Vietnam War A collection of documents related to Ellsberg’s interest and participation in the Vietnam War.

1960s: Days of Rage


“Daniel Ellsberg went to Vietnam for the first time in September 1961 as part of a Pentagon fact-finding task force. He hoped to learn that the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem, with U.S. backing, was defeating the Communist-led insurgency of the Viet Cong. After all, Ellsberg was a dedicated cold warrior, a foreign policy hawk. He discovered, instead, that Saigon was losing the war; a Communist victory seemed virtually inevitable. Returning to his job at the RAND corporation think tank in Santa Monica, California, he advised colleagues to avoid studying Vietnam–it might taint their careers. Ellsberg himself went back to his work on nuclear war plans. Three years later, a call came from Robert McNamara’s Pentagon. … His first full day on the job was August 4, 1964–the very day President Lyndon Johnson ordered American warplanes to attack North Vietnam in ‘retaliation’ for what he described as an…

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