40 Years Ago The New York Times Publishes The Pentagon Papers

by Lindsay Whitacre

40 Years ago today, the New York Times began to publish what became known as “The Pentagon Papers,” arguably one of the most important leaks of classified material in American history.  Today the papers will be released in their entirety, including the notorious 11 missing words from the original document.

For the ground-breaking documentary series, “Vietnam: A Television History” WGBH interviewed David Ellsberg he recalls his time as a RAND military analyst helping plan the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and 1965.  He then talks about his rationale for handing over the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times and seventeen other newspapers.  He recalls photocopying the 7,000 pages by hand and his realization that the Vietnam War was not winnable.

Further Reading:

Transcript of WGBH interview of Daniel Ellsberg: http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/org.wgbh.mla:4a085994f532f8c6135af8154fd4134eb2354cac

The Official Pentagon Papers: http://www.archives.gov/press/press-releases/2011/nr11-138.html

New York Times reporting on the release of The Pentagon Papers: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/us/08pentagon.html