Pentagon Papers

Pentagon Papers

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon aide and a RAND Corporation analyst, leaks a top-secret Department of Defense report on the history of U.S. political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 to Neil Sheehan of The New York Times. The newspaper publishes excerpts from the report, soon known as the Pentagon Papers. The first article begins, “A massive study of how the United States went to war in Indochina, conducted by the Pentagon three years ago, demonstrates that four administrations progressively developed a sense of commitment to a non-Communist Vietnam, a readiness to fight the North to protect the South, and an ultimate frustration with this effort — to a much greater extent than their public statements acknowledged at the time.”28 The report exposes the secret history of the conflict and widens the credibility gap between the Nixon administration and the American people. Incensed and embarrassed, the government attempts to prevent the publication of additional stories based on the Pentagon Papers by, for the first time in U.S. history, trying to use the court system to stop a newspaper from printing. The government succeeds in getting a temporary federal injunction against the Times.

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Obtaining the Pentagon Papers

Bill Kovach remembers helping The New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan get the Pentagon Papers out of Boston and down to New York.

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