Forty years ago on this date, the New York Times published the first installments of the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret assessment of the Viet Nam war authorized by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. The 1971 Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. the United States validated the newspaper's decision to publish the papers.
To mark the Pentagon Papers' fortieth anniversary, the National Archives and the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon Presidential Libraries released the complete, unredacted version of the "Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force."
Documents photocopied by defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg and distributed to the New York Times and the Washington Post only covered a portion of the original report. The version released today runs approximately 7,000 declassified pages, almost 34 percent of the report will now be available for the first time. Also released will be the complete account of peace negotiations, much of which has also not been available until now.
The National Declassification Center, established by President Obama in 2009 to make available approximately 400 million pages of secret documents, spearheaded the release of the complete, unedited Viet Nam War report.
To assess the impact of the Pentagon Papers, historian Robert Dallek joined the Washington Journal this morning to speak about the history of national security leaks and to compare events forty years ago with recent high profile disclosures such as Wikileaks, the unauthorized release of secret State Department cables.