A stream of national security leaks has lately turned into a tsunami, plunging the country into the most intense controversy over the publication of government secrets since the 1971 Pentagon Papers case. As we wade through the issues raised by the illicitly disclosed information now flowing out of Washington, it is a useful moment to look back at that seminal legal battle. More than a few books tell the story of Daniel Ellsberg’s famous leak of a trove of secret Defense Department documents to theNew York Times and other newspapers and Richard Nixon’s subsequent efforts to stop the presses. A new volume by an inside player in the great legal drama has now, four decades later, joined the crowd.
Monthly Archives: August 2013
James C. Goodale offers a view of events as seen from his perch as general counsel at the Times during the case. Goodale was not a First Amendment lawyer back when the case broke; the general counsels of great newspapers in that era were typically more concerned with business dealings than with constitutional niceties. He had to get up to speed, and he immersed himself in the intricacies of the espionage statutes. Continue reading