How Pentagon Papers were obtained by New York Times reporter. It involved cash and secret trips to Xerox shop

A.M. Rosenthal congratulating reporters after publication of the Pentagon Papers in June 1971. Neil Sheehan was second from right. Photo by Renato Perez/The New York Times

The Pentagon Papers are thousands of classified government documents proving the Johnson administration expanded military action in Vietnam and Southeast Asia, lied to Congress and the public about it, and even doubted whether or not the war could be won.

Daniel Ellsberg, the RAND Corporation analyst who leaked the documents, became a household name. New York Times journalist Neil Sheehan won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking the story. He died last Thursday at age 84.

Until now, he never told the story of how he obtained the Pentagon Papers. It completely upends the narrative Americans thought they knew, with details straight out of a Cold War spy thriller.

Janny Scott interviewed Neil Sheehan before he died and wrote about this for the New York Times.

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