Pentagon Papers: Whistleblower Ellsberg Reveals Terminal Cancer Diagnosis

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The Facts

  • Daniel Ellsberg — the whistleblower who famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, a series of documents that revealed US government falsehoods during the Vietnam War — announced Thursday he's been diagnosed with terminal cancer and has only several months to live.

  • In a letter circulated on social media, the 91-year-old said he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and that doctors said he had three to six months to live. He also revealed he will not undergo chemotherapy and plans to accept hospice care when needed.

The Spin

Narrative A

Ellsberg should be remembered for his brave actions that inspired a generation of whistleblowers and activists. He has been a beacon of integrity and truth and has used his kindness to fight for a better world. This is devastating news and he will be sorely missed.

Narrative B

Although he's celebrated as a hero, Ellsberg’s legacy should be far more mixed. Both Congress and the executive branch have rigorous whistleblowing mechanisms for disclosing wrongdoing and important information, but he stepped outside those options to leak highly sensitive documents to the press. He violated the law and his oath to secrecy.

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