(GoRealNewsNow.com) – BREAKING NEWS NOW: Daniel Ellsberg, a key figure in American history known for exposing government secrets about the Vietnam War, died at the age of 92, as announced by his family. The documents he leaked, known as the “Pentagon Papers,” triggered a crucial First Amendment battle in the U.S.
Ellsberg had been battling pancreatic cancer and passed away at his home in Kensington, California. He was a well-known advocate for government transparency, inspiring future whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks.
In 1971, Ellsberg leaked classified information to the press during the Vietnam War, hoping to hasten the war’s end. The Nixon administration launched a campaign to discredit him. President Nixon’s national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, labeled Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America.”
Before his change of heart, Ellsberg was a committed Cold War strategist and supporter of the Vietnam War. He had an impressive resume, including three Harvard degrees, a Marine Corps service record, and roles at the Pentagon and the RAND Corporation, a policy research group.
However, his views dramatically shifted during his two-year deployment in Saigon. In his 2003 memoir, “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers,” he recounted how he realized one week into his deployment that the U.S. was fighting a losing war.
While working for RAND, Ellsberg accessed a confidential 7,000-page report detailing U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967. His changing views on the war led him to anti-war rallies, where he was inspired to copy the “Pentagon Papers” and leak them to the public.
Ellsberg managed to smuggle the classified report from the RAND office and, with the help of his children, made copies. He sat on these papers for about 18 months before handing them to the New York Times.
When the Times published the first part of the “Pentagon Papers” on June 13, 1971, President Nixon’s administration attempted to halt further publications, sparking a pivotal freedom-of-the-press conflict.
Undeterred, Ellsberg provided copies of the papers to the Washington Post and other newspapers. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the press, affirming their right to publish the documents.
The report included shocking revelations, including U.S. officials’ beliefs that the Vietnam War was likely unwinnable and secret military actions in Cambodia and Laos. The casualty numbers were also revealed to be higher than reported.
Although the FBI quickly identified Ellsberg as the leaker, he evaded capture for two weeks before turning himself in. In a statement, he said, “I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public.”
The Nixon administration made efforts to discredit Ellsberg and stop further leaks. This involved the infamous “plumbers” unit, later known for the Watergate scandal. However, when the court learned of these government actions, the charges against Ellsberg were dismissed.
In his later years, Ellsberg advocated for government transparency and against the spread of nuclear weapons. He supported Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning, seeing them as heroes for leaking classified information. He authored several books, including “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner” and “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.”
Ellsberg had been married twice and had three children. His groundbreaking work in government transparency continues to inspire debates and actions around the globe. The “Pentagon Papers” are now public and can be accessed online.
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