Cover image for Inside the Pentagon papers
Inside the Pentagon papers
Prados, John.
Publication Information:
Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, [2004]

Physical Description:
xii, 248 pages ; 25 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E183.8.V5 I575 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Inside the Pentagon Papers addresses legal and moral issues that resonate today as debates continue over government secrecy and democracy's requisite demand for truthfully informed citizens. In the process, it also shows how a closer study of this signal event can illuminate questions of government responsibility in any era. When Daniel Ellsberg leaked a secret government study about the Vietnam War to the press in 1971, he set off a chain of events that culminated in one of the most important First Amendment decisions in American legal history. That affair is now part of history, but the story behind the case has much to tell us about government secrecy and the public's right to know. Commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the Pentagon Papers were assembled by a team of analysts who investigated every aspect of the war. Ellsberg, a member of the team, was horrified by the government's public lies about the war - discrepancies with reality that were revealed by the report's secret findings. His leak of the report to the New York Times and Washington Post triggered the Nixon administration's heavy-handed attempt to halt publication of their stories, which in turn le

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

?As with Vietnam, the current war on terrorism has a secret backstory far different from the one retailed so earnestly? by the administration, say the authors of this illuminating new look at the Pentagon Papers scandal of the 1970s. Scholar Prados (The White House Tapes: Eavesdropping on the President) and Porter, director of communications and publications for Vietnam Veterans of America, reexamine the secret government papers that blew the whistle on the Vietnam War, led to the federal attempts to restrain the press and ultimately resulted in President Richard Nixon?s resignation. The authors take readers into the meeting in which Times editors debated whether to publish the papers, a decision that presented ?all the classic elements of journalistic dilemma.? They offer previously unpublished transcripts of White House tapes (Nixon says, ?Henry talked to that damn Jew [Times executive Max] Frankel all the time, he?s bad, you know?.?). And in a final chapter, VVA general counsel Michael Gaffney considers the legal issues raised by the Pentagon Papers, and their implications for releasing classified government information today. Volumes about these issues abound, but Prados and Porter offer a concise look at those pivotal events and their long-term effects. (June 19) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Review

On June 13, 1971, the New York Times printed its first installment of the Pentagon Papers, a massive narrative of this country's often misguided Vietnam policies from the Truman through the Johnson administrations. Prolific historian Prados (The Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby) and Porter, an official of Vietnam Veterans of America, combine informative summaries of the impact and legacy of the Pentagon Papers with interviews of important players, most notably Daniel Ellsberg, who released the papers to the Times and the Washington Post. Also included are the views of scholars, such as David Rudenstine, whose excellent The Day the Presses Stopped: A History of the Pentagon Papers is updated here through use of more recent declassified documents. In one of the many illuminating first-person accounts, Hedrick Smith of the Times recounts the struggle between those who considered release of the papers a breach of national security and the majority, who believed that their release was essential to protect the First Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled that the government's case against release was not compelling. Recommended for all public and academic libraries. Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg leaked to the New York Times and Washington Post a secret government study detailing efforts by federal officials to hide the pessimistic assessments and projections related to America's involvement in Vietnam. These documents became known as the Pentagon Papers. The legal and political uproar that followed was a major factor in strengthening First Amendment freedoms and an impetus for US withdrawal from the war. Anticipating the historical perspicacity that accrues after more than three decades of reflection, Porter organized a 2001 Washington symposium gathering the primary players in the battle to release these documents. Oral and written presentations provide much of the work's fresh information; the rest comes from transcripts of Nixon tape recordings not available in 1971. The primary material is ably compiled and edited by Porter, and Prados's analysis is insightful. He effectively argues that Nixon's decision to challenge the open publication of these documents was an integral component of the comprehensive veil of secrecy that ultimately led to his downfall. This chilling reminder of the corrosive evils of arbitrary government secrecy in liberal society deserves a prominent place in any collection of Vietnam-era histories. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All collections. E. C. Dolman United States Air University

Table of Contents

Michael J. Gaffney
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
1 Creating the Pentagon Papersp. 12
2 Publishing the Papersp. 51
3 Nixon Intervenesp. 75
4 First Amendment Rights: The Papers in Courtp. 118
5 What Was So Secret?p. 147
6 The Impact of the Pentagon Papersp. 183
7 Legal and Constitutional Issuesp. 197
Notesp. 219
Bibliographyp. 233
About the Contributorsp. 237