, I met Oliver Stone at a conference where I had presented a paper on Oliver Stone’s JFK with Temple University Professor Joan Mellen who had written two great books on Jim Garrison and the Garrision case. Weeks after I met him at the conference reception, Oliver contacted me saying that he liked my paper and we thereafter exchanged occasional emails. After finishing my graduate coursework at Temple University, I got a job teaching history at George School, a Quaker boarding school outside of Philadelphia. At the request of Rider University professor Cindy Lucia, I edited my JFK paper for inclusion in an anthology on the films of Oliver Stone. At that point, I reached out to American University professor Peter Kuznick—the cocreator with Oliver Stone of The Untold History of the United States. I sent him the essay, he thought it was great and he encouraged me to give Untold History a similar treatment, which I did. Soon after, I had the idea of creating an elective history course on the American Century which utilized Untold History and films addressing the American empire, including several of Oliver’s works. To promote the course, Peter appeared at George School with Oliver who skyped in since he was finishing The Putin Interviews. In 2018, Peter Kuznick connected me to his good friend Daniel Ellsberg. At Peter’s recommendation, Dan agreed to speak at George School and even to graciously promote my American Century class. He flew into the Philadelphia airport where I picked him and proceeded to spend the next few days with him. He first spoke at Swarthmore College, then on 4/4/2018—the 50th anniversary of the MLK assassination—I interviewed him in front of a George School audience (video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZYjg1vFWs4).
Peter Dale Scott I first encountered through his interviews on the internet and soon after through his books. My academic work was initially influenced by FSU prof Lance deHaven-Smith’s work on SCAD’s—high crimes that subvert or even nullify democracy. Going back even further than Lance, Peter was one of the few thinkers who had done serious academic work addressing cataclysmic events like the Kennedy assassination, so I reached out to him with occasional emails, sending him papers and such over the years. At some point in 2018, it occurred to me that I should try and get Daniel Ellsberg and Peter Dale Scott together for an interview. I knew that they were very close friends because Peter included this fact in a footnote to Deep Politics and the Death of JFK. I also knew that they lived close to each other in the Bay Area. I mentioned the idea to both gentlemen and they enthusiastically both agreed. George School takes professional development seriously, so they fund conference visits for teachers. The Project Censored Media Freedom Summit was taking place in October at Marin College and to make this trip worthwhile from a professional development perspective, I organized a panel entitled Propaganda and the Deep State. It included Peter Phillips, Mark Crispin Miller, Abby Martin and myself and it was moderated by the indefatigable Mickey Huff. The next day, I got to drive all around the Bay Area to pick up Peter and Dan and take them to the College of Marin where we sat down to record over four hours of interviews. Suffice it to say that the times I have spent with these two luminaries are among my most treasured memories. I’m thrilled that we can bring this historic conversation to your listeners.
Producers: Anthony Fest & Dennis Murphy, special thanks to John Bertucci