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AmeriCorps at 20, Dan Fesperman’s “Unmanned,” and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

A radio profile of AmeriCorps service members at work around Maryland; a talk with Dan Fesperman about his drone-warfare novel, Unmanned; and a conversation with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg

“I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier.”  A cynic might assume this is a line from a political campaign speech.  That cynic would be mistaken.  These words are the beginning of a pledge taken by citizens upon their induction into AmeriCorps.  AmeriCorps is often described as ‘the domestic counterpart of the Peace Corps,’ and this weekend, the national service organization celebrates its 20th anniversary.  To honor the occasion, The Signal’s Aaron Henkin brings us a profile of some current AmeriCorps service members at work here in Maryland.


Dan Fesperman’s latest novel explores the shadowy world of drone warfare.  From an Air Force base in the Arizona desert, to a small Afghan village, and Maryland’s Eastern shore, drones are becoming a part of everyday life – and death - for fighter-pilot turned drone operator Darwin Cole. And when a fairly routine mission goes terribly wrong, the collateral damage is not limited to the site of the actual airstrike. Fesperman joins The Signal’s Lisa Morgan in studio with a preview of Unmanned.

Dan Fesperman discusses his novel, "Unmanned"

Daniel Ellsberg on the cover of Time Magazine in 1971

Before government whistleblowers like Snowden and Manning, there was Ellsberg.  Daniel Ellsberg was the first person to be arrested in the US for leaking top-secret information.  In 1971, he made public a stack of seven thousand classified pages that came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.  Ellsberg’s whistleblowing revealed how the US public had been misled by its own government about the Vietnam War.  He’s since been the subject of a documentary called, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” he’s written three books, and on September 17th, he comes to Baltimore to speak at MICA’s annual Constitution Day Symposium.  Daniel Ellsberg joins us by phone from his home in California to talk with The Signal’s Aaron Henkin.

Daniel Ellsberg discusses the Pentagon Papers and his thoughts on current-day government whistleblowers

Aaron creates and produces original radio programs and podcasts for WYPR. His current project is The Maryland Curiosity Bureau. Aaron's neighborhood documentary series, Out of the Blocks, earned the 2018 national Edward R Murrow Award. His past work includes the long-running weekly cultural program, The Signal, and the Smithsonian Folkways Recordings series, Tapestry of the Times. Aaron's stories have aired nationally on NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.