Pentagon Papers Facts

Pentagon Papers Facts
The Pentagon Papers is the name commonly used to refer to the Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force, which was a U.S. Department of Defense report that detailed American involvement in Vietnam. The classified document contained information that essentially the government's public narrative about the Vietnam War and showed the President Lyndon Johnson often left out important facts about the war or even lied when he discussed it publicly. The paper was compiled during Johnson's presidency and written before Richard Nixon became assumed the office of the presidency. The report was leaked when Daniel Ellsberg, an employ of the RAND Corporation who had access to the report, photocopied the contents and released them to the New York Times in 1971. Although Ellsberg was initially charged with conspiracy and several other felonies, Nixon's own legal problems as well as the anti-war public sentiment led to the charges being dropped. The Pentagon Papers proved to be a real eye-opener in terms of how the Johnson administration handled the war, but by 1971 American involvement in Vietnam was coming to an end.
Interesting Pentagon Papers Facts:
The report was published in a series of articles by The New York Times.
The entirety of the report was not declassified until 2011.
Besides charging Ellsberg with felonies for leaking the report, Nixon's Justice Department got an injunction against The New York Times to cease publication of the report after the third installment.
The New York Times challenged the injunction and it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rule on June 20, 1971, on a 6-3 vote, that The New York Times could publish the report.
President Johnson often maligned Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, was the architect of the report.
Thirty-six analysts worked on the report, which was kept secret from President Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk.
Among the more historically important aspects of the report were the reasons listed for American involvement in Vietnam. The primary reason listed was the same as that of American involvement in Korea: to contain communism in the region, particularly Chinese communism. The Johnson administration never expressed any desire to topple the communist North Vietnam regime.
The Johnson administration viewed communist China as a bigger threat than the Soviet Union, which was switched to a certain degree by the Nixon administration.
The report showed that under President Harry Truman American involvement began in the region by supporting the French in their attempt to hold the colony of Indochina. It was during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, though, when the first American military advisors went into Vietnam.
Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) was the first lawmaker to enter the Papers into the public record on June 29, 1971.
Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of the Pentagon Papers is that it brought to light the American aerial bombing campaigns of Cambodia and Laos. Those were covert campaigns, which partially kept them out of the public record, but it would be unheard of to be able to do so in the Internet era.


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