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50 Years Ago, Daniel Ellsberg — Who Leaked The Pentagon Papers — Surrendered At Boston Federal Court

Fifty years ago, something that would come to shape modern U.S. history happened on the steps of the federal courthouse in Boston: Daniel Ellsberg surrendered to authorities.

Ellsberg was a researcher at MIT. He had been a defense researcher for the Pentagon and helped compile a report that documented the U.S. role in the Vietnam War. The report became known as the Pentagon Papers.

It was thousands of pages long and detailed how one administration after the other lied to the American public about the scope of the war — and that the U.S. was losing.

Ellsberg gave the report to The New York Times and The Washington Post.

To mark this day in history, WBUR's All Things Considered host Lisa Mullins spoke with journalist David Freudberg. He was just 16 years old at the time, and covered Ellsberg's trial for NPR.

Interview Highlights

On the context of Ellsberg's surrender: 

"There had been a nationwide manhunt organized by the FBI to find the person who had leaked the Pentagon Papers documents to The New York Times. The Times knew the source, but it was not known to the federal government. And this manhunt ensued and it was clear that Ellsberg was going to have to surrender and there was a crush of reporters at the federal courthouse in Boston, and he gave a brief statement about why it was worth releasing these documents to the public media."

Read entire article at WBUR