Daniel Ellsberg, a U.S. military analyst, passed away at the age of 92. He became known for leaking the “Pentagon Papers,” which exposed how the U.S. government deceived the public about the Vietnam War. This revelation sparked a significant fight for freedom of the press. Ellsberg’s actions, predating figures like Edward Snowden and Wikileaks, revealed that the government could mislead and lie to its citizens. Later in life, he became an advocate for whistleblowers and his story was depicted in the movie “The Post” released in 2017.
Ellsberg’s Bold Move: Leaking to End the Vietnam War and Facing Backlash
Ellsberg took a secret action in 1971 to share important information with the media, hoping to help bring an end to the Vietnam War more quickly. However, this made him a target of attacks by the Nixon White House, which tried to harm his reputation. Henry Kissinger, who was an important advisor to the president at the time, even called him “the most dangerous man in America” and wanted to stop him at any cost.
Meanwhile, acting upon the request of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, officials at the Pentagon had been secretly compiling a comprehensive 7,000-page report on U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. By 1969, when the report was completed, only 15 copies were published, and two of them were sent to the RAND Corporation, where Ellsberg was working at the time.