Where we you on 13 June 1971?
There was a publication that blew the top off the story of the year…….
46 years ago today the first part of the Pentagon papers was published…..
On 13 June 2011 the papers were declassified and the question was asked…..do the Pentagon Papers still matter?
The declassification and online release Monday of the full original version of the Pentagon Papers – the 7,000-page top secret Pentagon study of US decision-making in Vietnam 1945-67 – comes 40 years after I gave it to 19 newspapers and to Senator Mike Gravel (minus volumes on negotiations, which I had given only to the Senate foreign relations committee). Gravel entered what I had given him in the congressional record and later published nearly all of it with Beacon Press. Together with the newspaper coverage and a government printing office (GPO) edition that was heavily redacted but overlapped the Senator Gravel edition, most of the material has been available to the public and scholars since 1971. (The negotiation volumes were declassified some years ago; the Senate, if not the Pentagon, should have released them no later than the end of the war in 1975.)
In other words, today’s declassification of the whole study comes 36 to 40 years overdue. Yet, unfortunately, it happens to be peculiarly timely that this study gets attention and goes online just now. That’s because we’re mired again in wars – especially in Afghanistan – remarkably similar to the 30-year conflict in Vietnam, and we don’t have comparable documentation and insider analysis to enlighten us on how we got here and where it’s likely to go.
The Papers still matter because it shows at what lengths the government will go and the death of Americans matter not.
The “Paper” matter to me because I learned why I was fighting in Vietnam and the disastrous decisions that got me there.
History lesson is over…you may return to your normal day…..