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New York Times Reports on Ellsberg’s Release of Taiwan Nuclear War Planning in 1958

May 22, 2021 (EIRNS)—The New York Times has usefully reported on Daniel Ellsberg’s release of classified documents which show the very high level of planning for the use of nuclear weapons against China during the 1958 confrontation over the two small islands under Taiwan control just off the mainland coast. EIR reported on this on May 11, after Ellsberg released the document on the 50th anniversary of his release of the Pentagon Papers on the U.S. criminal actions in the Vietnam War. Ellsberg, and the Times, point out that these discussions about using nuclear weapons are going on again today, with Ellsberg pointing to StratCom commander Adm. Charles Richards saying nuclear war is “likely.”

Journalist Charlie Savage reviews the calls for using nuclear weapons by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (“Nothing seems worth a world war until you looked at the effect of not standing up to each challenge posed.”); by Gen. Laurence S. Kuter, the top Air Force commander for the Pacific, who said to limit the nuclear bombing to the Chinese airfields in order to “forestall some misguided humanitarian’s intention to limit a war to obsolete iron bombs and hot lead;” by Gen. Nathan F. Twining, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, paraphrased saying that if atomic bombings of air bases did not force China to break off the conflict, there would be “no alternative but to conduct nuclear strikes deep into China as far north as Shanghai.”

They quote Ellsberg saying that he wanted to be indicted under the Espionage Act, which is now used regularly to prosecute leakers, saying he would handle his defense in a way that would “tee the First Amendment issues up for the Supreme Court,” as the Times put it. Ellsberg said: “I will, if indicted, be asserting my belief that what I am doing—like what I’ve done in the past—is not criminal,” and further stating that using the Espionage Act “to criminalize classified truth-telling in the public interest” is unconstitutional.

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