Ellsberg, 82, was the hero at St. John's Presbyterian Church in Berkeley Tuesday night. But the man who made history by leaking the Pentagon Papers, which showed how the U.S. government lied about the Vietnam War, had even higher praise for Edward Snowden, who leaked information about the U.S. secret surveillance program.
"I don't ever think there's ever been a more significant disclosure than what he's made," Ellsberg said. "It gives us the chance that I thought might never come to change the situation of total surveillance by the government."
Inside, the liberal crowd gave boos and hisses to President Barack Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, because of the surveillance program, which Ellsberg thinks could go back a decade or more.
"That was an impeachable offense under George W. Bush., it is an impeachable offense under President Obama or anyone else who continues that," he said.
Snowden is not without critics.
"He's a traitor; the president outlined last week that there were important national security programs that help keep Americans safe," House Speaker John Boehner said.
But the crowd in Berkeley on Tuesday thought the surveillance was the threat. The debate is only just beginning.