||Daniel Ellsberg is
born in Chicago.
|August 4, 1964
||On Daniel Ellsberg's
first full day as special assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert
McNamara, the Pentagon receives reports from a captain of a U.S. navy
ship in the Gulf of Tonkin that it was under fire from North Vietnamese
patrol boats. Although much later it would seem clear that no
fire took place in the Gulf that day, the mistaken reports would lead
to the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and a huge escalation of U.S. military
involvement in Vietnam.
Robert McNamara, growing concerned about the course of the war in
Vietnam, first considers commissioning a study of the history of U. S.
involvement in Vietnam.
||Morton Halperin, an
aide to Secretary McNamara, proposing a study of U. S. involvement in
Vietnam, with himself directing the study. McNamara approves the
study, giving Halperin general supervisory responsibilities and Leslie
Gelb responsibility for the day-to-day direction of the project.
Analysts on the study are promised anonymity.
||Daniel Ellsberg is
invited by Halperin and Gelb to join the staff of the Pentagon Papers
project. By December 1967, Ellsberg completes a 350-page draft
report on the Kennedy Administration's Vietnam policy in 1961.
Over the course of the next year, Ellsberg becomes increasingly
skeptical about U.S. policy in Vietnam.
commissioned by McNamara, later called The Pentagon Papers, is
completed. The study consists of 7,000 pages bound into 47
volumes. The study explores the history of U.S. involvement in
Indochina from the early 1940s to 1968. The study is classified
working on a Defense Department project at the Rand corporation, asks
to receive a copy of the the complete classified Pentagon Papers
report. He is given a copy, which is to be kept locked in a
high-security safe in his office.
||Ellsberg attends a
conference at Haverford College organized by War Resisters
International. Ellsberg begins to think seriously about what he
can do to stop what he expects to be a continued escalation of fighting
||Ellsberg picks out
volumes from the Pentagon Papers in his top secret safe and carries
them out the Rand building in his briefcase. Ellsberg drives to
the apartment of his anti-war friend, Tony Russo, and then to the
office of an ad agency run by Russo's girlfriend, Lynda Sinay.
Using a Xerox machine in the ad agency, Ellsberg and Russo begin to
copy the Pentagon Papers.
||Ellsberg meets with
members of Congress on Capitol Hill and helps draft a resolution urging
the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Vietnam. While in Washington,
Ellsberg delivers a copy of the Pentagon Papers (the portion he had
copied at this point) to William Fulbright, Chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee. (Later, Ellsberg ships to
Fulbright's office the remainder of the Papers.)
||Ellsberg meets with
Secretary of State Kissinger in San Clemente, California and urges him
to read the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg also shares with Kissinger
his concerns with the course of U. S. policy in Vietnam.
||In discussing ways
to get the information contained in the Pentagon Papers to the public,
Senator Fulbright's legislative aide, Norvil Jones, suggests giving the
study to the New York Times.
Ellsberg tells Jones he's already considered that possibility.
McGovern, after meeting with Ellsberg, tells him that he will, in a
filibuster, read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record on
the floor of the Senate. A week later, McGovern (who had recently
announced his candidacy for President), tells Ellsberg he has changed
his mind and can't do it.
||Ellsberg visits New York Times foreign reporter
Neil Sheehan at Sheehan's home in Washington. He tells Sheehan he
has a full copy of the Pentagon Papers and discusses the possibility of
giving it to the paper. No promises are made, but the two agree
to meet again.
||Fearing a search of
his home for copies of the Pentagon Papers, Ellsberg has his wife,
Patricia, make additional copies at a copying service in Harvard
Square. He stores the new copies at the homes of friends and
||Ellsberg meets again
with Neil Sheehan of the New York
Times to discuss turning over a copy of the Pentagon
Papers. Ellsberg insists that the paper would have to commit to
publishing large sections of the study. Sheehan tells Ellsberg he
will discuss the proposal with his bosses in New York.
||Ellsberg gives a
copy of the Pentagon Papers to Neil Sheehan, who takes it to New York,
where he and other New York Times
reporters begin to pour through the extensive materials.
||At an anti-war rally
in Washington, Ellsberg is Maced, but not arrested.
||Ellsberg learns that
the New York Times would begin publishing excerpts from the Pentagon
Papers. He gathers copies from his apartment and takes them to a
||The New York Times publishes a
three-column, front-page story containing excerpts from the Pentagon
Papers. Richard Nixon reads the story and tells aide H.R.
Haldeman it was "criminally traitorous" for someone to turn over the
papers and for the Times to
publish them, but initially decides it is best for the Administration
to "keep out of it." Later that day, Henry Kissinger begins
urging Nixon to take action against the newspaper because the release
threatened ongoing secret negotiations.
||On the day the New York Times publishes the third installment in its series on the Pentagon Papers, Attorney General John Mitchell sends a letter to the paper asking it to suspend publication of the series and turn over its copy of the Pentagon Papers. When the Times declines, the Justice Department files a demand for an injunction in federal district court in New York. Judge Gurfein grants a temporary restraining order halting more installments in the Pentagon Papers series, a schedules another hearing for the 17th.|
Ben Bagdikian at the Washington Post
and offers him a
copy of the Pentagon Papers. After meeting with Ellsberg in
Cambridge, Bagdikian takes two copies back to Washington, one for the Post and one to be delivered to
Alaska Senator Mike Gravel. Ellsberg begins moving from motel to
motel, as the FBI seeks to interview him.
||After a heated
discussion of the legal implications, the decision of whether to
publish a story for the next morning's edition of the Washington Post
goes to publisher Katherine Graham. Graham, despite warnings
about potentially grave consequences to the paper's financial health,
says, "Okay, go ahead." Editor Ben Bradlee's announces Graham's
decision to a happy group of editors and reporters.
|| A hearing is held
in New York City on the question of whether to lift the restraining
order issued against the Times.
Later, the restraining order against the Times is dissolved, but the order
is stayed to give time to the government to appeal.... Assistant
Attorney General William Rehnquist calls Post editor Ben Bradlee and informs
him that the government considers further reports based on the Pentagon
Papers to be a violation of espionage laws and asks him to turn over
the document. Bradlee declines.
||At 1:20 a.m,, a
panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily enjoins the Washington Post from publishing
further stories based on the Pentagon Papers.
|June 21, 1971||In Washington,
Federal District Judge Gesell denies the government's request for a
preliminary injunction against the Washington
Post. The government immediately appeals to the
|June 23, 1971||The D.C. Circuit
Court of Appeals, on a vote of 7 to 2, affirms Judge Gesell's decision
denying the government an injunction against publication by the Washington Post....In New York,
after a hearing, the Second Circuit remands the case involving the New York Times to District Judge
Gurfein for further in camera proceedings....
Meanwhile, portions of the Pentagon Papers are delivered to newspapers
country. (injunctions are sought against The Boston Globe and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch)....CBS
news anchor Walter Cronkite interviews Daniel Ellsberg.
|June 26, 1971||The day after granting the government's (in the Post case) and the New York Times's appeal petitions, the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in New York Times v United States, raising the question of whether the First Amendment allows an injunction (prior restraint) to be entered against newspapers seeking to publish the Pentagon Papers.|
|June 28, 1971||Ellsberg surrenders
to arrest at the federal courthouse in Boston. A grand jury in
Los Angeles indicts Daniel Ellsberg for theft and espionage....E.
Howard Hunt writes a memo to Nixon aide Chuck Colson headed
"Neutralization of Ellsberg." The memo proposes building a file
of damning material about Ellsberg to destroy his credibility.
Among the memo's suggestions: "Obtain Ellsberg's files from his
||The U. S. Supreme
Court announces its decision in the Pentagon Papers cases. In a
per curium decision, the Court rules that the government did not meet
its burden for a prior restraint under the First Amendment. Three
justices dissent, arguing that the Court rushed to judgment and thus
endangered national security.
called to testify before the grand jury in Los Angeles, refuses to
testify, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege against
||After having been
granted immunity from prosecution, Russo still refuses to testify and
it cited for contempt of court. He is sentenced to jail and
remains there for the next six weeks.
||A second indictment
(superseding the first), containing fifteen counts, is returned against
Ellsberg and Anthony Russo.
||The trial of
Ellsberg and Russo is halted after it is disclosed that the government
wiretapped a conversation between one of the defendants and his lawyer
or consultants. Although Judge Byrne refused to stop the trial
because of the wiretap, Justice William O. Douglas stays the
proceedings until the Supreme Court has a chance to consider the appeal.
||The U. S. Supreme
Court, voting 7 to 2, refuses to hear defense arguments arising from
the government's wiretap.
||Judge Byrne declares
a mistrial and orders a new jury empaneled.
are delivered in the trial of Ellsberg and Russo.
Judge Byrne that they have learned that Howard Hunt and G. Gordon
Liddy, two government employees, burglarized (on September 3, 1971) the
office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist in an effort to secure
information damaging to Ellsberg's defense.
||Based on the
government's misconduct, Judge Byrne dismisses all charges against
Ellsberg and Russo.
||Ellsberg publishes a book about the Pentagon Papers case, "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers|
||A documentary is released
about Ellsberg. The film is called "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel
Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers."