The Pentagon Papers: National Security or the Right to Know

The Pentagon Papers: National Security or the Right to Know

The Pentagon Papers: National Security or the Right to Know

The Pentagon Papers: National Security or the Right to Know

Excerpt

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On SunDaY, June 13, 1971, The New York Times published the first of a ten-part series of articles and accompanying top secret government documents that were part of what would become known as the Pentagon Papers.

The full Pentagon Papers, a secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1968, filled fortyseven volumes. Shortly after the series began, the U.S. government sought and won a court order to stop the Times from publishing any more of the top secret documents. As soon as the Times stopped publishing the Pentagon Papers, the Washington Post began its own series on the documents. It, too, was forced to stop publishing the reports after the government won a temporary court-ordered ban.

The Pentagon Papers revealed the government's [contempt for public opinion,] its use of the press to mislead the public, and [the easy arrogance] of leaders who made decisions without the knowledge or consent of the people or Congress, according to a Washington Post editorial.

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