Complete, Unedited Pentagon Papers Is Now Online

When the New York Times published, in June 1971, a secret government study of the history of the Vietnam War leaked to the Times by then-Pentagon employee Daniel Ellsberg, it was at the time the most complete set of documents available. But there were still gaps in the history those documents revealed, due to redactions and missing material. Now, 40 years later to the day, the National Archives has released the full, unedited Pentagon Papers.

Here are the details, from the National Archives website:

On the 40th anniversary of the leak to the press, the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries, has released the complete report. There are 48 boxes and approximately 7,000 declassified pages. Approximately 34% of the report is available for the first time.

What is unique about this, compared to other versions, is that:

  • The complete Report is now available with no redactions compared to previous releases
  • The Report is presented as Leslie Gelb presented it to then Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford on January 15, 1969
  • All the supplemental back-documentation is included. In the Gravel Edition, 80% of the documents in Part V.B. were not included
  • This release includes the complete account of peace negotiations, significant portions of which were not previously available either in the House Armed Services Committee redacted copy of the Report or in the Gravel Edition

Obviously, there is enormous historic importance in having the complete unredacted set of primary sources documenting what is arguably the most significant several decades of the twentieth century — even if, as the premier news source of our time assures us, the National Archives’ claim that “[a]pproximately 2,384 pages or 34% of the Report will be opened for the first time” is untrue, that only “a few scattered pages … perhaps ‘a couple hundred’ at most” contains “previously unreleased material,” and that those “few scattered pages” include “nothing that dramatically changes our understanding of the war or the Ellsberg case.”

I actually would like to assess the extent and importance of the newly released material myself, thank you very much. You can do so as well, here.

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