June 13th, 2011
Gaslight: 40 Years Ago Today, New York Times Begins Publishing the Pentagon Papers
The government stepped in and ordered the Times to stop publication of the papers, and when the newspaper refused, the government sued. An appellate federal court issued a temporary injunction on June 15 which halted further publishing by The New York Times. But by then, additional newspapers like The Washington Post had received portions of the documents and began publishing as well. An intense legal battle followed for the next two weeks in which other newspapers printing portions of the papers were required to cease publishing. On June 30, 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the government did not provide sufficient proof to justify the injunction, marking a landmark victory for a free press under the First Amendment.
Although the papers have been published, both in the newspapers and in subsequent volumes of books, they have never been published in their complete form, entirely free from redactions. But today, to mark the fortieth anniversary of the leak, the National Archives and Records Administration is releasing the completely declassified document for the first time–all 7,000 pages, available here. Thank goodness for e-readers.