40 Years Later, Pentagon Papers Declassified

On Monday the National Archives officially declassified the full and unredacted Pentagon Papers, the classified study of the Vietnam War leaked four decades ago. In 1971, defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked the documents to The New York Times by taking them volume by volume from his office and painstakingly copying them.

According to The Associated Press:

The 7,000-page report was the WikiLeaks disclosure of its time, a sensational breach of government confidentiality that shook Richard Nixon’s presidency and prompted a Supreme Court fight that advanced press freedom. Prepared near the end of Lyndon Johnson’s term by Defense Department and private foreign policy analysts, the report was leaked primarily by one of them, Daniel Ellsberg, in a brash act of defiance that stands as one of the most dramatic episodes of whistleblowing in U.S. history.

Daniel Ellsberg speaks at a news conference, circa 1970s. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Though some portions were blotted out, most of what is contained in the reports has been available for years.

Read the full Pentagon Papers from the National Archives’ website.

The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe talked to Alex J. Daverede III, chief of the production division at the Archives’ National Declassification Center, about the process behind releasing the documents.

The New York Times has provided a navigator pointing to audio archives and a timeline of the Pentagon Papers.

To learn more about Daniel Ellsberg, PBS’ POV has posted its documentary, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers,” here. Frontline examines the battles surrounding the release of the Pentagon Papers.

We’ll have more about what the release means on Monday’s NewsHour broadcast.

(Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

(Source: newshour.pbs.org)