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New York Times Company v. United States

The Pentagon Papers

The Pentagon Papers was a voluminous study secretly conducted for the U.S. Defense Department, from 1967 to 1969. Its official name was the History of the U.S. Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policy. This classified document was highly critical of the policies employed by the United States in Southeast Asia, which subsequently contributed to the Vietnam War.

In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg released the study to the New York Times, which along with the Washington Post began publishing portions of the material through a series of articles. Citing national security issues, the U.S. Department of Justice ordered the papers to cease publication of the material. However, this edict was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court asserting that Freedom of the Press rights overrode national security interests.

Circulation of The Pentagon Papers in the newspapers resumed. Later in 1971, the study was organized and published in book form. Daniel Ellsberg, the individual responsible for release of the information, was indicted on charges of theft, espionage, and conspiracy. These charges were ultimately dropped after the discovery that some of President Richard Nixon's staff had broken into Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1963 to 1972New York Times Company v. United States - Significance, The Government Moves To Stop The Leak, Supreme Court Throws Out Government's Case