Newton Minow recalls what happened to Rand when the Pentagon Papers came outBreaking News
tags: Watergate, Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers, Nixon, Trump, Rand
I had been chairman of the board at Rand for only a few weeks when the corporation’s president called me to say that a Rand employee, Daniel Ellsberg, was responsible for leaking the Pentagon Papers. The leaked documents, intended for future historians, revealed decades of deception from at least three presidents and their defense secretaries about our efforts in Vietnam.
The leak threatened the credibility and reputation of Rand, a highly respected not-for-profit think tank. The Defense Department immediately announced that it was canceling Rand’s security clearance, which could have shut it down.
I immediately went to Washington to see then-Deputy Defense Secretary David Packard. I told him I brought greetings from my fellow Rand trustee, Bill Hewlett. The two men had co-founded Hewlett-Packard in a one-car garage in Palo Alto, Calif., and it went on to become one of the world’s leading technology companies. Packard perked up.
“How is Bill?” I told him that Bill was not so good because the Defense Department had taken away Rand’s security clearance. I then told him that I intended to hold a news conference the next morning to explain that Ellsberg was at Rand because the Defense Department sent him there with the top-secret clearance it had given him.
After conferring with his lawyer, Packard disclosed that the department rescinded the security clearance on the direct orders of the president, and he asked for a few days to renew it. I canceled my news conference. Packard kept his word, and Rand continues to provide the government with nonpartisan, independent analysis four decades later.
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