NEW: The Secret
Briefs and the Secret Evidence
Supreme Court Briefs and Opinions
White House Telephone Conversations
Washington, D.C., June 5, 2001 – Thirty years ago this month, President Nixon picked up his Sunday New York Times on June 13, 1971 to see the wedding picture of his daughter Tricia and himself in the Rose Garden, leading the left-hand side of the front page. Next to that picture, on the right, was the headline over Neil Sheehan's first story on the Pentagon Papers, "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 Decades of Growing U.S. Involvement." Nixon did not read the story (so he says on tape in his 12:18 p.m. phone call with Alexander Haig).
On Monday evening, June 14, Attorney General John Mitchell warned the Times via phone and telegram against further publication; and on Tuesday June 15, the government sought and won an restraining order against the Times – an injunction subsequently extended to the Washington Post when that paper picked up the cause. The epic legal battle that ensued culminated on June 30, 1971 in the U.S. Supreme Court's 6-3 decision to lift the prior restraints – arguably the most important Supreme Court case ever on freedom of the press.
The National Security Archive has now posted on its Web site the following
from the Pentagon Papers case – to our knowledge the first time this
material has ever been published together:
The court material covers the end of the Pentagon Papers case. But it is on the beginning of the case that we now have genuinely new evidence, in the form of the Nixon tapes declassified earlier this year pursuant to the lawsuit by University of Wisconsin historian Stanley Kutler and the Public Citizen Litigation Group.
This Electronic Briefing Book also features, for the first time published anywhere, the audio and transcripts of Nixon's conversations on June 13, 14 and 15 after publication of the Pentagon Papers began. Archive research associate Eddie Meadows copied the recordings at the National Archives and painstakingly transcribed them, as part of our long-term documentation project on Vietnam, under the direction of Archive fellow John Prados.
This briefing book also includes the relevant excerpts from the following memoirs:
The Secret Briefs and the Secret Evidence:
In coming days, this Electronic Briefing Book will add copies of the specific documents in the Pentagon Papers that were cited by the government in various public and secret legal papers as creating immediate harm to U.S. national security. Archive senior fellow John Prados has carried out an exhaustive cross-referencing project using the recently-declassified secret briefs submitted by the government to the courts, together with each of the various editions of the Papers, including the New York Times paperback version (highly condensed and selective), the multivolume Government Printing Office version (officially declassified), Senator Mike Gravel's edition read into a Senate subcommittee record and subsequently published by Beacon, and the four negotiating volumes (which Daniel Ellsberg did not leak) declassified in 1977. Stay tuned for an illuminating documented discussion of secrecy and lies.