Daniel Ellsberg: The Whistleblower Who Defied the Odds Dies at 92

Credit by: Cmichel67 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Daniel Ellsberg was hated and loved simultaneously. For some, he was a courageous figure who fearlessly challenged the status quo. While others saw him as a traitor. Yet, he forever etched his place in history.  

With the recent passing of Daniel Ellsberg at the age of 92, it’s important to reflect on his life, whose actions shook the foundations of power and sparked a national debate on government transparency and the Vietnam War. 

Daniel Ellsberg Unveiled the Pentagon Papers

One of the defining moments in Daniel Ellsberg’s life came when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret government study that revealed the truth about the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War. Published by major newspapers in 1971, these documents exposed decades of lies and deceit by the government, ultimately changing public perception of the war. Ellsberg’s brave act was not without consequences, as he faced charges of espionage and theft, risking his freedom to ensure the American people had access to the truth. 

Daniel Ellsberg’s decision to leak the Pentagon Papers had far-reaching consequences. The release of these classified documents not only led to increased skepticism and public outcry over the Vietnam War but also triggered a landmark legal case that tested the limits of the First Amendment. The Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of the freedom of the press in the case of New York Times Co. v. United States set a precedent for protecting whistleblowers and investigative journalism. 

Since then, he walked around the US as a friend to many and a foe to others. However, he never served any jail time. It is said that some of his famous friends such as the Beatles and Barbara Streisand helped him stay out of the “big house.” All of that is history now as his chapter in this world has ended. 

As we bid farewell to Daniel Ellsberg, we are reminded of the enduring legacy he leaves behind. He will remain in American history and, most likely, spoken about for generations.