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The Pentagon Papers: All Three Versions Posted Allowing Side-by-Side Comparison

The National Security Archive at George Washington University announced today that they have posted all three major editions of the Pentagon Papers.

  • Complete Pentagon Papers At Last!, National Security Archive, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 359, (September 16, 2011) Edited By John Prados.

    For the first time ever, all three major editions of the Pentagon Papers are being made available simultaneously online. The posting today by the National Security Archive at George Washington University (www.nsarchive.org), allows for a unique side-by-side comparison, showing readers exactly what the U.S. government tried to hide for 40 years by means of deletions from the original text.

    Today’s posting includes the full texts of the “Gravel” edition entered into Congressional proceedings in 1971 by Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) and later published by the Beacon Press, the authorized 1971 declassified version issued by the House Armed Services Committee with deletions insisted on by the Nixon administration, and the new 2011 “complete” edition released in June by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

The Archive is also holding a contest, inviting readers to nominate the “11 words” that some officials tried to keep secret even this year.

Those 11 words in the Pentagon Papers: redacted, not redacted.

It turns out that the mysterious eleven words that were supposed to have been redacted when the Pentagon Papers were officially released had already been published 40 years ago making their continued classification moot. Neither the classifying agency nor the now restored eleven words themselves were publicly identified.

Pentagon Papers Now Online

The “Pentagon Papers,” officially titled “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” are now online at the National Archives in PDF format:

  • Pentagon Papers, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.
    On the 40th anniversary of the leak to the press, the National Archives, along with the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential Libraries, has released the complete report. There are 48 boxes and approximately 7,000 declassified pages. Approximately 34% of the report is available for the first time.

    What is unique about this, compared to other versions, is that:

    • The complete Report is now available with no redactions compared to previous releases
    • The Report is presented as Leslie Gelb presented it to then Secretary of Defense Clark Clifford on January 15, 1969
    • All the supplemental back-documentation is included. In the Gravel Edition, 80% of the documents in Part V.B. were not included
    • This release includes the complete account of peace negotiations, significant portions of which were not previously available either in the House Armed Services Committee redacted copy of the Report or in the Gravel Edition

Pentagon Papers on C-SPAN

C-SPAN will have special programming about the Pentagon Papers this weekend:

On June 13th, 1971, the New York Times began publishing the “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret Defense Department study on the United States political and military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 through 1967. On the 40th anniversary, this Monday, June 13th, the government will mark the study as declassified and release it to the public in its entirety.

On Saturday, June 11 at 6:00pm ET, tune in to C-SPAN Radio to hear the landmark 1971 Supreme Court Oral Argument as the Nixon Administration attempted to prevent the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

On Sunday, June 12 at 5:20pm ET, tune in to American History TV on C-SPAN 3 to view a panel discussion from 2006, marking the 35th anniversary of when the New York Times first published the story. Panelists included Daniel Ellsberg who first leaked the study to the New York Times.

Along with C-SPAN, and C-SPAN 2, both C-SPAN 3 and C-SPAN Radio are available to stream LIVE online, anytime:

Planning for a digital release of the Pentagon Papers

As noted here earlier “NARA is planning a digital/textual release of the Pentagon Papers for the week of June 13, 2011. This simultaneous release will be conducted by the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, the Richard M. Nixon Presidential Library, and the National Declassification Center at College Park.”

We’re waiting for details, but NARA says that they “are looking to host a digital version on the archives.gov website, and the three Presidential libraries (Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon) are planning their own access to the same digital version.”

NARA will maintain its own preservation copies of digital records but will not be sending copies to GPO.


The archives has announced that “The materials will also be available online at http://www.archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers/ June 13, at 12 noon EDT.”

According to the New York Times NARA announced Tuesday that the 11 words, which it had said would be redacted on one page of the Papers, would be published after all.