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Secret global empire: First whistleblower’s last interview

THE UNITED STATES is still running a covert global empire, said Daniel Ellsberg, known as the “father of whistleblowing”.

And we are “on the edge of blowing up the world over Crimea or Taiwan or Bakhmut”, he warned.

The U.S. has a long history of creating needless conflicts for its own advantage, and it is continuing to do that, taking us to the edge of nuclear catastrophe, said Ellsberg, in what is being billed as a final interview, published by Politico on 4 June 2023. The 92-year-old is dying of pancreatic cancer.

But he doesn’t pull his punches, delivering hard truths about everything from the Ukraine war to the collusion between the US government and the mainstream media.


Daniel Ellsberg became a legend by risking his life to reveal abuses by the US government more than half a century ago. His original expose, known as “the Pentagon Papers leak”, eventually led to the 1970s scandal known as the Watergate affair and the toppling of President Richard Nixon. Ellsberg became known as the father of whistleblowers.

His recently released bombshell final interview comes on the 10 anniversary of Edward Snowden’s arrival in Hong Kong, after revealing that the National Security Agency was engaging in huge amounts of illegal surveillance of its own citizens.

Key points from Ellsberg’s last interview:

  • America still runs a “covert empire” around the world.
  • It holds global power through dominating NATO.
  • The mainstream media is “complicit” in allowing the US government to keep secrets it has no right to withhold.
  • Any notion Americans are ever the “good guys” abroad “has always been false.”


On more specific topics, Ellsberg is again far more willing to speak difficult truths than people in the media. He says the US uses fake narratives to create conflicts.

Ellsberg’s contribution to history was to expose the “deceptions and lies that led to the Vietnam War — and 58,000 American deaths,” says Politico. There is a clear line between that and the deceptions and lies that justified the Iraq war, decades later.

But those are just two of many conflicts. The average American knows little about U.S. orchestrated coups, despite the fact that there are so many of them, in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Chile and so on, he says.


Today, America continues to generate conflicts around the world—while pretending that it has stopped. In 2021, as the Taliban effectively chased American troops out of Afghanistan, Joe Biden declared that the United States was “ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries”.

He was not telling the truth, Ellsberg says. Both sides of US politics and their mainstream media collaborators want to maintain the US’s secret global empire. “Democrats in this area are as shameless as Republicans,” he told Politico.

 “I very much accepted the idea that we were a force for democracy in the Third World…”

And on Ukraine? Yes, says Ellsberg, Washington did push its seat of power eastward toward Russia’s borders to deliberately provoke the invasion of Ukraine.

This high-level deceit extends to America’s current drone war policy around the world, in which the government has allegedly covered up the number of civilian deaths it causes.


People may try to dismiss Ellsberg as a conspiracy theorist, but the criticism may not stick. Politico staff also spoke to Christian Appy, a University of Massachusetts historian writing a book on the first whistleblower.

Ellsberg is not a conspiracy theorist, as his research is dependable, Appy said. “I think he is more careful than some people. In the last 10 years he has placed more stock on the military-industrial complex underpinnings of U.S. power, that they really do have huge influence on sustaining this huge imperial footprint around the world. And after all, we still have 800 military bases on foreign soil, and we conduct exercises in 25 countries.” (Fridayeveryday has calculated that the current number of known U.S. bases abroad is about 748.)


Like many people who have left western government or mainstream media, Ellsberg began his working life with a firm belief that he was on the side of the “good guys”.

He was a Harvard-educated U.S. Marine who went to work for the Defense Department and Rand Corp.

 “I very much accepted the idea that we were a force for democracy in the Third World, as in Korea, and the former colonial world, and for self-determination, for sovereignty, for peace. We were the good guys,” Ellsberg said.


But that all changed when he discovered that government created lies, to be delivered by the mainstream media, with the specific purpose of misleading the public and escalating a war in East Asia, specifically Vietnam. The same thing is happening today.

Ellsberg’s words have been echoed by many independent voices, mostly famously that of Julian Assange: “When we understand that wars come about as a result of lies peddled to the British public, and the American public, and the publics all over Europe and other countries, then who are the war criminals? It is not just leaders. It is not just soldiers. It is journalists.”

Assange, like Ellsberg 50 years ago, was arrested and jailed.


Ellsberg said that it was still worthwhile to speak out, because so much is at stake.

“When everything is at stake — I’m talking about nuclear war implicitly here, but climate is the same—when we’re facing a pretty ultimate catastrophe; when we’re on the edge of blowing up the world over Crimea or Taiwan or Bakhmut,” he said.

“From the point of view of a civilization and the survival of eight or nine billion people, when everything is at stake, can it be worth even a small chance of having a small effect? And the answer is: Of course. Of course, it can be worth that. You can even say it’s obligatory.”

Daniel Ellsberg was interviewed by Michael Hirsch of Politico. A link to the full interview is provided in the story, or just click this line.

Image at the top is by Anete Lusina.

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