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Juniata Hosts 'Pentagon Papers' Activist Daniel Ellsberg

(Posted January 13, 2014)

Daniel Ellsberg will speak at Juniata College at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30 in Rosenberger Auditorium.

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Daniel Ellsberg, a former strategic analyst for the RAND Corporation and the central figure in the 1971 publication of a study on "Decision-making in Vietnam 1945-1968" that later became widely known as "The Pentagon Papers," will speak at Juniata College on "Surveillance and Secrecy" at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 30, in Rosenberger Auditorium in the Halbritter Center for the Performing Arts.

The lecture is free and open to the public. On Thursday, Jan. 23, Juniata will screen "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers" at 7:30 p.m. in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science. The film is free and open to the public.
The 2009 film outlines Ellsberg's life and gives a detailed timeline of how Ellsberg became disillusioned with the war in Vietnam and decided to give The Pentagon Papers to a variety of news outlets to show that five different U.S. presidents had lied about how the controversial war was being conducted. The film was nominated in 2009 for an Academy award for Best Documentary Film.

For the past four decades since the publication of the "The Pentagon Papers," Ellsberg has continued to speak out against political repression, American militarism and the targeting of journalists and whistleblowers by political groups or politicians. Currently, he is a leading advocate in support of Private Bradley (or Chelsea) Manning, the U.S. Army intelligence specialist who released thousands of U.S. diplomatic and military documents to WikiLeaks.

Ellsberg became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation in 1959 and also served as a consultant to the White House and the Department of Defense, specializing in issues about the command and control of nuclear weapons and crisis decision-making. In 1964, he joined the Defense Department as a special assistant to John McNaughton, then-assistant secretary of defense, to work on the escalation of the war in Vietnam. In 1965, he joined the State Department and spent two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, Vietnam, evaluating pacification efforts.

He returned to the RAND Corporation in 1967 and worked on the top-secret study commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. He soon realized the true picture of what was happening in Vietnam was starkly different than the coverage of the war effort in the mainstream news media. He photocopied the 7,000-page report and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When that didn't work, he gave the papers to New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan as well as the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers.

Ellsberg received the 2006 Right Livelihood Award "for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example."


After being indicted on 12 felony counts of leaking information to the media, Ellsberg spent two years (as well as four months on trial) after charges against him and an accomplice were dismissed on grounds of governmental misconduct. The misconduct led to the convictions of several White House aides and also was used in the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon.

Ellsberg is the author of three books, "Papers on the War," (1971), "Risk, Ambiguity and Decision: (2001) and "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers" (2002). He is a senior fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation and received the 2006 Right Livelihood Award "for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example."

He earned a bachelor's degree in 1952 in economics from Harvard University. He spent a year studying economics at King's College, Cambridge University and went on to earn a doctorate in 1962 in economics from Harvard.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.