United States v Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo: Selected Testimony (1973)
United States District Court, Central District of California

Testimony of Anthony Russo (excerpts)

DIRECT EXAMINATION by Leonard Weinglass:

Q Mr. Russo, where do you presently reside?
A My residence is in Santa Monica, California.
Q How long have you lived in Santa Monica?
A Since the summer of '64.
Q With whom do you reside?
A I reside with my wife, Katherine Barkley.
Q Are you presently employed?
A I have been unemployed since June 18th, when the litigation-when I began to become concerned with litigation in this case.
Q June 18th of what year?
A June 18th of 1971. That was right after the Pentagon Papers were released and-. . . .
Q Prior to this morning, just now, have you ever had occasion to hold those ten documents in your hands?
A Yes, back in the fall of 1969 when I Xeroxed them.
Q Prior to your Xeroxing them, had you seen them?
A No.
Q Since the occasion of their being copied, have you seen them?
A Only here in the courtroom.
Q When these ten documents were copied, were you alone?
A No.
Q Who was with you?
A Daniel Ellsberg, Linda Sinay.
Q Just engaged in the copying process?
A Yes.
Q Anybody else engaged?
A Robert Ellsberg, Dan's son was there on occasion.
Q Now, you refer to the fall of '69. Would you indicate how long a period of time these particular documents were copied?
A It was a period of several weeks.
Q On how many separate occasions?
A My best recollection is around eight, give or take a few, around eight times.
Q Do you recall where they were copied?
A Yes. They were copied over a flower shop at an advertising agency at the corner of Melrose and Crescent Heights in Hollywood.
Q What time of day were they copied?
A Usually after the work day, beginning around dinnertime on into the night.
Q Was Daniel Ellsberg always present during the copying of the documents?
A Yes, he was.
Q Did you on any of those eight occasions bring the documents of the exhibits to the place where they were copied?
A No, I did not.
Q Did you on any of those eight occasions leave with the exhibits?
A No, I did not.
Q When the copying was completed?
A No...
Q At the time the copying was done, did you know where the exhibits came from?
A Yes. They came from Dan's safe at Rand.
Q At the time the copying was done, did you know where the exhibits went after the copying was completed?
A Yes. He would take them right directly back to the safe in his office.
Q Do you know how, sir-sorry, strike that. Did you know how at the time of the copying Daniel Ellsberg obtained these exhibits?
A I knew that they had come from Washington.
Q And did you find that out?

A After we began to copy.
Q In addition to the people you've already men­tioned who were engaged in the copying, was there anyone else present at the advertising agency while the copying occurred?
A Yes. On one night-I believe it was just one night-there was a friend named Kimberly Rosenberg there, and on another occasion there was a gentleman who is a friend of both Dan's and myself named Vu Van Thai.
Q Was Mr. Thai there on more than one occa­sion?
A He was only there once.
Q Did Mr. Thai engage in any of the copying?
A No, he did not. He sat in the next room.
Q And in the course of that evening, did you see Mr. Thai do anything in connection with any of these documents?
A I saw him holding a document case and read­ing it. Could I explain?
Q Yes. Explain the circumstances of his holding the document.
A Yes. I had been sitting in the next room talk­ing with Mr. Thai. I was talking about research work I had done. I was talking about a paper that I had written which was about the Vietnamese war. It was about the relationship be­tween social and economic factors and resistance in Vietnam; that is, the fighting. My papers showed that the United States was in Vietnam fighting the war against the poor people. Mr. Thai and I were discussing this. We were discussing the rela­tionship between economic classes and the strength of resistance in Vietnam.
Mr. Thai is a very, very knowledgeable man. I found that he had read a great deal in the literature; that is, in the political science work that is done here in the United States, and I found him to be very interesting, so we chatted on and on about that and about a lot of other things. Then, at one point, Dan, who was in the next room at the Xerox machine, said, "Hey, Thai, look at this." He came into the room and said, "Thai, read that. Isn't that interesting?"
Thai took the book and read a few pages and handed it back to Dan.
Q Was that the full extent of his contact with any of these documents?
A That's the only time I ever saw him have any contact. I said to myself at the time, "My goodness, those things have top secret marks. We should be a little more careful than that," but it's very interesting, you know - you know - when you're reading something and you're a scholar­-
THE COURT: Excuse me, Mr. Russo. Redirect your question.
THE WITNESS: Well, I want to explain. It will just take a minute.
Q Now, during the eighteen-month stay in Viet­nam; do you recall what work you were doing for the Rand Corporation?
A Yes. I went to Rand-I mean, I went to Viet­nam to join Rand's field operation for the Viet Cong motivation and morale project, the so-called Viet Cong Motivation and Morale Project-and I say so-called, because I don't like the name "Viet Cong." It really doesn't describe those members of the Vietnamese independence movement properly, but since it is known as that, I will call it the "Viet Cong Motivation and Morale Project."
That project was done by Rand for the De­partment of Defense, and there was an operation in Vietnam, a headquarters in Saigon, where several Rand people administered interviews with prisoners that were taken by the U. S. Army, by the Marines, by the Saigon Army, and my job was to administer a team of Vietnamese interviewers.
There were about four or five interviewers, and we traveled all over the country.
Q Did you yourself, in connection with your work on the project, render any report to any of the agencies of the government?
A Yes. There was one report called-that was a research memorandum called "Some Findings of the Viet Cong Motivation and Morale Study."
I wrote one report for the Air Force that had been-at the request of the Air Force. They wanted us to take all the information out of the interviews that we had on anti­-personnel weapons, so I did that. I went through all the inter­views, pulled out all the information on anti-personnel weapons. We went-the interviews were quite lengthy, and a lot of times the prisoners, the refugees, the defectors would tell us about how it was to live under the bombing.
And the Air Force wanted to know what the effect of the weapons was. They were very interested in that.
So I went through all the interviews and pulled out all the information on the anti-personnel weapons. The anti-personnel weapon is a weapon which is designed to kill human beings. It is not designed to destroy property.
In Vietnam over half the tonnage that is drop­ped is anti-personnel weapons. The problem is, more often than not, the anti-personnel weapons fall on civilians.
I saw in the interviews many examples of young children who would pick up an anti-personnel weapon that hadn't gone off-they were very shiny sometimes, and they are very attractive to kids who happen along and don't know what they are.
So, on many occasions a kid would pick this up, take it home, show it to his parents, and then it would go off and kill the whole family. I saw many instances of this back in 1965, 1966. They were also dropped in North Vietnam. In the Rand interviews there are also examples of anti-personnel weap­ons being dropped in North Vietnam. So, I wrote up a report that was about 30 or 40 pages long which outlined this. I was kind of secretly hoping that when the Air Force saw how badly these things were for people who they got dropped on, that maybe they'd quit using them. But I think I was very naive be­cause they never quit using them. They escalated using them. By now they have dropped something like six million tons of these anti-personnel weapons and they drop them at the rate of 30 pounds every time you snap your fingers.
Q Now, in connection with your work on the Viet Cong Motivation and Morale study, was that work cited in any of the exhibits which are before you?
A Yes, it is. It's cited in the Exhibit No, 6-no, it's not here before me, It's in Exhibit 6 which is Volume IV.A.5....
Q With respect to your interviews with pris­oners, is there anyone in particular, any particular interview that you can recall down to this date?
A Yes. There was one particular interview that I did.
MR. NISSEN: Object to that as immaterial, your Honor, what particular interview he might have had that he can recall.
THE COURT: Overruled.
THE WITNESS: There was one particular inter­view that I remember to this day. I don't remember the man's name, but I remember his file number in the Rand system. His file number is AG132, This man was the strongest man I have ever met, that is, his constitution, his personality. He was the strongest man I have ever met in my life. It had quite an effect on me because it was in the spring of 1965. It was about three months after I had gotten to Vietnam, and I went to the National Interrogation Center in Saigon. That was a holding prison where important prisoners were brought from around the country. The Rand Corporation had an agreement with the National Inter­rogation Center to interview prisoners who were held there. So, I went to the National Interrogation Center, looked at the list of prisoners, and we decided that this one prisoner who was­-he was an education cadre. A cadre is in the independence movement in Vietnam. A cadre is about the same thing as we would call an officer in the U. S. Army. There were cadre, rank and file, like officers and enlisted men. This man was an educa­tion cadre. He specialized in the education of young people. He had joined the movement in 1948 when the war was against the French. He stayed in the movement until he was captured in 1965. His job had been to go around to various villages around Saigon in the provinces surrounding Saigon to teach the young people how to do theater, how to set up group sessions in which they would all write some songs, sing songs, and he was very committed and very sincere. We talked for two days, for two whole days in that cell in that jail in Saigon, and he explained a great deal to me about the presence of America in Vietnam, about what the Vietnamese independence movement was about or what its goals were. It was from him that I first understood what the people in the village think of all this, because the people in the village are the people whose voices are never heard. We very seldom hear from them.
He said that he would-he said that he would never give up. He said that he would never give up no matter how much he was tortured, and he had been tortured very badly because he believed in something.
Now, I had thought up until then that these Viet Cong were indoctrinated fanatics. Well, with that man I learned-and I was to learn later, that there is a difference be­tween indoctrination, fanaticism and a real commitment. I found out really what he was committed to because he told me about how the French had wiped out his entire village, his home village. The French had wiped it out. He told me about how be­ tween 1960 and 1965 how his village had been attacked. He explained to me how when a person is indoctrinated or if they're simply brainwashed, then, under very tense situations like when the village is attacked in combat, in very tense situations the indoctrination doesn't mean anything. It falls apart. Unless you really become committed to something-unless you really inter­nalize certain things, then it doesn't do you any good in a tense situation like that. I knew that he was telling me the truth be­cause this man, after many months of being tortured, after sitting there in that jail cell, he, on the second day of the interview -on the second day of the interview we had built up rapport. We liked one another.
On the second day he recited poetry to me. He sang a song to me. He said that that was a poem which he always recited when he got downhearted, and it was a very moving experience. I came to know the Vietnamese people. You see, even now­-
(Pause while Russo--and many spectators--wept.)
THE COURT: All right, Mr. Russo.
Give him some water....
Q Could you explain briefly the circumstances of your leaving the study?
A Yes. I left because the result of the study were being altered because the truth about who the Vietnamese people were, the truth about the Vietnamese independence movement were not being told. The reports were being used. They were being used to promote the role of the Air Force. Lies were being told left and right, and I left. . . .
Q Did you remain in the employ of the Rand Corporation after your return?
A Yes.
Q How long did you remain in their employ at the office in Santa Monica?
A Until January 3, 1969.
Q That would be approximately one year?
A About that.
Q During that year in Rand Santa Monica, would you briefly describe the nature of the work that you were doing?
A Yes. I brought back a great deal of information from Vietnam that I collected during the fall of 1967. It was, for the most part, quantitative numerical information, the agri­cultural census, in addition to a village census.
When I got back to Rand I took that informa­tion and put it on the computer and began to make computer runs for the study that I have already mentioned, the economic and social correlates of government control in South Vietnam.
Q Now, drawing your attention to the month of May, 1968, did anything of an unusual nature happen in terms of your employment?
A Yes. I think I was fired from Rand.
Q When did you finally leave Rand?
A January, 1969.
Q During that year at Rand, January '68 to January '69, did you have occasion to see Dan Ellsberg?
A Yes. My office was right across the hall from Dan's office at Rand, and we spent a great deal of time talking to one another about our experience in Vietnam, and in March of 1968 Dan organized a seminar at Rand around the topic of lessons learned in Vietnam. It was a seminar that was attended by all-most of the people at Rand who had worked on Vietnam research.
Q Would those seminars meet periodically?
A Yes. Those seminars met about once a week. . . .
Q When you left Rand as a full-time employee in January of 1969, did you remain on any capacity with the company?
A Yes. I remained on the roles as a consultant to the Rand Corporation.
Q Did you know when your consulting role was terminated?
A In August of 1969.
Q Between January 3, 1969 when you left and August of 1969, did you have occasion to render consulting services to the Rand Corporation?
A Yes, I did for one day.
Q Do you know what the security clearance was, the status of it up to the time that you terminated as a con­sultant?
A Yes. It was top secret.
Q Do you know whether or not your status re­mained top secret after the time that you were terminated?
A Yes. My understanding was that the security clearance was good for a period of several months after termina­tion. . . .
Q Now, in those conversations [with Ellsberg], did you learn of the work that Dan Ellsberg was doing at the Rand Corporation?
A Yes. He was doing work on lessons learned from Vietnam.
Q Did he indicate to you what materials he was reading in connection with that work?
A Yes. He said he was reading a study that was very interesting.
Q Did he ever reveal to you up to October 1st, 1969 or thereabouts, the name of that study?
A No, he did not.
Q Were you aware of his possessing the Mc­Namara task force study prior to on or about October 1st, 1969?
A No, I was not.
Q Incidentally, did you know of the existence of that study?
A Yes, I had learned about the McNamara task force study; that is, the Pentagon Papers in February of 1968 when I came back from Vietnam. I was told by a Rand Corpora­tion Vice President, Gus Shubert, about the existence of the McNamara task force and about the nature of the study that they were doing.
Q Now, did you ever, between the time you returned from Europe and on or about October 1st, 1969, ask Daniel Ellsberg about the task force study?
A Yes. I asked him on several occasions about the task force study because I had understood that it was a histo­ry of policymaking, a history of decision-making, American de­cision-making in Vietnam. I was very interested in that topic, and I had asked him on several occasions about this, but he was always unresponsive. He never told me anything about it.
Q Prior to October 1, 1969, did you know whether or not he had worked himself on the McNamara task force study?
A No. It came as a surprise. I didn't know he had worked on that task force.
Q Did there come a time in the month of Sep­tember, 1969, when you and Dan Ellsberg had a conversation relative to your work in Vietnam?
A Yes. On the beach in front of his house.
Q Do you recall who was present?
A Just he and myself.
Q Other than the fact of the month of Septem­ber, . . .
A I was talking about the experience I had had at the village level in Vietnam, and Dan was talking about the experience he had had at the upper levels of the government, at the decision-making level, and I remarked to Dan that it seemed as though I had seen a very definite pattern of lying and de­ception, or alteration of the facts throughout the entire experi­ence I had had.
And Dan said that he had had very much the same experience; he was coming to the same conclusion, and that he was reading a study which showed patterns of lying and deception with regard to the U. S. policy in Vietnam.
Q Shortly after that, on or about October 1, 1969, did you have occasion to have another conversation with Dan Ellsberg?
A Yes. One morning he called me up and asked me if I was going to be home; he would like to come over to see me at my house.
Q Did he come over that morning?
A Yes. He came over very shortly after the phone call.
Q Was there anyone else home at your house?
A No.
Q Did you have a conversation?
A Yes.
Q Do you recall the substance of that conversation?
A Yes. Dan said, "Do you know that study I told you about?" I said, “Yes." He said, "I want to get it out. Can you arrange for us to Xerox it? Do you know anyone who has a Xerox ma­chine?" And I said, "Yes, I do, and I will try to arrange it."
Q Do you recall what time of day that conversa­tion took place?
A It was in the late morning.
Q Did Dan Ellsberg have any documents on his person at that time?
A No.
Q Following that conversation, what did you do?
A Following that conversation I called Linda Sinay and asked her if I could use her Xerox machine that night.
Q Who was Linda Sinay?
A She was a person who ran an advertising agency in Los Angeles, and I had had occasion to know her for about six months, and we had done work together.
Q Following the conversation with Linda Sinay, did you have another conversation that same day with Dan Ellsberg?
A Yes. I called Dan back and said that I had arranged to use the Xerox machine that night.
Q Did you subsequently, on that same day, see Dan Ellsberg?
A Yes. We met at the advertising agency and we began to Xerox these documents.
Q Once again, on how many occasions did the copying take place?
A About eight occasions.
Q Who were the persons who were doing the copying?
A Dan, myself, Linda Sinay; on occasion there was Robert Ellsberg, Dan's son, and I believe on occasion there was Mary Ellsberg, Dan's daughter.
Q Now, you mentioned Vu Van Thai this morning. Was he there on more than one occasion?
A He was only there once.
Q Was he copying?
A No.
Q How long did he remain in the premises?
A No longer than an hour. He was waiting for us to go to dinner.
Q Did you all go to dinner that night?
A Yes.
Q Will you indicate to the court and jury just what it was you did on those occasions in connection with the exhibits that are before you?
A Yes. I would take one of these documents (in­dicating) and hold it on the Xerox machine and copy the con­tents.
Q Approximately how long a period of time would the documents remain in your hands in that fashion?
A Just while I was using the photocopy machine.
Q To your knowledge did the documents, after they were copied that are before you, the exhibits, leave the Linda Sinay Advertising Agency on the same night in the same condition they were in when they arrived?
A Yes.
WEINGLASS: Your Honor, that completes the direct examination.

Q Did you read any of the study volumes on the second copying session, sir?
A No. I didn't read any of these volumes. I read copies, but I didn't read any of these volumes.
Q So during the copying sessions, when a copy was produced, you would read that, sir?
A Sometimes. . . .
Q Now, at the time that you and Mr. Ellsberg undertook on October 1 to commence this copying project, you were aware personally that the government has regulations con­trolling the dissemination of classified documents, weren't you?
MR. BOUDIN: Object, immaterial.
THE COURT: Overruled.
THE WITNESS: I was aware that the executive branch of the government had rules that were very confused because I could never tell the difference between something that is marked "classified" and something that really is classi­fied in the sense that it relates to the national defense.
Now, at the time I wasn't as informed about that as I am now, but I did have some notion of it at that time. . . .
Q Well, sir, did you ever discuss with Mr. Ells­berg any authority that he might have for bringing the exhibits you were copying to Miss Sinay's office?
A Yes.
Q When did that conversation occur?
A We talked on numerous occasions about how, in many contexts, that the agreement to keep secrets about crimes that had been committed was a criminal thing. . . .
Q You did know that Defendant Ellsberg had obtained each of those documents that were being copied from the Rand Corporation?
A I knew that the documents came from the Rand Corporation, yes.
Q And you knew that Defendant Ellsberg had been furnished access to them in connection with official duties he was to be engaged in for the Department of Defense did you not?
MR. BOUDIN: Object to the form, materiality, lack of foundation.
THE COURT: Overruled.
THE WITNESS: I think any American who cared about his country, who knew what we did, would consider it to be an official duty to get these documents to the Congress and to the American people.
MR. NISSEN: We move to strike the answer as non-responsive, your Honor.
THE COURT: Read the question. (Question read.)
THE COURT: The answer is stricken.
THE WITNESS: I have problems with the nar­row definition of "official duties." For me the duty of an Ameri­can citizen is total, and it's defined by the Constitution.
THE COURT: The question relates to, at the Rand Corporation, not other duties. . . .
Q At the time of the copying. session, sir, you were aware that a person could not be given access to classified material without a security clearance, weren't you?
A Well, Mr. Nissen, I had seen-in Saigon I had seen the government officials give out material that was stamped "classified" to newspapermen all the time. . . .
Q Sir, at the time that you participated in the copying sessions, you believed, did you not, that classified ma­terial could not be given to a person unless he had a security clearance?
A I believed at the time that the rules were such that we were breaking them, because the rules were designed to serve special interests in the government.  If a government official had some information that was classified that supported what he wanted to do, he would leak it, or he would leak it if it tended to make him look good.
Always in Vietnam the U. S. government was leaking or passing out classified information that would tend to make them look good. If it didn't make them look good, then the strict rules applied and it couldn't be given out. Everybody knows that who has any contact with the system.
THE COURT: Excuse me. The latter part--­
MR. NISSEN: We move to strike the witness’ answer after the statement that he believed the rules were being broken. . . .
Q You knew at the time that the exhibits which were being copied were handed to you, Miss. Sinay, Robert Ellsberg, Mary Ellsberg, and Vu Van Thai, that none of those people, including yourself, had then a security clearance?
A That is correct. I knew they didn't have a security clearance.
Q During court proceedings in this case, sir, you did in the courtroom hand to a government witness, William DePuy, a defense press release accusing him of being a war criminal; did you not, sir?
A I did, and I do think that General DePuy is a war criminal. I think­-
REDIRECT EXAMINATION by Leonard Weinglass:
Q During any of those occasions at the Linda Sinay Advertising Agency which you have testified about in the fall of 1969, did you and Daniel Ellsberg have a conversation respecting why he took the documents from the safe at the Rand Santa Monica office to the advertising agency?
A Yes. To get the documents to Senator Ful­bright, to the Congress, and ultimately to the American people, because they had a need to know...
Q When you said, Mr. Russo, that you didn't believe defendant Ellsberg had stolen the documents, you did believe that he had brought them to Linda Sinay's advertising agency without the authority of anyone, did you not?
A No, that's not a correct statement.
Q You did believe that he was not authorized to copy them, did you not?
A Mr. Nissen, I think he was authorized to copy those documents.
Q Who was it that authorized it, sir?
A I think that the facts speak for themselves; that the documents speak for themselves. When the American government has been keeping secret for 28 years United States policy in Vietnam, I think that speaks for itself. I think the docu­ments speak for themselves, sir. . . .
Q What did you mean by the word "stolen," when you answered that question?
A Depriving the Rand Corporation of their use. If they had been stolen­-
THE COURT: That answers the question...
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