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Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg

Research papers on the Pentagon Papers are incomplete without the mention of Daniel Ellsberg. Paper Masters can explain his role in Watergate in a custom written project for any political science or history class.

A Defense Department consultant named Daniel Ellsberg eventually became aware of the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was a former marine who alternated between employment in the Defense Department and private employment with defense related firms. When he first became involved with defense work, he claims that he had a naïve faith in the objectivity of the President, Richard Nixon, with the Presidents making relatively wise decisions as long as their advisors provided them with accurate information. In this model, the analysis of any mistakes made by Presidents and their advisors was handled in the Executive Branch, with no need for public debate that could tarnish the image of the President's office. Ellsberg contends that this paradigm regarding the decision-making process in various administrations was the reason that the Pentagon Papers were kept secret. Although the material was essentially historical in that it outlined the mistakes of past administrations, public knowledge of the documents would undermine confidence in the office of the Presidency. By this reasoning, the incumbent President could potentially be forced to justify policy decisions to the public, which could reveal the flawed assumptions behind the policy decisions.

Ellsberg and Foreign Policy

Ellsberg gradually began to believe that this position that had developed within the government regarding secrecy in foreign policy decision was contrary to the openness and transparency of governmental operations embodied in the Constitution.

  • He believed that Congress should be aware of the documents in order to exercise its role in overseeing governmental operations.
  • In addition, anti-war activists that risked imprisonment in order to advocate their belief that the Vietnam War was wrong influence his decision to make the documents public.

As a result, he made a copy of the documents, knowing that he risked a long term of imprisonment by using his position to compromise information that was classified as top secret.

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