The Freedom of Speech and Hunger for Information

             This case came at a time when America was at unrest. A .

             controversial war had divided the country. Opinions and arguments .

             about whether the US involvement in Vietnam was warranted occupied the .

             minds of American citizens. The people were hungry for information .

             regarding the war. The Pentagon Papers, somehow leaked to the New York .

             Times and Washington Post, fulfilled this need of the people for .

             information. The government's assumption of prior restraint seemed to .

             be a major blow to free speech and a sharp addition to the power of .

             the government. The appellate courts' indecisiveness brought the .

             ultimate decision to the Supreme Court. There was a deep division of .

             opinion even among the Justices, and their decision landmarked what .

             had been previously uncharted waters. The background to this landmark .

             case has at its roots U.S. policies in Southeast Asia. These policies, .

             which eventually led to the Vietnam War, were sharply criticized in a .

             study authorized by Secretary of State Robert S. McNamara in 1967. .

             This 47-volume study, officially named History of United States .

             Decision-Making Process on Viet Nam Policy, have come to be known as .

             the Pentagon Papers. These papers detailed the entire history of our .

             involvement in Vietnam from World War II to the beginning of the Paris .

             peace talks. Daniel Ellsberg, an employee of a California think tank, .

             was given access to this study. This think tank held Defense .

             Department contracts to analyze American strategy in Vietnam. Ellsberg .

             had become convinced that our involvement in Vietnam was a mistake, .

             and that American forces should be withdrawn immediately. Ellsberg and .

             a man named Anthony Russo then photocopied the papers in a Los Angeles .

             advertising office. Believing that these papers strongly supported his .

             views, Ellsberg delivered a copy of the Pentagon Papers to Senator .

             William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. .

             Still however, neither party made the papers public.

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