Tag Archives: daniel ellsberg

Pentagon Papers released in full on 40th anniversary of leak

It was 40 years ago when parts of the ‘Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force’, or more widely known ‘Pentagon Papers’, were first leaked to and published by the press.

First by the New York Times, on this very day, 13 June, in 1971, before a court order was won by the government to prevent further publication. Other newspapers followed the Times’ lead, but were soon also restrained. Then at the end of the month the United States Supreme Court ruled publication could resume.

And today, 40 years on from the Times’ first publication of the leaked documents, the report is being released in full by the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Presidential libraries, filling 48 boxes with around 7,000 declassified pages. According to the National Archives about 34 per cent of the report is being made available for the first time, with no redactions and with all the supplemental back-documentation included.

In an Associated Press report on the release, Daniel Ellsberg, the former private foreign policy analyst who leaked the papers, gives his thoughts on the significance of today’s release.

Most of it has come out in congressional forums and by other means, and Ellsberg plucked out the best when he painstakingly photocopied pages that he spirited from a safe night after night, and returned in the mornings. He told The Associated Press the value in Monday’s release was in having the entire study finally brought together and put online, giving today’s generations ready access to it.

NYT: What would Daniel Ellsberg have done with Pentagon Papers if Wikileaks had existed?

Now that it is relatively simple for anyone in possession of leaked documents to publish them directly to the internet, is there any reason to pass them on to a national newspaper?

With the viral advantages of internet publishing and social networking, can dedicated sites such as Wikileaks – which made a huge impact two weeks ago with the release of a classified military video showing the killing of civilians in Baghdad by a United States Apache Gunship – replace mainstream news organisations as the place to take leaked information?

Noam Cohen of the New York Times casts an eye back at the case of Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and asks how it might unravel differently today.

[I]f someone today had the Pentagon Papers, or the modern equivalent, would he still go to the press, as Daniel Ellsberg did nearly 40 years ago and wait for the documents to be analysed and published? Or would that person simply post them online immediately?

Full story at this link…