The day the presses stopped : a history of the Pentagon papers case / David Rudenstine.

Rudenstine, David [Browse]
Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, 1996.
x, 416 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


Library of Congress genre(s)
Summary note
  • A powerful analysis of one of the most perplexing problems in a democracy--striking the balance between the government's need to keep information confidential and the public's right to be informed. By focusing on one highly charged case, legal scholar Rudenstine puts democracy under a microscope, assessing its strength during a crisis. The result is an account that remains the standard history of this landmark legal confrontation.
  • Commissioned by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and classified as "Top Secret - Sensitive," the 7,000-page Pentagon Papers traced the U.S. involvement in Vietnam from the 1940s through the late 1960s. In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg made the study available to the New York Times, which struggled for three months over whether and how to publish the report. On June 13, 1971, the Times finally went to press with the government's secret history of its land war in Southeast Asia.
  • Publication of the Pentagon reports led the Nixon administration to sue the Times for a prior restraint, unleashing a firestorm of publicity and legal wrangling. A mere fifteen days later the Supreme Court freed the Times and the Washington Post, which had also secured a copy of the documents, to continue publishing their Pentagon Papers series.
  • Contrary to dominant perceptions, Rudenstine argues that the government sued the Times not because it feared political embarrassment or wished to further its campaign against the press but because it believed the Pentagon Papers contained information potentially harmful to U.S. security and needed time to assess the harm that publication could cause.
  • Although he firmly supports the newspapers' victory in the case, Rudenstine asserts that the conflict was far more complicated than has been generally recognized and that the Supreme Court's decision was a resounding vindication of a free press. Rudenstine also identifies the Pentagon Papers episode as the critical experience leading to the Watergate break-in and, ultimately, to Nixon's resignation.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (p. 395-402) and index.
Action note
Committed to retain in perpetuity — ReCAP Shared Collection (HUL)
  • McNamara's study
  • Daniel Ellsberg
  • The New York Times publishes
  • Nixon's turnabout
  • The Justice Department's recommendation
  • The Times is restrained
  • On the eve of the Times trial
  • Inside the White House, part 1
  • The Washington Post publishes
  • The Friday hearing: the public session
  • The Friday hearing: the closed session
  • Gurfein's decision
  • The Post is restrained
  • On the eve of the Post's trial
  • Gesell's decision
  • The Second Circuit
  • The D.C. Circuit
  • Inside the White House, part 2
  • The Supreme Court takes the case
  • The briefs
  • The argument
  • The decision
  • The impact of the disclosures
  • Criminal investigations and impeachable offenses
  • The Supreme Court's decision and democracy.
0520086724 (alk. paper)
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