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The Pentagon Papers (Beacon Press)

The Pentagon Papers (Beacon Press)

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Published by: yanac on Sep 08, 2008
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free press, Assistant U.S. Attorney Warren Reese wrote, “Public interest

in investigations to identify and prosecute those responsible for crimi-

nal offenses overrides any protection afforded by the First Amend-

ment.”110

Recognizing the embattled banner of a free press, newspapers

raced to cover the story. The face of opposition became that of Senator

Gravel, whose visage appeared on the jackets of the original four

volumes of The Pentagon Papers.In defense of the publishing house

that had taken on his risky proposal, Gravel held a press conference

in Beacon offices. The senator denounced the FBI’s secret search as a

“fishing expedition” before leveling accusations at the Justice Depart-

ment: “They ... are holding themselves outside the law, and I regard

them as outlaws.”111

Gravel’s colleague in the U.S. Senate, James L. Buckley, apprehensive

of government wrongdoing, wrote to the director of the FBI. In terse

and guarded language, J. Edgar Hoover replied, “It is considered that

the actions of this Bureau ... have been entirely proper and were per-

formed in response to a specific request by attorneys of the Department

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of Justice.” Gravel, who obviously disagreed with Hoover’s justifica-

tion, “filed a petition ... in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston

asking that three FBI agents be held in contempt.” While the petition

was ultimately meaningless, Gravel later bragged, “It scared the hell

out of them.”112

From the onset of the government’s case against Bea-

con, neither side seemed likely to back down.

A startling setback came on January 7, 1972: the three-judge Federal

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