Washington, DC, September 16, 2011 - For the first time ever, all three major editions of the Pentagon Papers are being made available simultaneously online. The posting today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org), allows for a unique side-by-side comparison, showing readers exactly what the U.S. government tried to hide for 40 years by means of deletions from the original text.
To make the most of this new resource, the Archive is unveiling a special contest inviting readers to make their own nominations for the infamous "11 words" that some officials tried to keep secret even this year!
Today's posting includes the full texts of the "Gravel" edition entered into Congressional proceedings in 1971 by Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and later published by the Beacon Press, the authorized 1971 declassified version issued by the House Armed Services Committee with deletions insisted on by the Nixon administration, and the new 2011 "complete" edition released in June by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
Accompanying the posting is the National Security Archive's invitation for readers to identify their own favorite nominees for the "11 words" that securocrats attempted to delete during the declassification process for the Papers earlier this year, until alert NARA staffers realized those words actually had been declassified back in 1971. Best submissions for the "11 words" -- as judged by National Security Archive experts -- will appear in the Archive's blog, Unredacted, and on the Archive's Facebook page. National Security Archive senior fellow John Prados wrote the introduction and analysis for the posting. Archive analyst Carlos Osorio coordinated the data processing for publication. Archive staff Wendy Valdes and Charlotte Karrlsson-Willis did the input, indexing and cross-referencing, and the Archive's webmaster Michael Evans managed the online publication of the Pentagon Papers.
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With a simple press release on June 8, 2011 the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that five days later the United States Government would declassify and make public the full forty-seven volumes of the set of studies universally known as the “Pentagon Papers.” The studies acquired that name when they were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg, one of the analysts who had worked on them but had subsequently gone into the opposition on U.S. policy in the Vietnam war. The National Security Archive here posts, for the first time anywhere, a combined, comparative, and searchable set of all the major editions of the Pentagon Papers together with a cross-referencing index to all the sets.
As it happens NARA’s release of the Pentagon Papers coincided exactly with the 40th anniversary of the day in 1971 when the leaked documents began to appear in the press, at first the New York Times, but then also the Washington Post and many other news media. The Nixon administration attempted to suppress the leak of the Papers by seeking a prior injunction against their publication from the U.S. Court. It succeeded thereby in making the Pentagon Papers into one of the significant political documents of the 20th Century. The case went to the Supreme Court, which decided against the government in a notable First Amendment decision affirming freedom of the press.
With this background the reader can begin to understand the secrecy issues that swirled around this set of materials. Read more...
About the National Security Archive:
The National Security Archive is an independent non-governmental research institute and library located at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A tax-exempt public charity, the Archive receives no U.S. government funding; its budget is supported by publication royalties and donations from foundations and individuals.