On Sunday June 13th, 1971 the New York Times began to publish articles based on a government report entitled "The History of the U.S. Decision Making Process in Vietnam" The Times headline over Neil Sheehan's first story read "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces 3 decades of Growing U.S. Involvement." This headline not only caught the eye of the public but of then National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger who immediately called Nixon to demand he stop further publication of the secret report. In discussing the Pentagon Papers case, what the pentagon papers were and how they were leaked, the key issues of the case, the courts decision and members, and the long term effects of the case will be discussed. .
"The History of the U.S. Decision Making Process in Vietnam" also known as The Pentagon Papers was the Defense Department's top-secret study of the growth of U.S. military participation in Vietnam. The study was begun in June 1967 by then Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. He had the idea for the study through a dinner conversation he had with some old Harvard faculty friends. "The conversation proved frank but friendly. For the first time, I believe, I voiced my feeling that, because the war was not going as hoped, future scholars would surely wish to study why. I thought we should seek to facilitate such study in order to help prevent similar errors in the future. This thought ultimately lead to the "Pentagon Papers.""(McNamara,254) That conversation took place in early 1966. It wasn't until June of 1967 that McNamara, realizing that U.S. involvement in "Indochina had evolved in ways we had neither anticipated or intended, and had costs--human, political, social, and economic--had grown far greater than anyone had imagined."(McNamara,280) Realizing the United States had failed, McNamara asked his assistant secretary for international security affairs, John McNaughton "to start collecting documents for future scholars to use.