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Forty-one years ago, Beacon Press lost a Supreme Court case brought against it by the U.S. government for publishing the first full edition of the Pentagon Papers. It is now well known how The New York Times first published excerpts of the top-secret documents in June 1971, but less well known is how the Beacon Press, a small nonprofit publisher affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association, came to publish the complete 7,000 pages that exposed the true history of U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
In his 1972 dissenting opinion in the Gravel case, Supreme Court Justice Douglas said, "The story of the Pentagon Papers is a chronicle of the suppression of vital decisions to protect the reputations and political hides of men who work an amazingly successful scheme of deception on the American people." And he went on to say in that decision that he had no choice but to hold that it was the government that is lawless, not the press.
So my message is to them: Don’t do what I did. Don’t wait 'til the war has started. Don't wait 'til the bombs have fallen against Iran, or earlier Iraq. Don't wait ’til the engine of this war is unstoppable. Before the war, take the risk. Reveal what you know to be the truth.
Ted Rudow III, MA