The Pentagon Papers Explained

DoD employees and consultants such as RAND Corporation comprised the team which wrote the Pentagon Papers. Wikimedia

2. Who was assigned to make the study which became known as the Pentagon Papers?

Though the Department of Defense employs historianed, both civilian and military, who created the official records of the United States military (available online for all branches) McNamara went outside of official channels to create his study. He approached his long-time aide and friend John McNaughton to it. McNaughton was at the time the Assistant Secretary of Defense, and one of the authors of the strategy of bombing in Vietnam known as Operation Rolling Thunder. McNaughton’s untimely death in a plane crash led to the work being led by Leslie Gelb, a former assistant to Senator Jacob Javits, and a senior official in international affairs at the Pentagon.

Three dozen analysts worked directly on the project, supported by their individual staffs. About half the analysts were active duty military, the rest were civilian employees, university consultants, and employees of the civil service. They worked under tight security, driven by a mandate that no other organization within or outside of the federal government be aware of the project prior to its completion. Meanwhile, Johnson lost confidence in McNamara and he resigned in February, 1968. He was replaced by Clark Clifford, a long-time friend of the president. The war continued, and the divisive year of 1968 wound down with Richard Nixon winning the presidency in a close vote.