Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Debts are owed, but they can't always be repaid

Hm... my brain had stored this somewhere, but I'd forgotten it was that Senator Gravel -- the same one currently running for the Democratic nomination:
Daniel Ellsberg was the defense intellectual who leaked the study to newspapers. But it was Gravel who turned it into a public document, one everyone can read. As the Nixon adminstration was busy trying to enjoin their publication in court, Gravel, the 41-year-old senator from Alaska, had called an extraordinary two-man night "hearing" of his Subcommittee on Buildings and Grounds. He began reading aloud from the four thousand page typescript. He started at 9:45 PM. "The story is a terrible one," Gravel warned. "It is replete with duplicity, connivance against the public. People, human beings, are being killed as I speak to you. Arms are being severed; metal is crashing through human bodies." Then, he began to weep. Word of mouth spread; aides and reporters working late started filtering into the hearing room. He read for three hours and then recessed, noting to reporters he might be risking expulsion from the Senate. He stopped at 1:12 AM, promising to continue the next day. By then, he had broken out in sobs once more.
As Rick Perlstein notes, this means we all owe Sen. Gravel a great debt -- by entering the Pentagon Papers in to the Congressional Record, Sen. Gravel cut the knees out from under the Nixon Administration, which was trying to sue the press in to submission. (Poor Nixon. If only he'd survived a decade longer, he needn't have bothered.) Congressmen can't be sued for acts in Congress, so Gravel's move made the Pentagon Papers a public-domain document for all to read.

That said, Sen. Gravel does seem to be a nutter these days. So no, I wouldn't think people should be voting for him. If you need more evidence, read the rest of Rick Perlstein's post.

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