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The Pentagon Papers

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked a secret Pentagon study of the Vietnam War to the New York Times. Forty years later, in 2011, those documents were declassified.

The Pentagon Papers Online from the National Archives

The Pentagon Papers, officially titled "Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force", was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in 1967. In June of 1971, small portions of the report were leaked to the press and widely distributed. However, the publications of the report that resulted from these leaks were incomplete and suffered from many quality issues.

On the 40th anniversary of the leak to the press, the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries, has released the complete report. The 48 boxes in this series contain a complete copy of the 7,000 page report along with numerous copies of different volumes of the report, all declassified. Approximately 34% of the report is available for the first time.

What is unique about this, compared to other versions, is that:

  • The complete Report is now available with no redactions compared to previous releases
  • The Report is presented as Leslie Gelb presented it to then Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford on January 15, 1969
  • All the supplemental back-documentation is included. In the Gravel Edition, 80% of the documents in Part V.B. were not included
  • This release includes the complete account of peace negotiations, significant portions of which were not previously available either in the House Armed Services Committee redacted copy of the Report or in the Gravel Edition

Subject Guide

Debra Thomson
Adams Library Room 203

Pentagon Papers in the News

Declassification of The Pentagon Papers

On June 13, 2011 the "Pentagon Papers" were declassified 40 years after they were leaked to New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan by Daniel Ellsberg.  Officially titled United States – Vietnam Relations, 1945–1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense, the top-secret study was the work of a task force commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara without the knowledge of President Lyndon Johnson.  The 4,000 pages of documents and 3,000 pages of historical analysis exposed the United States government's deception regarding its policies and practices in the conduct of the Vietnam War.

photo credit:

The "declassified" files were released to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California



The Pentagon Papers & Wikileaks

“EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”

Daniel Ellsberg, December 8, 2010

"Is Wikileaks the Pentagon Papers, part 2? Parallels, and Differences, Exist."  By Paul Farhi and Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post Staff Writers, Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Daniel Ellsberg speaks about the charges against Bradley Manning on the Democracy Now website.  

Ellsberg participates in a panel discussion of "Wikileaks, the Internet and Democracy".

"Wikileaks Q&A with Daniel Ellsberg, the man behind the Pentagon Papers" Christian Science Monitor, July 29, 2010

"Wikileaks Vs. the Pentagon Papers" by David Martin CBS News July 26, 2011 

 Wikileaks LibGuide

James P. Adams Library  ·  Rhode Island College  ·  600 Mount Pleasant Ave, Providence, RI 02908