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The Pentagon Papers

Last night, I watched “The Most Dangerous Man in America; Daniel Ellsberg & The Pentagon Papers,” based on Dr. Ellsberg’s memoir, “Secrets; A Memoir of Vietnam and The Pentagon Papers.” http://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Memoir-Vietnam-Pentagon-Papers/dp/0670030309. The documentary is up for an Oscar this year.

Both the film and the book are formidable. They are important historical documents and riveting stories, filled with fascinating characters and dramatic tension. After watching the documentary with my daughter and son-in-law, I was so wound up I could not sleep. I cleaned up the kitchen, checked my email, began writing this blog entry, checked the New York Times. The Wikileaks leak is in the papers. Secrets revealed. What will become of this war? When will it end? What will become of the Afghan people? How voluntary is a volunteer army in a time of economic recession? How many more body bags will be shipped home? What does the President know that we don’t know?

My husband served in the Seventh Fleet during the Vietnam War, many friends were war resisters, and our home in London was a salon and sometime dormitory for AWOL soldiers and expatriates. The Vietnam War was a very personal war for me. And Daniel Ellsberg's story, a very important story. And I have another connection to him. His son, Robert, was my editor on “Another Day in Paradise; International Humanitarian Workers Tell Their Stories.” He’s the editor-in-chief at Orbis Books, owned by the Maryknolls who are dedicated to humanitarian work all over the world.

I never discussed the Pentagon Papers with Robert when I was working with him on the book. And I never knew his part in the story. He was thirteen-years-old when his father invited him to help photocopy the Pentagon Papers. These documents were leaked to seventeen newspapers in the United States and were in large part responsible for ending the war and Nixon’s presidency.

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