The Pentagon Papers

Timeline created by cpapini
  • Writing of the Pentagon Papers begins

    Defense Secretary Robert McNamara commissions a special Vietnam task force to write up a document detailing events and the descision-making processes in Vietnam. Daniel Ellsberg is one of the men who works on writing the papers.
  • Pentagon Papers are completed

    The Pentagon Papers are completed in 47 volumes with over 4000 pages of documents and 3000 pages of writing. Only 15 copies are made.
  • President Nixon is inaugurated

  • Pentagon Papers are transported

    Daniel Ellsberg transports the first installment of 38 of the volumes for RAND, who got a copy of the papers.
  • Pentagon Papers are transported

    Ellsberg finishes moving the second installment of the volumes from Washington, D.C. to California.
  • Period: to

    The Pentagon Papers are copied

    Daniel Ellsberg and his RAND colleague Anthony Russo copy the Pentagon Papers, often with his children helping. Ellsberg leaves the office late at night with his briefcase full of the Pentagon Papers, copies them at home, and returns them to the RAND safe early each morning.
  • The New York Times gets the Papers

    New York Times reporter Neil Sheenan meets Daniel Ellsberg in Massachusetts. Ellsberg leads Sheenan to a hotel apartment, where he is given the Pentagon Papers. Sheenan has the papers copied again in Boston and returns to Washington.
  • First installment of the Papers is published

    The first installment of the Pentagon Papers is published in the New York Times. It focuses on the Tonkin Gulf incident in 1964, and how military actions were used to ensure a greater reaction in the American public.
  • Second installment of the Papers

    The second part of the Pentagon Papers is published, this time detailing the bombing of Vietnam on the day of Johnson's inauguration, despite promises to pull out of the war. Attorney General John Mitchell telegrams the Times and asks them to stop publishing the Papers, saying that they could cause "irrepareable injury to the United States".
  • Publication of Papers stops

    The New York Times stops publication of the Pentagon Papers, instead running an article about how a judge had temporarily halted publication of the papers at the request of the government. The assistant manager of the Washington Post contacts Ellsberg, and arranges to meet him and pick up a copy of the Papers.
  • Boston Globe gets Papers

    The Boston Globe contacts Daniel Ellsberg, and also agrees to publish the Pentagon Papers.
  • Publication continues

    The Boston Globe and the Chicago Sun-Times also begin to publish the Pentagon Papers.
  • Newspapers win court case

    The Supreme Court declares that the newspapers have a right to publish the Pentagon Papers in a 6-3 vote. All restraining orders on the newspapers are dissolved. The U.S. Attorney invicts Ellsberg with two counts of theft and espionage.
  • Ellsberg is convicted

    A second indictment leaves Ellsberg facing five counts of theft, six counts of espionage, and 105 years of jail time.
  • Charges are dismissed

    All charges against Ellsberg are dismissed when one judge recieves a memorandum from a Watergate prosecuter claiming that Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office was burglarized in order to obtain his filings.