As the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers case approached, First Amendment scholars Lee Bollinger and Geoffrey Stone knew they wanted to mark the occasion somehow.
Much has changed since RAND Corporation employee Daniel Ellsberg decided spend weeks photocopying some 7,000 pages of a classified report on the war in Vietnam and sneaking them out via his briefcase to be published by the New York Times and the Washington Post. For one thing, since 2011, the complete report has been made available to the public by the National Archives. For another, it has become both easier to download and spirit away classified information, and easier to use digital trails to identify any leakers.
In the digital age, should we still be using the Pentagon Papers case as precedent, and how should we approach modern examples of leakers like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Reality Winner? Bollinger and Stone gathered together about 30 experts in the fields of national security, journalism and academia to tackle the questions raised by 50 years of post-Pentagon Papers jurisprudence.
The commission’s report and essays from the various contributors were compiled into the book National Security, Leaks and Freedom of the Press: The Pentagon Papers Fifty Years On. In this episode of the Modern Law Library, Bollinger and Stone discuss their experience working on the project, the developments they found most surprising, and some of the best practices suggested by the commission.