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Thu Apr 8, 2021, 08:33 PM

The Deceit and Conflict Behind the Leak of the Pentagon Papers

This discussion thread was locked as off-topic by JudyM (a host of the Latest Breaking News forum).

Source: New Yorker

Fifty years ago this spring, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, a seven-thousand-page top-secret history of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The study revealed systematic lying to the American people by four U.S. Presidents, from Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson. The Nixon Administration tried to halt publication by the Times and the Washington Post, but was thwarted by the Supreme Court in a landmark victory for press freedom. A federal judge’s subsequent dismissal of criminal charges against Ellsberg, which carried a sentence of up to a hundred and fifteen years in prison, was seen as a validation of whistle-blowing.

All of this is well known. But the death, in January, of Neil Sheehan, the Times reporter to whom Ellsberg leaked the papers, brought new revelations, which have altered the heroic narrative surrounding the historic leak. The process was more contentious, combative, and duplicitous than was previously understood. In hours of interviews recently, Ellsberg revealed new details about his struggle to leak the papers, including that he provided portions of them to officials at a left-wing Washington think tank before the Times published. He vented about the extent to which Sheehan had deceived him about the newspaper’s intentions to publish the papers without ever telling him that the decision had already been made. And he provided new information about how Sheehan had surreptitiously made a copy of the papers, defying Ellsberg’s direct request that he not do so. When Ellsberg later gave Sheehan a copy of the papers, the journalist did not reveal that he already had one. “It turns out that Neil and I were both very much in the dark in 1971 as to what the other was thinking and doing, and why,” Ellsberg said recently.

A Harvard graduate who became a zealous marine and then a committed Pentagon Cold Warrior, Ellsberg turned his back on the culture of secrecy that he had long served in order to leak the papers. Convinced that President Richard Nixon, like his predecessors, would continue the war, Ellsberg hoped that the documents’ release would shorten American military involvement in Southeast Asia. Fifty years later, it is clear that the publication of the Pentagon Papers did just that—but in a way that Ellsberg never expected.

Ellsberg, who turned ninety on Wednesday, lives with his wife, Patricia, in the hills above Berkeley, California; their house is nestled in a grove of redwoods, with a sweeping view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge. Still one of the country’s leading symbols of dissent, Ellsberg said that his story shows that more whistle-blowers are needed to keep Presidents, and all of Washington officialdom, on the constitutional straight and narrow. “I had been convinced that it was Nixon’s intention to continue the war in the air throughout his term,” he recalled. After Ellsberg leaked the documents, Nixon’s obsession with destroying him prompted the President to commit various crimes that culminated, ultimately, in his resignation from office. “In short, the criminal actions that the White House took against me were extraordinarily revealed in ways that led to this absolutely unforeseeable downfall of a President, which made the war endable.”


Read more: https://www.newyorker.com/news/american-chronicles/the-deceit-and-conflict-behind-the-leak-of-the-pentagon-papers

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Reply The Deceit and Conflict Behind the Leak of the Pentagon Papers (Original post)
brooklynite Apr 8 OP
elleng Apr 8 #1
regnaD kciN Apr 8 #2
FailureToCommunicate Apr 8 #3
JudyM Apr 8 #4

Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 08:50 PM

1. I'm ready for ANOTHER movie on the subject!

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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 08:56 PM

2. I don't want to argue with Ellsburg's view of things...

...but his notion that, somehow, the campaign against him led to the end of the war is somewhat fanciful, seeing as America ended its military involvement in Vietnam in January, 1973 -- at a time when Nixon had just been re-elected in a landslide, and several months before Watergate was revealed to be anything more than the "second-rate burglary attempt" Nixon's defenders claimed it to be.

Although those of us on the left back then may hate to admit it, while our earlier efforts may have made the crucial difference of changing public perception to the point that some form of bringing U.S. involvement in Vietnam to an end (as opposed to what we see right now in Iraq and Afghanistan) became inevitable, we had zero effect on the time-frame of that end; Nixon was determined to stick to his gradual-withdrawal "Vietnamization" plan, no matter how many more tens of thousands of U.S. forces lost their lives in the interim, and nothing we did could move that needle one millimeter. In fact, the progressive movement of the time extinguished itself in the effort, as Nixon's 1972 landslide victory proved. He won; we (all) lost. And the fact that he had to eventually resign in disgrace makes no difference as to that outcome.

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Response to regnaD kciN (Reply #2)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 10:13 PM

3. Sadly, I would have to agree. We all really thought we were ending "the war" but, maybe

only helped to end it somewhat sooner, if that.



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Response to brooklynite (Original post)

Thu Apr 8, 2021, 11:22 PM

4. Locking

Alerted on as an analysis piece. Belongs in GD instead, thanks.

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