1971 December 29

Ellsberg, Russo Indicted for Stealing Pentagon Papers


Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo were indicted on this day on charges of theft of government documents and espionage for copying the Pentagon Papers and leaking them to the news media. The New York Times published the first story based on the Papers on June 13, 1971, creating a national sensation for its revelations about the history of American involvement in Vietnam.

The Nixon administration obtained an injunction blocking further publication on June 15, 1971, but the Supreme Court declared the injunction unconstitutional in a historic freedom of the press case, United States v. New York Times, on June 30, 1971, which ruled the injunction an unconstitutional prior restraint of the press.

Ellsberg and Russo were brought to trial; but in the middle of the trial, government misconduct against them was revealed and the charges were dismissed on May 11, 1973. The misconduct included the burglary of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist by the infamous “Plumbers” unit of President Nixon’s administration on September 9, 1971.

Read Ellsberg’s autobiography: Daniel Ellsberg, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2003)

There are three different versions of the Pentagon Papers. Go to the National Security Archive to see all three: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB359/index.htm

Learn more about the Papers, John Prados and Margaret Pratt Porter, Inside the Pentagon Papers (2004)

Read: Tom Wells, Wild Man: The Life and Times of Daniel Ellsberg (2001)

Watch the documentary about Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man in America (2009)

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