At the height of the Vietnam war, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg was accused of leaking the “Pentagon Papers” to the press. The Pentagon Papers, swiftly published by The New York Times, consisted of copies of a classified report with the official title of United States–Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense. They documented how the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations misled the American public and were not forthcoming with forecasts about the outcomes of the war in Vietnam.
Ellsberg shared the document with Times writer Neil Sheehan who began to publish excerpts in June, 1971. Nixon issued a court order demanding the Times cease publication of the documents. This was quickly followed by the Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971), which resulted in victory for the Times and for the First Amendment of the Constitution. Ellsberg, however was not off the hook. He surrended to authorities who charged him with conspiracy and theft under the Espionage Act of 1917.
Open Vault’s newly released episode of The Advocates features contemporary scholars and pundits debating the validity of these continuing charges against Daniel Ellsberg. They debate the merits of government secrecy vs. transparency and whether openness in government threatens national security… check it out!