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Daniel Ellsberg, Leaker of Pentagon Papers, Passes Away at 92

Daniel Ellsberg died

Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who courageously exposed the truth about American deception in Vietnam through the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, died on Friday at the age of 92. His demise occurred at his residence in Kensington, Calif., due to pancreatic cancer, as confirmed by his wife and children.

In March, Ellsberg shared the news of his terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis with his supporters via an email, revealing that he had been given an estimated three to six months to live by his doctors.

Daniel Ellsberg died

The publication of the Pentagon Papers, comprising 7,000 pages that revealed shocking revelations about presidential deceit, abuse of authority, and misleading the American public, intensified the already divided and wounded nation during the war. The release triggered illicit measures by the White House to discredit Ellsberg, suppress government leaks, and target perceived political adversaries. This series of crimes culminated in the Watergate scandal, leading to the disgrace and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

Furthermore, it sparked a significant First Amendment conflict between the Nixon administration and The New York Times. The government denounced the newspaper’s publication of the papers as an act of espionage endangering national security. Nonetheless, the freedom of the press was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Facing charges of espionage, conspiracy, and other offenses, Ellsberg stood trial in federal court in Los Angeles. However, on the brink of jury deliberations, the judge dismissed the case, citing government misconduct such as illegal wiretapping, a break-in at Ellsberg’s former psychiatrist’s office, and an offer from President Nixon to appoint the judge as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Upon his release, Ellsberg remarked, “The demystification and de-sanctification of the president has begun. It’s like the defrocking of the Wizard of Oz.”

The story of Daniel Ellsberg parallels the tumultuous American experience in Vietnam. It began in the 1950s as a struggle to contain communism in Indochina and concluded in 1973 with a humiliating defeat in a corrosive war that claimed the lives of over 58,000 Americans and millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians.

Ellsberg, a brilliant young man from Michigan, endured tragedy at the age of 15 when his mother and sister were killed in a car accident caused by his father falling asleep at the wheel. Nevertheless, he persevered and excelled academically, attending prep school, Harvard, and the University of Cambridge with high honors and ambitious goals.

In 1954, he enlisted in the Marines, completed officer candidate school, and extended his service to join his battalion during the Suez crisis in the Middle East in 1956, though he did not witness any combat. Leaving as a first lieutenant, he held firm beliefs regarding military resolutions to international problems.

Ellsberg earned a doctorate from Harvard, joined the RAND Corporation, and focused on studying game theory as it applied to crisis situations and nuclear warfare. During the 1960s, he advised on Washington’s responses to the Cuban missile crisis and North Vietnamese attacks on American ships in the Gulf of Tonkin.

By 1964, Ellsberg became an advisor to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara. As American involvement in Vietnam escalated, he traveled to Saigon in 1965 to assess civilian pacification programs. Partnering with Major General Edward G. Lansdale, a counterinsurgency specialist, Ellsberg spent 18 months accompanying combat patrols in jungles and villages.

A Grim Awakening What he witnessed during this period initiated a transformative process. It went beyond the failure to win the hearts and minds of

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