Post Publishes Papers

Post Publishes Papers

Ellsberg takes the report to The Washington Post. Though extremely worried about retaliation from the administration, the Post begins publishing the Pentagon Papers. The next day, Attorney General William Rehnquist calls the newspaper, demanding it halt any further publication. Executive Editor Ben Bradlee replies, as had The New York Times, that he “must respectfully decline.”29 Again, the government seeks an injunction from the courts, citing the Espionage Act of 1917. This time the attempts are unsuccessful. Though the courts agree that, in cases of clear national security, a newspaper can be prevented from printing, they rule that the administration had not met the burden of proof for that to occur. In New York, further arguments are heard and the temporary restraining order against the Times is lifted. Judge Murray Gurfein: “The security of the nation is not at the ramparts alone. Security also lies in the value of our free institutions. A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, an ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.”30 The report continues to be published, and on June 28, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upholds the newspapers’ right to publish.31

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Daniel Ellsberg and The Pentagon Papers

Ben Bagdikian remembers how he obtained a copy of the Pentagon Papers, a secret Defense Department history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.

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