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Daniel Ellsberg ‘How to Stop Nuclear War’ Documentary in the Works (Exclusive)



A feature doc about Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, dubbed “the most dangerous man in America” by then US President Richard Nixon, is in the works.

Director Paul Jay’s How to Stop a Nuclear War is based on the book Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner by Ellsberg. In extensive interviews with Jay for the feature, Ellsberg explains the “institutional madness” of American nuclear war plans and how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made the world far more dangerous, according to a synopsis by the filmmakers.

Ellsberg famously made copies of the Pentagon Papers and classified nuclear documents during the Nixon administration and leaked the documents to the New York Times and other media outlets in 1971. As a high-level Pentagon analyst, Ellsberg was charged by the US with breaking the Espionage Act.

But the case was dismissed for a lack of evidence that his Vietnam War papers leak caused physical harm or deaths. Despite that exoneration, Ellsberg has since remained an infamous outsider.

In the upcoming feature doc, still in production, Ellsberg warns that the nuclear weapons arsenals of the US and Russia are still very much a threat to global peace and that an all-out nuclear war remains capable of being launched from missile silos or submarines on a few minutes’ notice.

Jay, a veteran producer and co-founder of the Hot Docs International Documentary Festival, directed Hitman Hart: Wrestling With Shadows. He will helm How to Stop Nuclear War, while Rob Johnson (Taxi to the Dark Side) will executive produce.

Toronto-based Jay is also founder, editor-in-chief and host of, a news analysis service, and The Real News Network. He also executive produced the CBC television magazine series CounterSpin and the TV series Show Me Yours.

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