WASHINGTON — The US government on Thursday announced the release of the famed “Pentagon Papers,” 40 years after the once top-secret Vietnam War documents were leaked to the media.
The National Archives, the massive US repository for historic books and documents, announced that the files, now declassified, will be accessible starting next month at the Richard Nixon presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California.
Officially titled “United States-Vietnam Relations, 1945-1967: A Study Prepared by the Department of Defense,” the top-secret report detailed US political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.
It was commissioned in June 1967 by then defense secretary Robert McNamara, who wanted an exhaustive history of the Vietnam War. But it revealed a greater level of US military involvement in Vietnam than had been made publicly known.
The papers, first published on the front page of the New York Times in 1971, created a major scandal and were deemed instrumental in the decision by then-president Lyndon Johnson not to stand for re-election, as public opposition to the war grew.
The Times received the document from Daniel Ellsberg, at the time a military analyst employed by the Pentagon.