Ithaca College Presents 'An Evening With Daniel Ellsberg'

ITHACA, NY — Before there was Wikileaks, there was Daniel Ellsberg. His 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers — a secret study detailing the lies of a succession of presidents about the war in Vietnam — created an uproar and nearly landed him in prison for life.

The Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College will present “An Evening with Daniel Ellsberg” on Wednesday, October 20, in Ford Hall. The Oscar-nominated documentary “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” will be screened at 7 p.m., with Ellsberg speaking at 8:30 p.m. Both the film and lecture are free and open to the public. Ellsberg will sign copies of his books following his talk.

A former Marine, Ellsberg worked at the Pentagon and for the State Department in Vietnam before becoming an analyst at the RAND Corporation think tank. In 1967 he was asked to work on a top-secret study for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara on the history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. His growing anti-war sentiment, combined with what he learned from his research, prompted Ellsberg to photocopy thousands of pages of the study and provide them to select U.S. Senators and media outlets. In June of 1971, the “New York Times” published the first of what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers.

For the leak, the government charged Ellsberg with espionage, conspiracy and theft, posing a possible sentence of 115 years in prison. A judge later dismissed all charges against him on grounds of governmental misconduct when it was discovered during his trial that the Nixon administration had illegally wiretapped Ellsberg’s phone and burglarized his psychiatrist’s office. This misconduct led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against Nixon.

In the ensuing years, Ellsberg has remained a powerful advocate for government transparency and aggressive, independent media. He is the author of the books “Papers on the War,” “Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers” and “Risk, Ambiguity and Decision.” He has been honored with the Ron Ridenhour Courage Prize, Gandhi Peace Award and Right Livelihood Award.

The 2009 film “The Most Dangerous Man in America” — which takes its title from a claim made about Ellsberg by Henry Kissinger — explores the events leading up to the publication of the Pentagon Papers. It was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature and has earned numerous film festival honors.

Based in the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, the Park Center for Independent Media was launched in 2008 as a national center for the study of media outlets that create and distribute content outside traditional corporate systems. For more information, visit or contact Jeff Cohen, director of the center, at or (607) 274-1330.

Daniel Ellsberg