Many people attribute the hastening of the Vietnam War’s end to leaks that a man named Daniel Ellsberg made to both The New York Times and The Washington Post in 1971. Ellsberg was a former Marine and worked at the Pentagon in the early 1960s. Later he worked as an analyst, handling classified information at the RAND Corporation, where he photocopied documents proving, among other deceptions by the United States government, that American forces were secretly involved in Laos and Cambodia.
In 1989, Ellsberg wrote a 9-page whitepaper titled “For Gary Snyder’s 60th Birthday, The First Two Times We Met.” In it, he describes meeting Snyder in Kyoto, Japan in 1960, where they sparred over beer about Gary being a pacifist. Ellsberg claims Gary’s words weighed on him for the next decade as he discovered more and more information about the U.S. involvement in Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Because of Snyder’s arguments, Ellsberg says he eventually reversed his position on the war and released the documents to the U.S. media.
Read the full account in Daniel Ellsberg’s “For Gary Snyder’s 60th Birthday, The First Two Times We Met” (PDF, 9 pages)
Ellsberg further states he went to meet with Snyder a second time, this time in California. It was 1970, right before the publication of The Pentagon Papers, and he told him “something big” was about to happen, but didn’t give Snyder any specifics because he didn’t want to implicate him.
Ellsberg’s papers reside at UMass Amherst. See more…
Soon after his leaked documents were making headlines around the world, Daniel Ellsberg was arrested on charges of conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property, and faced 115 years in prison if convicted. All charges were eventually dismissed by a federal judge when it was discovered the Nixon Administration, through E. Howard Hunt and Special Counsel to the President Chuck Colson, had ordered a break-in of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office to search for incriminating evidence. A short time later, the same “White House Plumbers”—agents of the Nixon Administration charged with stopping such leaks—orchestrated the now-infamous break-in and wiretapping of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. These events culminated when Richard Nixon, facing certain impeachemnt, resigned the presidency in 1974.