fifty years ago June 25, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (June 25, 1971): High cost of secrecyFrom an editorial

The U.S. government has been fighting a losing battle with the press, which has published secret official documents about the origin and escalation of the war in Vietnam. As the Government took the New York Times to court and got the publication of the documents stopped, the task of publication was taken up in turn by the Washington Post, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Boston Globe. The Government got a further jolt when some of the judges held that the newspapers did nothing seriously wrong in publishing the documents, since the consequences might be to preserve national security, rather than endanger it. Though the war in Vietnam continues and American troops are fighting there, it should be pointed that the Pentagon documents concern the decisions of past Presidents like Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson and their advisers. They do not refer to current operations, except in a historical context. Americans have recently begun to ask: “How did we get into this war? Why did we send half a million soldiers there?” The official papers have supplied the information which the public needs in order to evaluate the policies which led to deep American involmement.

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