Neil Sheehan, Reporter Who Obtained the Pentagon Papers, Dies at 84

In The New York Occasions Guide Assessment in December 1970, he wrote that america “desperately wants a sane and trustworthy inquiry into the query of struggle crimes and atrocities in Vietnam.”

Three months later, he concluded that there was no ethical or authorized distinction between the killing of 25,000 noncombatants within the Philippines throughout World Struggle II, for which america had tried and hanged a Japanese common, and the deaths of tens of hundreds of civilians in Vietnam. “The extra perspective we acquire on our conduct, the uglier our conduct seems,” he wrote.

Mr. Ellsberg, who had copied the Pentagon Papers illicitly within the hope of hastening the top of the struggle, wrote in his 2002 memoir that he had supplied them to Mr. Sheehan and later gave him a key to the condo in Cambridge, Mass., the place he had stashed them. He advised Mr. Sheehan he might make notes however not photocopy the paperwork. He realized solely later, he wrote, that Mr. Sheehan had returned when Mr. Ellsberg was out of city, eliminated the papers, photocopied them and brought the copies again to The Occasions.

Satisfied that the papers had been too essential for him to run the chance that they may by no means be made public, Mr. Sheehan took benefit of Mr. Ellsberg’s absence from Cambridge to override his directions, spiriting the copied paperwork again to Washington in luggage strapped onto an airplane seat beside him.

Accepting an award later that 12 months, Mr. Sheehan mentioned that The Occasions, in publishing the papers, had given “to the American individuals, who had given to those that ruled us 45,000 of their sons and $100 billion of their treasure, a small accounting of a debt that may by no means be repaid.”

“But when to report now be known as theft, and if to publish now be known as treason, then so be it,” he added. “Let God give us the braveness to commit extra of the identical.”

Mr. Sheehan was the writer of three different books, together with “After the Struggle Was Over: Hanoi and Saigon,” based mostly on a visit to Vietnam in 1989, and “A Fiery Peace in a Chilly Struggle: Bernard Schriever and the Final Weapon” (2009), a historical past of the arms race and the story of the Air Drive common accountable for the creation of America’s intercontinental ballistic missile system.

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