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Pentagon Papers whistleblower dies at 92

The Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. (Dreamstime/TNS)
June 16, 2023

The whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers exposing the U.S. government’s lies about the Vietnam War has died at age 92, his family announced in a statement on Friday.

Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst, died in his California home, according to The New York Times. Prior to his death, Ellsberg revealed on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with “inoperable pancreatic cancer.”

“I have difficult news to impart. On February 17, without much warning, I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer on the basis of a CT scan and an MRI. (As is usual with pancreatic cancer—which has no early symptoms—it was found while looking for something else, relatively minor. I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live. Of course, they emphasize that everyone’s case is individual; it might be more, or less,” Ellsberg wrote.

Ellsberg said he decided not to do chemotherapy but that he anticipated “great hospice care when needed.”

“Please know: right now, I am not in any physical pain, and in fact, after my hip replacement surgery in late 2021, I feel better physically than I have in years! Moreover, my cardiologist has given me license to abandon my salt-free diet of the last six years. This has improved my quality of life dramatically: the pleasure of eating my former favorite foods! And my energy level is high.”

Ellsberg said he wished everyone at the end of their days would “feel as much joy and gratitude as I do now.”

In 1969, Ellsberg was working as an analyst for the RAND Corporation when he and a colleague secretly copied a Defense Department study revealing the government knew the United States could not win the Vietnam War. The pair offered the study to members of Congress before leaking it to the press.

“I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public,” Ellsberg said at the time. “I did this clearly at my own jeopardy and I am prepared to answer to all the consequences of this decision.”

Ellsberg and his colleague were eventually charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy over the leak, facing more than 100 years in prison if convicted. A federal judge ultimately dismissed the case.

This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.