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Daniel Ellsberg, Leaker of the Pentagon Papers, to Speak about Secrets and Democracy

KEENE, N.H. 4/4/03 - Daniel Ellsberg, who more than 30 years ago leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers to national newspapers, will speak at Keene State College on Wednesday, April 16, at 7 p.m. in the Mabel Brown Room of the Student Center. In his talk, “Secrets and Democracy,” Ellsberg will address the nature and actions of nations in time of war. Tickets for the event are $2 and may be purchased from the information desk in the Student Center beginning April 13. Tickets are free for KSC staff, faculty, and students with KSC ID.

In 1971, Ellsberg, a former marine and Defense Department analyst, leaked a 7,000-page, top-secret report of U.S. policy in Vietnam to The New York Times and other newspapers. The leaked documents, which became known as the Pentagon Papers, showed that the U.S. government had deceived the American public about the motives for and legitimacy of the war.

Following the leaking of the documents, Ellsberg was the subject of a massive FBI manhunt and of illegal activities by the Nixon administration, including attempts to assault him and to besmirch his reputation. After he was tried on 12 felony counts, carrying a possible sentence of up to 115 years, his case was dismissed in 1973, on grounds of governmental misconduct against him. This led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured prominently in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon and his resignation. Ellsberg’s release of the papers has since been credited with speeding up the end of the war and saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

A native of Detroit, Ellsberg graduated from Harvard University, served as a company commander in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam for two years, and then returned to Harvard to complete his doctoral degree in economics. In 1959, he joined the RAND Corporation’s Economics Department as an analyst, and in 1964 he was recruited to serve in the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara during the Johnson Administration. Following a two-year stint in Vietnam for the State Department, Ellsberg eventually returned to RAND, his employer when he released the Pentagon Papers. In addition to his new book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, he is the author of Risk, Ambiguity, and Decision, and his scholarly articles have appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, Economic Journal, and American Economic Review. Since Vietnam, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer, and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era and unlawful interventions.

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