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      Four Decades Later, Full ‘Pentagon Papers’ Released

      Jul 06, 2011
      On June 13, the National Archives released the full Pentagon Papers, which exposed the U.S. conduct of the Vietnam War, by posting the papers online. According to an msn.com news article, the release was timed 40 years to the day after The New York Times published the first in its series of articles about the findings of about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. However, the article noted, the 47-volume report won’t really reveal great new revelations, as most of the information has already come out in congressional forums.

      On June 13, the National Archives released the full Pentagon Papers, which exposed the U.S. conduct of the Vietnam War, by posting the papers online. According to an msn.com news article, the release was timed 40 years to the day after The New York Times published the first in its series of articles about the findings of about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. However, the article noted, the 47-volume report won’t really reveal great new revelations, as most of the information has already come out in congressional forums.

      MSN reported that the top-secret papers were prepared near the end of President Lyndon Johnson’s term by the Defense Department and private analysts. Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara headed up the study and asked three dozen analysts to do an "encyclopedic and objective" study of U.S. involvement in Vietnam from World War II to 1967. The study consisted of researching Pentagon, CIA, and State Department documents.

      The papers were eventually leaked by military analyst Daniel Ellsberg. The article noted that the leak prompted President Richard Nixon to try to suppress publication and keep government officials from releasing the entire report.

      According to the article, the report revealed a pattern of deception by Johnson, John Kennedy, and prior administrations as they secretly escalated the conflict while assuring the public that the United States did not seek a larger war.

      Ellsberg told The Associated Press that the value in the new release was in having the entire study finally brought together and put online because it gives today's generations’ ready access to the information. The declassified report includes 2,384 pages missing from what had been regarded as the most complete version of the Pentagon Papers, which were published in 1971 by Senator Mike Gravel (D-Alaska).

      The article noted that the 40th anniversary provided a motivation for government archivists to declassify the records. "If you read anything on the Pentagon Papers, the last line is always, 'To date, the papers have yet to be declassified by the Department of Defense,'" said A.J. Daverede, director of the production division at the National Declassification Center. "It's about time that we put that to rest."

      The Declassification Center is part of the National Archives and was established by a 2009 executive order from President Barack Obama, with a goal to speed up the declassification of government records.

      The Washington Policy Brief is an online advisory that contains brief summaries of recent legislative and regulatory issues that may affect the records and information management profession. Further information about the issue is accessed by clicking on the link provided at the end of each summary.

       

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