On Aug.6, Dennis Bernstein interviewed legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg following his 89th arrest for resisting nuclear weapons, at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, which designs new nuclear weapons and conducts plutonium research.
“The Hiroshima bomb that was dropped on August 6 was the second largest act of terrorism in human history. Nagasaki three days later was the third largest act of terrorism. The largest one-day act of terrorism in human history was March 9 and 10, 1945, when we burned Tokyo and killed between 80 and 120 thousand people in one night. We did it with napalm, invented at Harvard University. This was used on humans because it sticks to your skin and burns through. It was very good for burning buildings and people. They also used white phosphorus and other incendiaries, with the intent of burning as many people as possible.”
“The atom bomb came into the world for Americans in the worst possible way for them to understand the implications of the nuclear era. Imagine if Hitler had come out first with the bomb. It would have been recognized as the quintessential Nazi weapon, a weapon of extermination of civilians. That would have been the number-one war crime at Nuremberg. It wouldn’t have won the war for them. It might have destroyed London, Liverpool, but it wouldn’t have won the war. But people would have been hanged for it, and not just the decision makers, all of the scientists. I am not for capital punishment, but I think that trials for war crimes can be very useful. Unfortunately, because we had been doing the bombing, we didn’t charge them with their bombing of civilian centers. In effect, we wrote that off from war crimes. Because we didn’t want to put ourselves in the dock – either for the atom bomb or for what had happened earlier – we didn’t charge them.”
►Listen to Daniel Ellsberg in studio on Hiroshima 74 years later
►Read edited transcript of the interview here