Veteran whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg has said that there is "very little doubt" that Donald Trump has a secret plan to trigger a military conflict with Iran, and urged government officials to leak classified files that would expose the outgoing US President.
Ellsberg made his comment on the day that a British court blocked the extradition to the US of Julian Assange on medical grounds.
"There is conspiratorial action on the part of the president that will bring about war with Iran," he claimed. There are several parallels between this, and the attempted prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Assange.
Since 2006, the whistle-blowing website has published a mass of information. Amongst the many leaks were papers providing details of dubious procedures at Guantanamo Bay; American aircraft bombing a village in Southern Yemen in December 2009, killing 14 women and 21 children; a US Army helicopter gunning down two Reuters journalists in Baghdad in 2007; and the US authorities failing to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers.
"I believe, I have very little doubt, there is highly classified planning going on to provoke an Iranian action," said Ellsberg at an online event organised by the Courage Foundation, which supports whistle-blowers. Speaking alongside Noam Chomsky, the 89 year old predicted that the "response to our provocation… will give a pretext to launch an attack as [Donald Trump] has wanted to do for years."
Suggesting that Trump's limited time left in the White House may not deter him from his plan, Ellsberg pointed out that he has 17 or 18 days left to do it. "More than enough time. It's also enough time to block him by an informed public, if that information got out."
He added that he believed the information exists in files that are marked covert or top secret. "I think people who have access to that, I would encourage, I do encourage you to share that information, not only with the Congress, especially the House, and the press, so that we have a chance of avoiding that [conflict]."
The veteran journalist became famous in 1971 when he leaked to several newspapers thousands of classified files that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. They revealed that contrary to what the government and top military officials said, America knew early on in the conflict with Vietnam that it could not win.