Image via Wikipedia
Forty years after a leak brought parts of the Pentagon Papers to light in the New York Times, the papers, officially called “United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense,” were declassified and released by the National Archives in June 2011. At the time they were leaked, the Pentagon Papers became a catalyst for both general knowledge of U.S. political and military involvement in the Vietnam War and a coup in the legal matter of burden of proof for prior injunction.
The Pentagon Papers showed that the Johnson administration, the Kennedy administration and even prior administrations had been involved in escalating the conflict in Vietnam without alerting the U.S. Congress, the American public or even U.S. military allies.
While many of the secret details that are within the papers are already known because of the eventual publication by dozens of newspapers of the most interesting details, the release of the 7,000 page document is historic because of both the legal and cultural ramifications the original leak and subsequent attempt to stop the press from publishing it had on the American landscape. A little more than 30 percent of the report was never published or released anywhere else but can be read now.
The Pentagon Papers leak back in 1971 was considered the Wikileaks of its time. Daniel Ellsberg, a private foreign policy analyst, had copied pages of the report that he removed from a safe each night and then replaced in the mornings until he had enough to hand over to the New York Times. Now everyone has access to the papers.