In the early 1960's Daniel Ellsberg started out as a "hawk" who believed in the Vietnam War.
He first served on active duty as a Marine rifle company officer in the 1950's, later a scholar and professor, and by 1959 a senior analyst at the defense-based think-tank, The Rand Institute near Los Angeles.
By 1964, he had become an important intellectual conduit for Defense Secretary Robert McNamara when he and President Lyndon Johnson launched a major American-led escalation of The Vietnam War in 1964 (using a misleading report about attacks on an American warship in The Gulf of Tonkin.)
Risking twenty years in jail for espionage, Ellsberg snuck out a copy of a top secret report about the lies and half-truths and cover-ups that led the American public into endorsing the Vietnam war, a war that cost 58,000 American lives and also killed up to two million Vietnamese. In 1971, he turned these copies over to "The New York Times" and selected Congressmen, and in so doing became a highly controversial figure and a target for the Nixon White House.
The massive tome of papers, that Ellsberg released to the New York Times and selected members of Congress became known as "The Pentagon Papers". This recent documentary explores Ellsberg change of mind and heart about the war he not only analyzed but led a Marine company into battle in. It keenly explores his motivations and those around him, including his wife and his colleagues who also changed their minds on the war.
I found this a riveting documentary. If you're interested in how America went into this war and how leaders don't trust their citizens with the whole truth, or any truth at all at times, its is worth seeing.
**2010 Academy Award Nominee!**
Co-winner of this years Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review (and one of their Five Best Documentaries of the Year), Winner of the Special Jury Award at IDFA, and in contention for the years Best Documentary Oscar, The Most Dangerous Man in America tells the story of Daniel Ellsberg, a high-level Pentagon official and Vietnam War strategist, who in 1971 concluded that the war is based on decades of lies and leaks 7,000 pages of top secret documents to The New York Times, making headlines around the world. A riveting story of how this one mans profound change of heart created a landmark struggle involving Americas newspapers, its president and Supreme Court. With Daniel Ellsberg, Patricia Ellsberg, Tony Russo, Howard Zinn, Hedrick Smith, John Dean, and, from the secret White House tapes, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, who called Ellsberg the most dangerous man in America.