A whistle-blower releases details of top secret government operations to the press and unleashes a national debate on whether he is a hero or guilty of treason.
It's happening now with the NSA disclosures and it happened 42 years ago when military analyst Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, detailing the bleak military outlook in Vietnam, to The New York Times. Beyond national security issues, the disclosures in the papers undermined public support for the Southeast Asia policies of President Richard Nixon, whose administration tried unsuccessfully in court to halt their publication.
Ellsberg, now a Kensington resident, was honored last month with a Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award "for his indefatigable defense of a free and uncensored press, and creating an organization to promote and fund aggressive public-interest journalism."
Ellsberg is a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation and frequent guest speaker to local high school classes, as well as on panels examining government transparency, the public's right to know.
"When he chose to leak the Pentagon Papers, many people both within and outside the government derided him as a traitor and suspected him of espionage," the Hefner Foundation stated. "Since that time, many have come to regard him as a hero of uncommon bravery, a man who risked his career and even his personal freedom to help expose the deception of his own government in carrying out the Vietnam War."
Ellsberg -- the author of three books -- has continued to write and be an advocate for the public's right to now. On June 11 he was a scheduled to be a featured member of a panel discussion at St John's Church in Berkeley on civil liberties in the wake of the NSA disclosures.
WEST COUNTY NOTES: Zaki Kabob House at 1101 San Pablo Ave. in Albany is hosting a community event to benefit Albany Schoolcare from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 15. The restaurant, which regularly holds fundraisers for local schools and libraries, will have a magician, balloon twister, a petting zoo and a bounce house in the parking lot. Ten percent of restaurant sales will go to Albany Schoolcare. Details: 510-527-5452.
Proceeds benefit the ongoing restoration of the ship.
"The parking structure replaces all of the surface parking at the station and adds approximately 120 spaces to existing parking capacity, for a total of 760 spaces," according to the Richmond city manager's office. "The existing surface lots east of the station are proposed to be developed with 99 residential units as part of the second phase of the Transit Village development."