The former Defense Department consultant who leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers revealed last week that he has cancer and only months to live, the Associated Press reported.
Daniel Ellsberg, 91, who copied and leaked Pentagon documents revealing the US strategy in Vietnam, announced on social media last Thursday that he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer last month and doctors had given him only three to six months to live. Ellsberg chose not to undergo chemotherapy, opting instead for hospice care.
Ellsberg leaked the infamous Pentagon Papers to reporter Neil Sheehan who broke the story in June 1971 in the New York Times.
Sheehan, who passed away in 2021, took the documents from the Massachusetts apartment in which Ellsberg had stashed them, copied thousands of pages, and then took them to the New York Times.
The Nixon administration obtained an injunction to stop their publication on the grounds of national security. The move kicked off a heated First Amendment debate that ultimately ended up at the Supreme Court where in a 6-3 decision on June 30, 1971, the Court ruled in favor of publication. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post resumed publishing stories based on the Pentagon Papers.
After the publication of the Pentagon Papers, members of the Nixon White House tried to dig up dirt on Daniel Ellsberg to discredit him, including breaking into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist in Beverly Hills.
Ellsberg was charged with conspiracy, theft, and violating the Espionage Act, however, the case ended in a mistrial after evidence surfaced about government-ordered wiretaps and break-ins.
In his Facebook post last week, Ellsberg said when he obtained the documents in 1969, he believed he would spend the rest of his life in prison, which he described as a “fate” he would have gladly accepted if it meant ending the war in Vietnam. He said the Nixon administration’s “illegal responses” to the Pentagon Papers not only kept him out of prison but also had an “impact on shortening the war.”