.From the Desk of Editor, Brad Kava

Santa Cruz California editor of good times news media print and web
Brad Kava | Good Times Editor

I am saddened by the death of Daniel Ellsberg last week. I got to know the man who was a hero to liberals, intimately. We were handcuffed together and jailed briefly in 1978 at a protest at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado.

Ellsberg, who died at 92, was a former military analyst who became a symbol for the peace movement in 1971 when he released documents exposing lies about the Vietnam War to the press. His effort was documented in the movies The Pentagon Papers and The Post.

After working for newspapers in Santa Cruz (Good Times and the Independent), I moved to Boulder, Colo. to work for a book publisher owned by a former CIA agent. After reading my share of horror stories there, I decided to join the movement protesting the transport of nuclear materials by train around the Rocky Mountains, and joined hundreds of people blocking the tracks. 

As one of the older and more conservative looking people in a troupe of beautiful, wild and tie-dyed hippies, I got lumped in with Ellsberg through the arrests and later the federal trial.

 For me, this was sort of a spring vacation, but for Ellsberg it was a serious job. He was a symbol for the movement and a voice of rationality among the patchouli crowd. He reminded me of a young Paul Newman and his words were gold and brought peace to a crowd that could have gotten angry and ridden off the rails, literally (see Jan. 6, 2021).

secure document shredding

It’s hard being arrested, handcuffed and tossed around by scowling federal officers, but overall they were civil and we did everything we could to be polite and peaceful. The ones who got really ugly were the government’s prosecution team. 

I didn’t know this until after the trial, but prosecutors relentlessly called and threatened my parents back in New York, trying to get them to have me not go to trial. They couldn’t stand the fact that they would have a clean shaven guy in a jacket and tie on the witness stand. 

They told my parents they would make my life hell and I would never get a job again and they would throw me in jail for a long time. I will always thank my parents for not telling me this until after the trial, and for not trying to influence me.

I was found guilty and got probation for a first offense, but I felt like I did my part. The arsenal was eventually closed down. I managed to find jobs afterwards.

The lesson I learned was just how evil the government can be. They never threatened me, but they chose my weakest point–my parents. Why harass those poor people? It was just plain underhanded and malicious. 

But it opened my eyes as a journalist to be sympathetic to those who protest, to question authority, and to know that sometimes conspiracy theories are real. 

And I’ll always think fondly of Ellsberg, who showed us that peaceful actions can speak louder than words.

The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.

Theodore Roosevelt

2 COMMENTS

  1. My late mother was so freaked out by the MPs who with nightsticks banged on my New Jersey family’s hardwood front door at four o’clock in the morning, waking the whole neighborhood up in the process, searching for me, the former ASA candidate now absent without leave. Yes, the gov’t is that stupid, I remember thinking – they figured I’d go back to the family home.

    I was in California at the time, a place I had never been. Then I went to Canada for five years. It took me a while to get over the year spent in Vietnam (Aug ’67-Aug ’68), another place I had never been.

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  2. Brad- you just got me interested in the Good Times.
    glad to know some good folks are working there.
    all the best,
    richard

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