Daniel Ellsberg, the man who moved in 1971 to The New York Times “The Pentagon Papers,” a series of classified Pentagon reports about US involvement in Vietnam between the end of World War II and 1967. Ellsberg was a former Marine and military analyst at the RAND Corporation (an American study) whose 1960s fueled opposition to the war. He was 92 years old, and last February, according to a statement from his family, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died At his home in Kensington, California.
“U.S.-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967,” later renamed by the press the “Pentagon Papers,” was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara in 1967 and turned over to the US administration in 1968. A study showed that four administrations, from Truman to Johnson, actually lied to public opinion and became more and more involved in a disastrous military campaign while hiding from the people and from Congress that the chances of victory were slim. .
At that point, Ellsberg, one of the report’s authors, tried to persuade some members of Congress to make the report public, but all refused. Then he turned to journalist Neil Sheehan, who had covered Vietnam before and was critical of the war’s continuation. Ellsberg secretly photographed the report, page by page, with the help of his 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter: the report had a total of 7,000 pages.
The publication of the “Pentagon Papers” allowed public opinion to learn about some military actions about which the administrations did not give news: it concerned the bombings of Cambodia and Laos and the raids on the coasts of North Vietnam. Publication of the material led to numerous protests and a series of lawsuits. Richard Nixon, who was president of the United States in 1971, accused Ellsberg and one of his aides, Anthony Russo, of treason. Ellsberg was later acquitted, after it became known that aides to President Nixon had illegally investigated him, to discredit him. In recent years, Ellsberg has written several books and has been actively campaigning for government transparency and against nuclear weapons.
The story of the Pentagon Papers is also told in the posta 2017 film directed by Steven Spielberg.
– Also read: Fifty years ago, the Pentagon Papers began being published.
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