Free Speech Legacies: The Pentagon Papers Revisited

During the last years of President Lyndon Johnson's administration, defense secretary Robert McNamara launched the compilation of a classified review of the United States' involvement in Southeast Asia. He hoped it would remain secret for decades but eventually serve as a valued source for the study of American foreign policy in the Cold War era. But Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon employee who had become skeptical of the Vietnam War and related military operations, in part as a result of serving on the task force that wrote the study, felt it should become public much sooner. When his efforts to get the documents released through official channels failed, he made them available to the New York Times and, eventually, the Washington Post and other media.
The Georgetown symposium included a public conversation with Daniel Ellsberg on Thursday evening, and three panels the following day (in Copley Formal Lounge) on the legal legacy of the Pentagon Papers case; the shift it brought about in media relations with the government on national security matters; and the climate today, in the fast-paced Internet era, for publication of classified government information and the investigation and prosecution of those who disclose it.

A full schedule of events can be found on the symposium's website.

This event was co-sponsored by the President's Office, the Journalism Program, and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.

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