Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who exposed the U.S. government’s lies about the Vietnam War by leaking the Pentagon Papers to some of the nation’s leading newspapers, has died, his family said in a statement Friday.

He was 92.

Ellsberg’s death came about four months after he announced on Twitter that he had been diagnosed with “inoperable pancreatic cancer.”

“I regret to inform you that my doctors have given me three to six months to live,” he wrote on March 2.

Ellsberg was working as an analyst for the RAND Corporation in 1969 when he and a colleague named Anthony Russo secretly copied a 7,000-page study privately commissioned by the Department of Defense that revealed that the US government knew the Vietnam War was unwinnable at the outset.

Initially, Ellsberg and Russo offered the study to several members of Congress and government officials before deciding to release it to the paper.

Then-President Richard Nixon called them traitors and tried to stop publication of the Pentagon Papers, first in The New York Times and then in The Washington Post. However, the US Supreme Court sided with newspapers in June 1971 with a landmark decision banning prior restrictions on free speech.

Two days before the landmark ruling, Ellsberg resigned from the US attorney’s office in Boston.

“I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in withholding this information from the American public,” he said. “I have clearly done so at my own peril and I am prepared to answer for all the consequences of this decision.”

Ellsberg and Russo were subsequently charged with espionage, theft and conspiracy to leak information. They went to trial in Los Angeles, where the papers were copied, and Ellberg faced a maximum of 115 years in prison if convicted.

However, a federal judge dismissed the case in 1973, ruling that the government was guilty of misconduct, including the White House’s attempt to find ammunition to discredit Ellsberg by breaking into his psychiatrist’s office in Beverly Hills.

Born April 7, 1931, in Chicago, Ellsberg grew up in Detroit, the son of non-religious Jews who became devout Christian Scientists. He first encountered tragedy in 1946, when his mother and sister died in a car accident this happened after his father fell asleep at the wheel. He was in the car too.

Ellsberg earned an economics degree from Harvard in 1952 and enlisted in the Marine Corps two years later. He returned to Harvard in 1957 after being discharged as a first lieutenant.

Then, after his first stint at RAND and his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard, Ellsberg went to work at the Pentagon in 1964 under then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

For two years, Ellsberg was stationed in Vietnam working for the State Department, and when he returned to RAND in 1967, he began contributing to a top-secret history of the war commissioned by McNamara.

Completed in 1968 and named The Pentagon Papers.

By then, Ellsberg was already disillusioned with the war he had once supported.

Ellsberg was dubbed “The Most Dangerous Man in America” after his role in the release of The Pentagon Papers was revealed.

In the years that followed, Ellsberg continued to oppose America’s wars in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and defended other whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. And while he condemned Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, he also warned that it could lead to total war with Russia.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made the world much more dangerous, not only in the short term, but in ways that may be irreversible,” Ellsberg said June 2022 interview. “This is a tragic and criminal attack. We see humanity at almost its worst, but not quite its worst – we haven’t seen a nuclear war since 1945.”

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