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About The Pentagon Papers

Background: From the National Archives' press release "National Archives and Presidential Libraries Release Pentagon Papers" (June 8, 2011):

"The 7,000 page report was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. He appointed Defense Department officials John McNaughton, Morton Halperin, and Leslie Gelb to lead the task force. Mr. Gelb’s organization published a 47 volume document known as the Report of the OSD (Office of Secretary of Defense) Vietnam Task Force and given the title United States-Vietnam Relations 1945-1967. The entire report was classified at the Top Secret level, although certain volumes of the report contained public statements that were considered unclassified.

The New York Times published the first unauthorized release of what it termed the Vietnam Archive on June 13, 1971. The source document of that leak, along with the leaks to more than a dozen other media outlets, was a copy of the Report created by Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo. That copy of the Report which was well documented in Mr. Ellsberg’s 2002 work, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, was not the pristine document created by Leslie Gelb’s task force. The conditions under which the copies of the Report were made and distributed, coupled with the speed with which the copies were distributed and the urgency to publish the material, meant that the newspaper and magazine releases of the Papers covered only a very small portion of the 7,000 page Report.

"The subsequent copies of the Report that were leaked to the U.S. Congress ultimately had more of the report published. Senator Mike Gravel (D, Alaska) made available his copy of the Report to the publishing house of Beacon Press, located in Boston. The Beacon Press edition was published in 1971. However, Beacon Press had its own reproduction problems that led to words, paragraphs, and even full pages of the Report being deleted, possibly due to the quality problems in the copy received from Senator Gravel. In addition, the Beacon Press editors completely rearranged the volumes of the original Report they received. The House Committee on Armed Services also published its version in 1971. This version follows the same arrangement as the original report, but had some text removed during declassification review.

"Ellsberg and Russo did not leak Part VI of the Report, which describes various negotiating initiatives. The State Department declassified Part VI in 2002 at the Johnson Library."

Articles About the Pentagon Papers

Chomsky, Noam.The national interest and the Pentagon Papers,” Partisan Review, Vol. 39 Issue 3 (1972) : 336-375 MAIN & Special Collections AP2 .P3

Ellsberg, Daniel. Secrecy and National Security Whistleblowing,” Social Research Vol. 77 Issue 3 (Fall 2010): 773-804 (Online access to MSU users only)

McGovern, George and John P  Roche,The Pentagon Papers - A Discussion.” Political Science Quarterly Vol. 87 Issue 2  (Summer1972): 184-191 (Online access to MSU users only)

Roberts, Dick.Government by deceit: what the pentagon papers reveal.International Socialist Review Vol. 32 Issue 8 (1971): 10-18 Special Collections HX1 .I52

Ullman, Richard H.The Pentagon's History As ‘History,’” Foreign Policy;, Issue 4, (Jul1971): 150-156  (Online access to MSU users only)

Subject Guide

Mike Unsworth
 
 

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