Daniel Ellsberg was born in Detroit in 1931. After graduating 

from Harvard in 1952 with a B.A. Summa cum Laude in Economics, he 

studied at Cambridge University, spent three years in the U.S. 

Marine Corps, serving as rifle platoon leader, operations 

officer, and rifle company commander, and earned his Ph.D. in 

Economics from Harvard University in 1962. 

 

Ellsberg became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation and 

served as a consultant to the Department of Defense and the White 

House specializing in problems of the command and control of 

nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. 

 

He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to 

Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs) 

John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State 

Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in 

Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines. 

 

On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, Ellsberg worked on the 

Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 

1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 

1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New 

York Times, Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, 

on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, 

was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct 

against him, which led to the convictions of several White House 

aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against 

President Nixon. 

 

Since the end of the Vietnam War he has been a lecturer, writer 

and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era and unlawful 

interventions. 

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