I have added a new name to my list of heroes - Daniel Ellsberg. As a child, I remember hearing his name and knew that he was in some way connected with the Vietnam War and what was referred to as the Pentagon Papers. The Most Dangerous Man in America, (on DVD) tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg and the pivotal role he played in American history.
in the 1950s, Ellsberg served as a Marine Corps officer, then went to work for the Rand Corp, a military thinktank. He earned a Ph.D in Economics from Harvard in 1962 and then worked at the Pentagon under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and in Vietnam for several years. As a high level Pentagon official, he served as one of the major strategists of the Vietnam War. In 1967, he participated in a study of the classified documents relating to the Vietnam War and concluded that the American people and Congress had been lied to about the War starting with President Truman, and continuing through Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and later, Nixon. In 1971, in an effort to bring this truth to the American public, Ellsberg made the decision to leak the top secret report of this study, known as the Pentagon Papers, to the New York Times. The Nixon administration tried to stop the publication of the study and in an effort to discredit Ellsberg, authorized the break-in of Ellsberg's psychiatrist's office to get "dirt" on him. All of these events surrounding Ellsberg led to the resignation of Richard Nixon and the end of the Vietnam War.
This is a powerful story that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief at the actions of the Nixon administration and, at the same time, feeling grateful for the courage demonstrated by Ellsberg and others in an effort to put an end to an unwinnable war.