Daniel Ellsberg, Who Leaked the Pentagon Papers, Is Dead at 92

Deeply disturbed by the accounting of American deceit in Vietnam, he approached The New York Times. The disclosures that followed rocked the nation.

By Robert D. McFadden

June 16, 2023

“Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst who after experiencing a sobbing antiwar epiphany on a bathroom floor made the momentous decision in 1971 to disclose a secret history of American lies and deceit in Vietnam, what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers, died on Friday at his home in Kensington, Calif., in the Bay Area. He was 92.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his wife and children said in a statement.

In March, Mr. Ellsberg, in an email message to “Dear friends and supporters,” announced that he had recently been told he had inoperable pancreatic cancer and said that his doctors had given him an estimate of three to six months to live.

The disclosure of the Pentagon Papers — 7,000 government pages of damning revelations about deceptions by successive presidents who exceeded their authority, bypassed Congress and misled the American people — plunged a nation that was already wounded and divided by the war deeper into angry controversy.

It led to illegal countermeasures by the White House to discredit Mr. Ellsberg, halt leaks of government information and attack perceived political enemies, forming a constellation of crimes known as the Watergate scandal that led to the disgrace and resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.”