Leaker of Pentagon Papers dies at 92

June 17, 2023
Robert Ayers

Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, has died at the age of 92. 

The news of Ellsberg's passing was released in a letter that Ellsberg's family posted to Twitter on Friday.

"Today, Daniel Ellsberg died peacefully in his home in Kensington, California," the letter begins.

"He was not in pain, and was surrounded by loving family," the letter adds.

Cause of death

Ellsberg's family indicated that his cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Back in early March, Ellsberg released a message on Twitter revealing his diagnosis. He wrote:

I have difficult news to impart. On February 17, without much warning, I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer on the basis of a CT scan and an MRI . . . I'm sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live.

Ellsberg went on to say that he had chosen not to pursue treatment.

It appears that, unfortunately, the doctors' prognosis of "three to six months to live" was accurate in this case.

Remembering Ellsberg

As stated at the outset, Ellsberg is perhaps best known for leaking the Pentagon Papers.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Ellsberg's leak of classified documents showed the true scale of the United States's involvement in Vietnam, revealing that multiple presidential administrations had lied to the public and Congress between 1946-1967. The papers, which he provided to the New York Times and Washington Post and were first published in 1971, showed the U.S.'s expansion of its actions in Vietnam without informing the public.

Ellsberg, a military analyst, ended up being charged under the Espionage Act as well as with theft and conspiracy. But, in 1973, the case ended in a mistrial after it had been discovered that the government had illegally gathered evidence against Ellsberg.

"It was a fate I would gladly have accepted"

Back in March, when he announced his cancer diagnosis, Ellsberg reflected on his leaking of the Pentagon Papers.

He wrote:

When I copied the Pentagon Papers in 1969, I had every reason to think I would be spending the rest of my life behind bars. It was a fate I would gladly have accepted if it meant hastening the end of the Vietnam War, unlikely as that seemed (and was). Yet in the end that action — in ways I could not have foreseen, due to Nixon's illegal responses — did have an impact on shortening the war.

In his final months, Ellsberg spoke publicly about the nuclear dangers posed, in particular, by the Russia-Ukraine war.

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