Government to release Pentagon Papers–40 years late

Remember the Pentagon Papers? First published in 1971 after being leaked by anti-war activist Daniel Ellsberg, the once top-secret history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam have been the subject of innumerable news articles, several books and are even available online. And next month, the documents will be officially released by the U.S. government.

The fact that the papers have never been formally declassified “underscores the convoluted and plodding nature of a U.S. secrecy system that classifies many documents not needing such protection and releases too slowly many others that have long since gone benign,”

A. J. Daverede says at the National Archives blog. Even though people have been reading and writing about the Pentagon Papers for decades, what has been available to the public are incomplete versions originally based on clandestine copies Ellsberg made while an analyst at Rand. Next months release will give the public its first look at the full 7,000-page report.

Except for 11 words, Steven Aftergood notes at Secrecy News, a publication of the Federation of American Scientists. The 11 words, all on a single page, remain classified, and officials have not disclosed their nature or the reason for the continued secrecy. David S. Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, suggests the missing words might be fodder for a policy wonk’s game of Mad Libs.