The Freedom of Speech and Hunger for Information
4 Pages
1117 Words

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and that American forces should be withdrawn immediately.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

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