Friday, June 30, 2006

35th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers by Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK)

This editor attended a dinner last evening at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC that marked the 35th anniversary of the release of the Pentagon Papers by Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK) during a Senate subcommittee hearing. Gravel, who is the first Democrat who has filed for the presidency in 2008, and Daniel Ellsberg, were present at the dinner and reminisced about the series of incidents that led to a dramatic showdown with the Nixon administration 35 years ago. In June 1971, the Pentagon Papers were submitted for inclusion in the Congressional Record by Gravel after the Nixon administration managed to get a restraining order that enjoined the New York Times from publishing further classified Pentagon Papers extracts that showed the Pentagon had deceived the American people about the Vietnam War. Gravel personally loaded two heavy carrying cases containing copies of the Pentagon Papers into the trunk of his car that -- parked in front of the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue, just four blocks from the White House. The papers had been transported by plane from Los Angeles by a Washington Post editor who had received them from Ellsberg. The White House was trying every method to prevent the publication of the papers. Gravel, knowing this, kept the two carrying cases under his bed until he took them to the Senate for public release.

Ironically, the anniversary dinner was held during a time when the New York Times is once again dealing with a Republican administration threatening it with legal action over the publication of so- called "classified information" about the faux "global war on terror." A number of speakers saw one big difference between 1971 and 2006: the press was vehemently opposed to the Nixon administration's attempt to stifle the press. Now, the corporate-controlled media rolls over every time the White House makes a demand. Journalists put their jobs and status ahead of their professional duty to inform the public. Ed. note: As long as this situation continues, WMR will continue to inform the public, regardless of the bellicose threats against the press from the Bush administration.

More on Gravel and Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers at Gravel 08 campaign web site.