A Life of Activism

Following his unexpected acquittal in the Pentagon Papers trial, Ellsberg began a new life, dedicating himself to advocacy and insightful criticism of government wrongdoing. Among other things, he has been a lecturer, scholar, writer, teacher, and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, wrongful U.S. interventions, government secrecy and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing. In 2006, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in Stockholm, Sweden “…for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example.”

Rocky Flats Truth Force

The Rocky Flats Plant was a manufacturing complex in Golden, Colorado, near Denver, that produced the plutonium detonators, or triggers, used in nuclear weapons. A series of industrial accidents over the course of 40 years combined with the growing anti-nuclear movement spurred grassroots protests by peace and environmental activists in the late 1970s. Ellsberg promoted, helped organize, and participated in the protests alongside other prominent figures such as activist Kwame Ture and poets Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman. 

On April 29, 1978, the Rocky Flats Truth Force blocked the railroad tracks to the Rocky Flats Plant during a blizzard and were subsequently arrested. Continuing actions culminated in a larger demonstration and further arrests in May 1978. Despite their failure to completely shut down the Plant, the size and scope of the Rocky Flats protests represented a high-water mark in the anti-nuclear movement.

The Whistleblowers

Daniel Ellsberg has frequently expressed support for other men and women who have followed in his footsteps by “blowing the whistle” and exposing wrongdoing within private, public, or government organizations. This includes Chelsea Manning, who leaked nearly 750,000 sensitive military and diplomatic documents in 2010, Julian Assange, who founded the website WikiLeaks in 2006, and Edward Snowden, a former computer intelligence consultant who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. Ellsberg has actively supported all three. He traveled to Russia in 2015 to visit Snowden, participated in several Manning support rallies, and testified at the extradition trial of Assange in 2021. Like Ellsberg, all three were charged under the Espionage Act.