Posted on Jan 23, 2018 by Steve Ladd

Ellsberg on the McNamara Scene Reenacted in “The Post” — Watch the Real Scene



Astonishingly, the researchers for Most Dangerous Man in America actually found the film clip of McNamara in 1966 descending from the plane and stepping to the cameras to lie to the press — with me behind him, recognizably! (the filmmakers put a circle around my head).

His lying at that moment was neither disillusioning nor motivating to me.  After all, he’d been lying like that for at least a year (since fall 1965), as well as lying about lots of other things as long as he’d been in office (Tonkin Gulf, remember, was my first day on the job, my first night at the Pentagon, in August, 1964): “unequivocal evidence…unprovoked attack…international waters…routine patrol…we seek no wider war.”  (Both McNamara and LBJ.  The press all ate it up.  I watched that on TV in my first 24 hours as a government employee.)

As I’ve often said: “If you can’t stand official lying, you couldn’t work for the government for two weeks.”  I was in government service or consulting for a decade.

It was, of course, in 1969, what the fifth president in a row was lying about, on these matters — mass murder (as I had come to see it just that summer, after reading the volume in the Papers about the origins of the war) — and my inside knowledge that the murder was going to continue, indefinitely, and almost surely escalate (which it did, in the air), plus the examples of draft resisters who were choosing to go to prison to tell the truth about the war, that it was wrong — that inspired me to follow their example.

What got to me on that occasion in 1966 (I stayed another year in Viet Nam, after all) was the stunning, real-time aspect of the lying: literally a few minutes between McNamara saying to me and Bob Komer on the plane about the war, “That means it’s really worse,” he was telling the press (as he had so often before) that “by every measure we were making progress.”

I remember saying in a tape I sent to someone back in the States, in a kind of sober awe — “Boy, I hope I’m never in a position where I have to lie like that.” 



Posted on Jan 16, 2018 by Steve Ladd

Snowden Credits Ellsberg Film With Inspiring His Actions


Watch Edward Snowden give credit to Daniel Ellsberg and “The Most Dangerous Man in America” film at an awards ceremony for Ellsberg in Germany in 2016 here.


With Spielberg’s The Post film bringing renewed interest in Daniel Ellsberg, The Guardian published a conversation with Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden, who they called “the two most famous whistleblowers in modern history”.

Wrote The Guardian: “Back when Snowden was debating whether to leak secret NSA documents, showing the scale of government mass surveillance, he found inspiration in a 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

Said Snowden: “While I was weighing up whether to come forward or not – and this was an agonizing process because it was certainly life-changing – I watched that documentary. Dan’s example, hearing the arguments from someone who has lived through this, it helps prepare someone to make that jump themselves.”

(also available on DVD)

Snowden and Ellsberg

Posted on Dec 21, 2017 by Steve Ladd

The Pentagon Papers Revisited – by Co-Director Rick Goldsmith

I’ve had more than a passing interest in the splash arrival this month of Steven Spielberg’s movie The Post, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, which covers the Washington Post‘s role, in 1971, in publishing the so-called “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret government study of United States involvement in the then-still-raging Vietnam War.

Judith Ehrlich and I spent four years creating the on-screen story of the man who leaked that Pentagon study to the press, in our 2009 documentary, The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. So I’ve been waiting with bated breath to see what this stellar Hollywood team would do with similar events.

Read the full article on the site of the International Documentary Association —

Posted on Dec 21, 2017 by Steve Ladd

MSNBC to Rebroadcast “Most Dangerous Man in America” Sunday, Jan 7

MSNBC will rebroadccast The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers Sunday, January 7 from 9-11 PM EST (6-8 PM PST). MSNBC first broadcast the film on December 23.

The film is also available to watch online or on DVD at

With only a brief segment in Spielberg’s “The Post” film featuring Ellsberg, the Oscar-nominated Most Dangerous Man in America fills in the full true story of former defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg’s release of the top-secret Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg’s daring act of conscience revealed decades of government lies about the Vietnam War, leading directly to Watergate, President Nixon’s resignation, and a swifter end to the war – as well as a landmark Supreme Court decision expanding press freedom.

Ellsberg was inspired to risk possible life in prison for his actions by the example of draft resisters willing to face federal prison rather than fight in an unjust war.

Most Dangerous Man in America was directed by Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith.

(Daniel Ellsberg interviewed on MSNBC prior to the December 23 broadcast)

Posted on Dec 12, 2017 by Steve Ladd

Watch “Most Dangerous Man” Online Streaming Now

The Oscar-nominated film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers is now available to watch online streaming or download in the player below.

This version is licensed for personal, home use only and may not be used in educational settings or for public screenings.  DVDs for both educational or home use area available to purchase here.  The film also available for streaming to educational institutions through New Day Films.

Posted on Dec 11, 2017 by Steve Ladd

Spielberg’s “The Post” Film Features Ellsberg Story

Steven Spielberg’s much-heralded new film “The Post”, starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, tells the story of the Washington Post’s groundbreaking legal struggles to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. The film is very timely considering President Trump’s attacks on the press.

The Post opens with several scenes featuring Daniel Ellsberg, played by Matthew Rhys. While the scenes are accurate of Ellsberg on a plane with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, copying the Pentagon Papers, and later handing them off to Ben Bagdikian, they are very compressed history and only skim over Ellsberg’s story.

The Most Dangerous Man in America film presents the full story about Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and is must-viewing for anyone who sees The Post film. The film includes the actual footage of Ellsberg and McNamara.

One review of  The Post film praised Most Dangerous Man as “a much more insightful production… which honors the central figure of the controversy with intelligence and dignity.”

The Most Dangerous Man in America is now available to stream online, download or purchase on DVD for home or educational use.

See all options here, or watch below on Vimeo.

Posted on Oct 22, 2016 by crandle

Comparing and Contrasting Assange and Ellsberg

An article at compares and contrasts Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange and their roles in disseminating government and private secrets.

To find out about their take on what makes a “good” leak and what differs between these two, click here.

Posted on Apr 03, 2016 by crandle

Meet Daniel Ellsberg and support director Judith Ehrlich’s latest film

Director Judith Ehrlich has embarked on another film project documenting the history of the Vietnam war resistance.

The Boys Who Said NO! is the story of 3,250 young Americans who tried to stop the Vietnam War by going to prison rather than enter the military. Why did they choose prison? What happened to them? What was their impact on the war and the draft?

To find out more about this compelling film (or pursue the opportunity to have dinner with Judith Ehrlich and Daniel Ellsberg, or lunch with David Harris, co-founder of The Resistance!) click here.

Posted on Mar 08, 2016 by crandle

Edward Snowden’s Dresden Peace Prize speech acknowledges Ellsberg’s inspiration

In a speech presented to the Dresden Peace Prize 2016, Edward Snowden acknowledges the importance of inspiration from Daniel Ellsberg (and “The Most Dangerous Man In America”).

“The film that you recently watched, (“The Most Dangerous Man in America”) is one that I myself watched. But it wasn’t this year or the year before. It was in the year 2012, the year before I came forward. In (Daniel Ellsberg’s) example, seeing what he could see, the choices that he faced, seeing how he struggled with the same sort of moral complexities that I myself was unable to resolve, helped me see that there was a model from people that came forward before. At different – at higher levels! Even more deeply embedded in government understanding. And they came to the conclusion that it was not enough to recognize, that something is wrong. It is not enough to simply raise a good point. We have not just the right but the moral obligation to ourselves and to society if we have the capability to achieve positive result for our families, for the future of our countries.

If I could simplify the connection, I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that without Daniel Ellsberg there could not be an Edward Snowden.”

Click here to see the complete speech by Snowden.

Posted on Jan 04, 2016 by crandle

Ellsberg Inspires Climate Change investigation

In an article at Inside Climate News, writer David Sassoon describes being inspired to pursue investigation into Exxon’s knowledge about climate change by Daniel Ellsberg.

Read his account here.