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Candor and Afghanistan
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, and Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. (AP)

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, left, and Adm. Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, during a news conference at the Pentagon, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2009. (AP)

Dire warnings, made public today, by the top U.S. general in Afghanistan. “More Forces or ‘Mission Failure,’” is the headline in The Washington Post. Taliban victory. U.S. defeat.

My guests today say listen carefully, past the headline. Daniel Ellsberg, in 1971, leaked the Pentagon Papers that changed the country’s understanding of the Vietnam War.

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s right-hand man at the State Department, called the case for war in Iraq a hoax.

This hour, On Point: The push for more troops in Afghanistan.

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Daniel Ellsberg joins us from Berkeley, Calif. He had been a top-level defense analyst at the Defense Department and State Department and was working as an analyst at the RAND Corporation in 1971, when he leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers to The New York Times. He served as a rifle platoon leader in the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1950s. He is the subject of a new documentary called “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”

Joining us from Williamsburg, Va., is Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (U.S. Army-Ret.). He was chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell from 2002 to 2005. A former director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia, he’s now a professor of national security studies at George Washington University and of government and policy at the College of William & Mary. He has been an outspoken critic of the George W. Bush administration and its case for the Iraq war.

Joining us from Berlin is George Packer, staff writer at The New Yorker. His article “The Last Mission” — about Richard Holbrooke, Afghanistan, and the ghosts of Vietnam — appears in current issue. His most recent book is “The Assassins’ Gate: America in Iraq” (2005).
 

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