WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers: Continued

Not surprisingly, many books and at least two movies came out after the Pentagon Papers.  The movies, both available on Netflix, are a 2009 documentary entitled: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers and a 2003 fictionalized account for TV, The Pentagon Papers, starring James Spader as Daniel Ellsburg.

A search in our online catalog, Julien, under the subject headings “Pentagon Papers” or “New York Times Company—Trials, Litigation, Etc” provides a number of interesting titles in our collection, including:
John Prados and Margaret Pratt Porter, Inside the Pentagon Papers (Main E183.8.V5 I575 2004).

David Rudenstiine’s The Day the Presses Stopped: a History of the Pentagon Papers Case (Main KF228.N52 R84 1996).
Sanford Ungar’s The Papers and the Papers: an Account of the Legal and Political battles over the Pentagon Papers (Main KF224.N39 U54 1989).

In Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (Main DS 558.E44 2002), Daniel Ellsberg explains the circumstances that led to the creation and distribution of the Pentagon Papers and the trial that followed.  Charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 and other crimes, Ellsberg, and his co-defendant Anthony Russo, faced stiff sentences.  When the court discovered that President Nixon’s White House “plumbers” had illegally wiretapped Ellsberg and had broken into the office of Ellsberg’s former psychoanalyst, charges against Ellsberg and Russo were dismissed.

The 7,000 pages of the Pentagon Papers– officially entitled, History of U.S. Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policyhave never been published in full.  A mass market paperback edition, however, was published as The Pentagon Papers: as Published by the New York Times, based on investigative reporting by Neil Sheehan, written by Neil Sheehan [and others] (Main E 183.8.v5 1971b).

As a curious aside, Alaska Senator Mike Gravel had read portions of the Papers into the Congressional Record. That version, 4,100 pages long, was published by Beacon Press, a small publishing house affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church.  As a government document, not under copyright, that text is available online at: or in pdf format beginning at

That Julian Assange’s legal battles might turn out as successfully for him as Ellsberg’s did, seems, at this writing, hard to imagine.  While the blogoshere debates possible charges related to WikiLeaks’s release of classified documents, Assange was arrested yesterday in London on two charges of sexual assault in Sweden. Conspiracy theorists wonder whether the two are related.

Whether somehow related or not, Wikileaks promises to remain in the public eye for some time.  Even after WikiLeaks leaves the front pages of newspapers, and the Internet, and as they say, falls below the fold, lawyers will spend many hours, yet again, determining the appropriate intersection between the rights of government secrecy and the public’s right to know.

In the mean time, you’ll have to decide for yourself if WikiLeaks promotes chaos and anarchy or democracy and transparency.