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Press Release:


FAU Presents 'Daniel Ellsberg Speaks: The Pentagon Papers 40 Years Later'

BOCA RATON, FL (January 25, 2011) – Florida Atlantic University’s Alan B. Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency presents “Daniel Ellsberg Speaks: The Pentagon Papers 40 Years Later,” a discussion with Daniel Ellsberg and George Herring, along with a free screening of the Academy Award nominated film “The Most Dangerous Man in America.”In the 1970s, Daniel Ellsberg, a military analyst with Top Secret security clearances, released the Pentagon Papers, detailing the secret history of the Vietnam War. This was the biggest national security leak in U.S. history prior to recent events surrounding WikiLeaks.

The free screening of “The Most Dangerous Man in America:Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” will take place on Tuesday, February 15, at 3:30 p.m. in the University Theatre on FAU’s Boca Raton campus, 777 Glades Road. Following the screening, a discussion and commentary will be led by George Herring, the leading authority on the Pentagon Papers and the Vietnam War. More information on the film can be found at

Ellsberg’s lecture and book signing will take place on Wednesday, February 16, at 3 p.m. in the Kaye Auditorium in the Student Union on FAU’s Boca Raton campus. Tickets for the lecture are $12 for the public and may be obtained by visiting or calling 1-800-564-9539. Students and teachers can pick up free tickets at the box office in the Student Union by presenting their faculty or student ID cards.

Ellsberg became the most famous dissident in American history when he released the top secret Pentagon Papers to the media in 1971.  All told, he leaked over 7,000 pages of classified documents that revealed in meticulous detail the lies and deceptions behind the Vietnam War.  Instantly, Ellsberg became America's most wanted man.  Richard Nixon's top advisor, Henry Kissinger, called him "the most dangerous man in America."

Ellsberg was once the ultimate government insider who worked for some of the most important officials who planned and executed the Vietnam War.  He was at the Pentagon when President Lyndon B. Johnson used the Tonkin Gulf incident as a pretext for escalating the war in 1964.  Ellsberg even volunteered to don a uniform and see the war first hand.  Venturing into some of the most dangerous territory in Vietnam, he crisscrossed the country with legendary counterinsurgency experts Edward Lansdale and John Paul Vann.

The more Ellsberg learned about the war, the more he came to believe that the U.S. should have had no part in it. He recalled, “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.” That conclusion jumped off the pages of the Pentagon Papers. Their publication turned Daniel Ellsberg into one of America’s most influential peace advocates, and, to some, the country’s most notorious traitor. 

President Nixon was so threatened by Ellsberg that he created a special unit designed to silence him, the so-called “dirty tricks” squad. Members of this group raided Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office, an incident which ultimately backfired on Nixon as it set in motion the chain of events that culminated in the Watergate burglary scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

In the wake of these remarkable events, Ellsberg became a leading anti-nuclear activist, free speech advocate, and one of the earliest and most prescient opponents of the war in Iraq. He has also been a passionate defender of Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks.  Ellsberg is the author of the best-selling memoir, Secrets: a Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers, and his life has been the subject of two movies.

Ellsberg’s lecture at FAU is part of the Alan B. Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency, which was made possible by a generous endowment to the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters history department by the family of Alan Larkin, a magazine publisher who died in 2002. Larkin had a true passion for American history, particularly the presidency, and his family hopes the annual series will promote a broader understanding of important issues related to the history of the executive branch of government.  Additional support for the symposium comes from the Palm Beach County Tourist Development Council and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.  For more information, visit or call the box office at 1-800-564-9539.   

- FAU -

About Florida Atlantic University:

Florida Atlantic University opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University serves more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students on seven campuses and sites. Building on its rich tradition as a teaching university, with a world-class faculty, FAU hosts 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of  Education, the College of  Engineering & Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. For more information, visit .

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