Daniel Ellsberg, the political activist and former military analyst best known as the whistleblower behind the release of the Pentagon Papers that exposed a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, passed away today after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
In memoriam, The GroundTruth Project is rebooting its podcast, “The Whistleblower: Truth, Dissent and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg.” The five-part series initially aired in 2021 in the weeks leading up to the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers being leaked to and published by the New York Times, Washington Post and other newspapers. The series was produced in partnership with the University of Massachusetts Amherst and GBH in Boston.
“It is rare in life that you get to know one of your heroes,” writes Charles M. Sennott, GroundTruth founder and Editor-in-Chief, in a column published today. “Daniel Ellsberg gave me that opportunity, and for the last four years I have had the great privilege to get to know Dan and his wife Patricia and I’ve had the great honor to tell their story in our podcast.”
Ellsberg’s leaking of the Pentagon Papers, 7,000 pages of photocopied classified documents, showed in vivid detail that four successive presidential administrations had knowingly lied to the American public about U.S. policy on Vietnam. Upon turning himself in for the unauthorized disclosure, Ellsberg was charged with violating the Espionage Act and theft of government property. He faced 115 years in prison.
In the Whistleblower podcast, Ellsberg revealed new chapters of his story through a set of exclusive interviews with GroundTruth as well as previously unseen documents, diaries and audio from his personal archive. Additionally, the podcast drew comparisons between the events of Vietnam and more recent conflicts, like the war in Afghanistan.
A special one-hour edition of the podcast is available to public radio stations across the country via PRX Exchange.
About The GroundTruth Project
The GroundTruth Project is an award-winning nonprofit journalism organization dedicated to rebuilding journalism from the ground up. GroundTruth serves under-covered communities by supporting the next generation of journalists to do on-the-ground reporting and to advance sustainability, innovation and equity in journalism worldwide. GroundTruth’s flagship programs — Report for America and Report for the World — place talented, diverse local reporters in the newsrooms that need them most.