I’ve known Mike for over 45 years. I interviewed him several times, for radio and blogs, between 1973 and 2011. He’s probably most famous outside of Alaska for reading the Pentagon Papers aloud in the U.S. Senate in late June, 1971, while serving in that body. Because of that, I sought him out on the subject of Chelsea Manning when she was arrested (she was then Private Bradley Manning). At the time – April, 2011 – he said:
“My admiration for Bradley Manning knows no bounds. In fact the equivalent of being Bradley Manning would be being me, and [Daniel] Ellsberg being Assange. That’s the comparison.
“And I was 41 years old when I released the Pentagon Papers [to the Senate]. You know, I’d been three days without sleep, and I was just afraid – scared to death – I didn’t know if I was going to go to jail or lose my senate seat, or what have you, and so I wound up, out of fatigue and fear and all of that, sobbing, when I’m putting the papers into the record. I was sobbing. I couldn’t get control of my emotions. So, when Bradley Manning – and I was 41 years old – when Bradley Manning was arrested, they turned around and said, “Well, he’s unstable.”
“Unstable – Hell! – I was unstable!
“He’s not unstable. He has the clearest vision of what his responsibilities [are] – when you go into the military, you swear allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, not to the captain, not to the generals, not to the president or the White House. You swear allegiance to the Constitution.
“Manning was sitting there, watching all these daily reports coming back, and seeing that what was being said there was different from what was being said by the White House. And so, he had the guts and perspicuity to recognize “Do it, and do it right.”
“And – knows the risk, knows the risk. If we don’t get him out some way…..”
He’s a longtime critic of many aspects of U.S. foreign policy. He was the first Democrat to announce a candidacy for the 2008 Presidential election. He was an important provocative figure in the 2007 Democratic Party Presidential debates. During that campaign, he was way ahead of the curve on single payer health insurance. I would put Mike to the left of Bernie Sanders.
I don’t recall Israel ever coming up specifically in any of our interviews or talks. Interestingly, he got his start in Alaska politics with the help of Barney Gottstein, one of the early AIPAC chiefs here. Barney’s son, David Gottstein, was a later statewide head of that same organization.
It would be nice to see former Sen. Gravel get enough donations to qualify for the 2020 Democratic Presidential debates. I’ve donated.