Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg diagnosed with terminal cancer


By Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” about the Vietnam War and exposed years of related U.S. government lies, said on Thursday that terminal pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed in him.

“On February 17, without much warning, I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer,” Ellsberg, 91, said in a statement on Twitter. “I’m sorry to report to you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live.”

The Pentagon Papers, whose official title was “Report of the Office of the Secretary of Defense Vietnam Task Force,” were a multi-volume, top-secret government study of how the U.S. ended up in a bloody stalemate in Vietnam.

The revelation of parts of the study was considered a bombshell because the Pentagon Papers contradicted years of government assurances about the war.


In 1971, Ellsberg, at the time a governmental consultant who had helped prepare the study, leaked the documents to the New York Times and other newspapers.

The documents shifted the public’s understanding of the war. They showed that successive U.S. administrations had secretly enlarged the scope of American military action in Vietnam even as U.S. leaders became convinced the war was unwinnable.

After the revelations, the U.S. Justice Department brought criminal charges against Ellsberg for leaking the documents to the media. The charges were dismissed in 1973 after a mistrial in 1972.

Ellsberg, who will turn 92 in April and has been a human rights advocate and an anti-war activist for decades, said on Thursday he chose not to do chemotherapy. He added that he had assurance of “great hospice care” when needed.

Despite the diagnosis, Ellsberg said he was not in physical pain and was continuing to do interviews and webinars.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington. Editing by Gerry Doyle)