American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

The Pentagon Papers | The Trial | 4

The Pentagon Papers | The Trial | 4

Tue, 28 Dec 2021 08:01

President Nixon sets in motion a secret campaign to destroy Daniel Ellsberg. With his trial underway, Ellsberg faces a moment of reckoning.

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To listen to American scandal one week early and add free, join Wondry Plus in the Wondri app. Download the Wondri app in your Apple or Google Play mobile app store today. It's June 28, 1971 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the entryway of a suburban home, morning sunlight shines in through a small window. The pale light lands on Daniel Ellsberg as he waits for his wife, savoring the moment. Today may be Ellsberg's last morning as a free man. A few days ago, his attorney told him that the FBI had issued a warrant for his arrest and advised him to turn himself in. But Ellsberg wasn't ready to face the FBI. Now he is. Ellsberg just distributed his two final copies of the Pentagon papers, a top secret history of America's involvement in Vietnam. The study has now reached dozens of publications. Millions of Americans have learned the appalling truths about the war and the lies told by America's leaders in government. So at this point Ellsberg's work is complete. There's no use trying to evade the FBI any longer. It's time to turn himself in. A car pulls into the driveway and Ellsberg takes his wife's hand. Together, the two step out of the safehouse where they've been staying an approaching idling taxi. Ellsberg and his wife, Patricia Margs, take a seat in the back of the cab. In the front passenger seat, Ellsberg's attorney Charles Messin sits waiting. Morning, Dan. Hi, Patricia. You both ready for this? Morning, Charlie. I'm as ready as I'm going to be. Yeah. Good, because we've got a long morning ahead. We're going to go to the courthouse and when we get there, you'll head to the US Attorney's Office and present yourself for a rest. I still get a chance to read my prepared statement though, right? I mean, in a case they're reporters. I want them to see that I'm not some criminal or a traitor. This is an act of patriotism. Just Dan, the taxi driver makes an unexpected turn off the main road. Ellsberg wonders if he should be worried. Excuse me, sir. This isn't how you get on to the freeway. Dan, we're not taking the freeway. What are you talking about, Charles? Where are we going? We're going to the courthouse, but we're going to take a more circuitous route. Why? I won't say too much, Dan. I know you've got a lot on your mind, but you should know that the FBI, they're not happy with you. You've been on the run for weeks and they're embarrassed. They haven't caught you. I have reason to believe that they might try to intercept us today. And that way they can say they brought you in themselves. Oh my God. I'm always trying to protect their own reputation. That's true. And I do hope that when we get to the courthouse you can make your statement, but I wouldn't count on it. The driver makes several turns as he speeds through downtown Boston. Soon the weathered facade of the federal courthouse comes into view. But as they approach the building, Ellsberg notices something that takes his breath away. There's an enormous crowd surrounding the entrance. Scores of reporters carry cameras and microphones. Police officers jostle with a large group of antiwar demonstrators. And the protesters are carrying signs of support for Ellsberg. The taxi comes to a stop. And when Ellsberg steps out, a wave of shouts and cheers erupt from the crowd. Ellsberg begins making his way to the courthouse steps. And when he reaches the top, he notices several FBI agents standing nearby. Their expressions are grim. But Ellsberg won't be intimidated. He stops, turns, and looks out over the crowd. Everyone gathered there grows silent. Then Ellsberg begins. He admits to the crowd that he's the one who leaked the Pentagon papers. He says it was an act of hope and trust. Hope that the truth will free the country from the Vietnam War. Trust that informed Americans will direct their public servants to stop lying and to stop the killing and dying by Americans in Vietnam. Ellsberg tells the crowd that he's come to the courthouse to take ownership of his actions as a responsible citizen of the United States. The crowd cheers. And as Ellsberg turns back and walks into the courthouse, he holds his head up high, feeling more prepared than ever to fight the government's charges and see the war in Vietnam finally come to an end. American scandals sponsored by Sachi Art. I'm lucky. Not only is my wife beautiful, funny, and smart, she also has great taste that matches mine, which has made decorating our home together a delight. But how do we go about finding the art for our home? Well, we agree on that, too. Sachi Art. They have art works from thousands of emerging artists around the globe in all styles, so you're guaranteed to find art that fits your style, space, and budget. Their view your room feature lets you visualize the art on your walls, and my advisor, Siting, was instrumental in finding our newest piece. Get 15% off your first order with promo code podcast. Just go to and enter code podcast at checkout. Find art you love today. Okay, the kids are already asking what's for dinner, but breaking news, empty fridge. That's okay. I'll instant cart. Let's add some organic asparagus and some farm fresh chicken. Easy. Wait, is the oldest vegetarian this week or was it gluten free? Gluten free pasta. Covered either way, cart it, and finally some vegetarian gluten free olives from my well earned cocktail. When your family shopping list has more footnotes than groceries, the world is your cart. Visit or download the app and get free delivery on your first order. Offer valid for a limited time, minimum order $10. Delivery subject to availability, additional terms apply. From wandering, I'm Lindsey Graham and this is American Scan. The leak of the Pentagon papers was a watershed moment for the Vietnam War. Commissioned by the Secretary of Defense, this top secret study revealed how White House officials, military leaders, and even American presidents had lied to the public about the war. Government leaders had covered up everything from atrocities committed on the battlefield to the number of American soldiers who would be deployed. The publication of the Pentagon papers set off an intense public debate. Americans increasingly questioned the legitimacy of the war, many grew disillusioned with their elected leaders in government. The debate grew even more heated when President Richard Nixon's administration filed a controversial lawsuit which aimed to stop newspapers from publishing the leak study, and which raised concerns about freedom of the press. As public opinion shifted, Daniel Ellsberg faced the fight of his life. His leak of the Pentagon papers was a federal crime, and as Ellsberg went to trial, he confronted the likelihood of spending the rest of his life in prison. It was a frightening possibility, especially with the powerful enemies that Ellsberg had made. President Nixon sought to punish the former military analyst for the leak, aiming to make an example of Ellsberg and prevent any future leaks. What the president's pursuit would lead to a series of unintended consequences and change the course of American politics. This is Episode 4, The Trial. It's June 30, 1971 in Washington, DC, and Katherine Graham is staring at the clock. It's 2.20 in the afternoon, and in just a few minutes, Graham and the rest of the staff of the Washington Post are scheduled to receive news that could potentially devastate the paper. Graham is the publisher of the post, and she recently gave her newsroom the go ahead to report on the Pentagon papers. Her order was in direct defiance of President Nixon, who argued that the Washington Post is threatening national security by publishing the study, and his administration ordered the post and the New York Times to cease any further publication of the top secret report. But Graham and her colleagues disagree with the president, and haven't obeyed his orders. Instead, they took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court, and in 10 minutes, that court is going to issue a ruling on the matter. If the justice is side with the post, it'll be an enormous win for the freedom of the press. But if the court side with Nixon, the fallout could financially ruin Graham's newspaper. Graham runs a hand over her pearl earrings and glances to her side. Seated nearby are Ben Bradley, the post's executive editor, and Ben Bagdickein, the assistant managing editor. Bradley looks tense as he fiddles with the leather strap of his watch, and Bagdickein's white hair is even more disheveled than usual. Graham has never seen the journalist so consumed with stress, and while they spent most of the morning here with Graham discussing the case, at this point there's nothing left to say. All they can do is wait for the ruling. Graham checks the clock again, and then rises from her chair. She announces that the three of them shouldn't be sitting here sequestered in an office. They should be with their employees when the ruling is announced. Her two deputies agree, and together they exit the office, and head to the newsroom, where they find the space hacked and tense. Dozens of reporters and secretaries are huddled around their desks. Many of them puffing nervously on cigarettes, the smoke curling up toward bright fluorescent lights. Near the center of the crowd is Mary Lou Beatty, the post's deputy national editor, sitting with her phone against her ear. Graham knows that Beatty is on an open line with officers at the Supreme Court, an announcement about the ruling should be coming any second now. Graham watches intently. Her eyes flickering from Beatty to the clock, then back to Beatty. When suddenly she sits up, her eyes animate it, and begin speaking into the phone. Everyone in the newsroom goes quiet. Beatty nods and sits down the receiver. For a moment, the newsroom is completely still. Then Beatty grins. With her voice booming, she announces that the Washington Post has won, the Supreme Court ruled in their favor. They can keep publishing the Pentagon papers without any interference from the government. The newsroom breaks into a frenzy to pause, and Graham feels a deep relief. Her paper is safe, and can continue publishing. Graham shakes hands with her two deputies, and turns to get a good look at her staff. Everyone continues to cheer and celebrate, and like them, Graham feels jubilant. She believes the Supreme Court made the right decision. But Graham also knows she needs to temper her excitement. She doesn't want to get too carried away, because she can't imagine that President Nixon will respond well to his defeat in court, or that he and his aides are done fighting. It's late evening in the summer of 1971. G. Gordon Liddy steps into the Oval Office of the White House. The room is full of men like him, political operatives, and suits and ties. Sitting slumped behind his desk is President Nixon, with dark bags under his eyes. As Liddy steps forward, he feels a deep pain, seeing how recent events have affected the President. The Washington Post, the New York Times, and other newspapers defied the President's orders. They continued to publish material from the Pentagon papers, and despite the implications for national security, the justices of the Supreme Court gave their blessing to the media. The court's decision clearly has taken a toll on Nixon. It's also painful for Liddy. A former FBI agent, Liddy, has worked for Nixon for several years as an operative. Like the President, he values a conservative approach to governance. And Liddy and Nixon share another belief, which is that the country must be rescued from the moral and social decline being orchestrated by the nation's liberals. That's why tonight's meeting is taking place. Nixon wants to strike back, and Liddy and the other operatives have come to help out. Nixon sits up, and smacks his desk with his palm, calling the meeting to order. He tells the group that the media has gone too far. The press is championing the so called whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and every day they're publishing excerpts from the Pentagon's stolen secret study. It's helping drum up antiwar sentiment and eroding the people's trust in governments and cannot continue. Liddy takes a step forward and says he agrees. He asks Nixon how he wants to handle the situation. Nixon shakes his head. The President says he spent the entire day trying to figure it out, and he still doesn't have any answers. All he knows is that right now Ellsberg is out on bail, a free man. He should be locked up, spending the rest of his life in prison. Nixon also wants to make sure that there are no more government leaks. He doesn't care how these two goals are met. They just need to get done. Liddy frowns. Nixon is speaking vaguely about strategy. It's hard to parse the instructions, but then he realizes something. If Nixon gave specific orders, it could place him at legal risk sometime in the future. It's actually wise to remain vague. And Liddy knows how to take a hint. It's time for him to take the initiative. So Liddy locks eyes with the President and says that Nixon doesn't need to say anything else. Liddy will find a way to prevent any more leaks and make sure that Ellsberg is punished. Nixon doesn't have to worry. Liddy and the other operatives will formulate an executed plan. Liddy waits for Nixon's response. He hopes he interpreted the President's language correctly. And while it's not entirely explicit, Liddy gets enough of a confirmation. Nixon nods and thanks him. Soon Liddy and the operatives file out of the Oval Office and prepare for the work ahead. Finding a way to punish the man who leaked the Pentagon papers. It's late at night in August of 1971. G Gordon Liddy enters a dark office across the street from the White House. The basement office may not be pretty and the air is damp and warm. Still the space does suit his purpose. Liddy needs to conduct a meeting in secret, one where he and his fellow operatives won't be seen. There are three men seated at the scuff table in the middle of the office. One is a member of a national security staff, another is the deputy assistant to the President. A third man, E Howard Hunt, is a former CIA agent. And then there's Liddy himself, a former FBI agent. Liddy has spent the last several days making plans with Hunt, designing an operation. Now it's time to share these plans with his accomplices. Hunt, the former agent for the CIA, swings a leather briefcase onto the table and unlatches it. He pulls out a photo of a man with curly brown hair and places it on the table. Liddy gestures to the photo as he surveys the group. All right, fellas, we're about to execute an important operation. I don't need to tell you that it's top secret. And if we do it right, it'll be a big win for the President. So go ahead, take a good look at our target, Daniel Ellsberg. The deputy assistant to the President shifts in his seat. Now the Pentagon paper's guy, why? What's the idea? We're going to take him out or something? No, nothing like that, not yet anyway. We have something else in mind. How could you take out the other photo? Okay, this is Dr. Lewis Fielding. Fielding is Ellsberg's psychoanalyst. High price shrink and Beverly Hills. He's our second target. The deputy assistant leans forward again with a look at confusion. Gordon, I don't get it. Why go after a shrink? Use your head. What do people do in therapy? They talk. Yeah, exactly. They talk. Revealing a lot about themselves, which is the crux of this plan. We're going to break into Fielding's office, we're going to go through his cabinets and get the file he keeps on Ellsberg. Then we'll search the file for anything embarrassing. If we find something compromising, we'll make sure it's publicized. With the right information, we can destroy Ellsberg's reputation and write on time for his trial. Leak enough embarrassing stuff and there's no way a jury lets him off the hook. Oh, Gordon, I don't know. This dirty. Oh, yeah? What about what Ellsberg did? This guy steals and leaks classified military documents. Get them published in every newspaper in America and you think that guy deserves privacy protection? The deputy assistant shrugs. He still looks uncertain about the plan. Look, you have to ask yourself a very important question here. Does America belong to communist sympathizers, guys like Daniel Ellsberg, or is this a country for people who stand out from the law? People like the president. Now, I'm with Nixon. But what about you? The room is quiet for a moment, as the man look at the photos of Ellsberg and his analysts. Then all the men nod in agreement. The mission is on. They'll break into the office, they'll find embarrassing information about Daniel Ellsberg, and then they'll leak everything to the public, making sure that Ellsberg will never again see the light of day. Lots of people don't know it, but autumn is an ideal time to plant. Shorter days and cooler nights create ideal conditions for the plants to get established. If you're looking to spruce up your home, proven winners color choice shrubs has an amazing selection of flowering shrubs and evergreens for planting and gardens and landscapes. 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But in a surprise twist, the trial was put on hold after the court learned that the US Department of Justice had illegally spied on one of Ellsberg's lawyers. Now with a trial paused and Ellsberg out on bail, he was left with some unexpected free time, but he didn't intend to squander it. So tonight Ellsberg is holding a press conference in which he plans to argue against President Nixon's reelection. Ellsberg chose this venue for a reason. Just a few blocks away, the Republican national convention is taking place. Nixon is about to be nominated to run for a second term as president, but just as he's done in other locations across the country, Ellsberg wants to warn the audience why a second term for Nixon would be a serious mistake. Ellsberg looks out at the crowd in the auditorium and clears his throat. Then he begins laying out his arguments against Nixon and the Vietnam War. His voice booming, Ellsberg warns that Nixon is stepping up American bombing campaigns. He's escalating the war with the North Vietnamese and making a bad war worse. Ellsberg continues to deliver searing remarks about the scope of the war and the failures of Nixon's administration. But when he pauses, he notices something strange. The audience doesn't seem affected by the speech. They almost look bored. Ellsberg is hit with a familiar sinking feeling. His leak of the Pentagon papers did cause a stir. Newspapers and broadcasters gave it plenty of coverage. But despite everything, it seems like Americans aren't moved to act, to change. Nixon appears on track to win re election. Still Ellsberg knows that if this war is ever going to come to an end, Nixon has to be beaten. And Ellsberg has to somehow convince America to vote against him. Ellsberg finishes delivering his prepared remarks and then looks out at the audience. OK, I'd be happy to take any questions now. One middle aged man in a dark blazer raises his hand. Ellsberg feels a bit of optimism. The man is dressed like an intellectual. Maybe he'll help raise an important point, sway some minds. Yes, you sir, please. The man walks down the aisle and approaches a microphone on a stand. Good evening, Mr. Ellsberg. I wanted to start by asking you about the Pentagon papers. Do you think you accomplished anything by leaking them? Well, sir, I'll start by giving you an honest answer. As of now, I'm not sure I've accomplished anything. The war is still going on with no end in sight. But President Nixon has assured us that the war is winding down. He says that we're very close to securing peace in Vietnam. Yeah, those, those may be his words, but as I explained, even though Nixon says he's working to wind down the war behind the scenes, he's doing the opposite. I have every reason to believe he's doing the same thing as the last few presidents before him. How can you be so sure the Pentagon papers end with the Johnson administration, not Nixon? Yes, but the point is the paper's document, a larger pattern of presidential line. Nixon, I'm sure of it, is just following that playbook. So you just don't trust the president of the United States. Not when it comes to Vietnam, no. Man shakes his head and points at Ellsberg. Mr. Ellsberg, you should be ashamed of yourself. You're no patriot. You're not helping this country. I hope they send you away from life. As the man turns and storms to the exit, Ellsberg tries to maintain a brave face. This isn't the first time he's faced criticism for his choices. He knows that among some circles, he's deeply unpopular. But that's not why Ellsberg suddenly feels so upset. It's not about this one person. It's the possibility that this man represents the average American. And if that's the case, Nixon's reelection is guaranteed. The war will continue, and all of Ellsberg sacrifices will have been for nothing. It's April 10, 1973 in a courtroom in Los Angeles. Daniel Ellsberg rises from his seat at the defense table. He smooths out his gray suit jacket and then begins making his way to the front of the courtroom, where the hundreds of spectators scrutinizing his every move. Ellsberg approaches the witness stand and exhales. This is the moment he's been waiting for. The one moment that could define his legacy and make or break his case. After the short delay, Ellsberg's federal trial is now underway. He's facing charges of espionage, conspiracy, and theft of government property. They're all felony offenses. But Ellsberg hasn't denied conspiring to steal the Pentagon study. And so throughout the trial, there hasn't been much for the lawyers to argue about. Instead, the courtroom has been a parade of government and legal experts taking the stand, debating whether Ellsberg betrayed his nation or whether he's a hero who should go free. But so far, none of the courtroom experts have explained why Ellsberg chose to steal and leak the Pentagon study. Only Ellsberg knows that. And after months of waiting, he's eager to finally explain his actions in front of the court. Ellsberg takes a seat in the witness stand and turns to the jury box. Seated there are 10 women and two men with unreadable expressions on their faces. Then one of Ellsberg's lawyers approaches and begins his questioning. Lender Boudin asks Ellsberg to describe the events that brought him to this point. Answering, Ellsberg tells the court how at age 23 he joined the Marines and became a platoon leader. After that, he took a job at the Rand Corporation as an analyst and helped the military craft its policy around Vietnam. Ellsberg goes on that it was during this period that he went to Vietnam himself and saw the war up close. Ellsberg starts describing his observations about Vietnam when suddenly he's interrupted. Judge William Matthew Bern Jr. is seated to the right of Ellsberg and his brows are furrowed in frustration. He orders Ellsberg to speak up. Ellsberg is startled out of his memories. He wasn't aware that he was speaking too quietly. So he sits up and begins speaking louder, more forcefully. He tells the court that in Vietnam he began to see the war for what it really was, brutal, destructive, and pointless. It could never be justified as a fight against communism. And that's why Ellsberg stole and leaked the Pentagon papers. His goal was to end the Vietnam War, to expose the government's lies, to put an end to senseless deaths of Americans and Vietnamese alike. Ellsberg stops his breath labored. He could go on telling the jury about all the horrors he witnessed in Vietnam. The homes and villages eaten up by fire, the destruction, the bodies, and so many of them. But Ellsberg is exhausted. He said everything he needs to say. He explained by his choices were moral and principled. But he doesn't feel optimistic, not in this moment. Ellsberg has been fighting and fighting and fighting. But nothing seems to change. Nixon won reelection in a landslide. The president has dramatically increased the bombing of the North Vietnamese, and it doesn't seem like anyone can do anything about it. Ellsberg gets up from the witness stand and returns to a seat, running a hand through his curly brown hair. Somehow he has to stay strong. Even if it seems like he's about to lose his battle in court, and the larger struggle, to end the Vietnam War. Two and a half weeks later, Daniel Ellsberg sits in a court room in Los Angeles, convinced that something has gone terribly wrong. By now, the morning's legal proceeding should have been well underway. But something's happening at the front of the court. The judge appears to be discussing something urgent with lawyers from both sides. Ellsberg wipes a beat of sweat from his forehead, and glances at his fellow defendant in former collie, Tony Russo. Russo helped Ellsberg copy the Pentagon papers, and so he's also on trial. Ellsberg leans over and asks Russo if he knows what's going on. Russo just shrugs. He has no idea. Ellsberg turns his attention back to the bench, where the judge continues talking with attorneys. Then the judge points directly at Ellsberg and Russo, and gestures for them to approach. When they arrive at the bench, Ellsberg steals a glance at his lawyers. They seem like they've just received shocking news. Ellsberg's mind begins to consider some improbable scenarios. Maybe the government has additional charges. Maybe the trial is over, and he's going right to prison. Ellsberg's anxiety almost overtakes him, when finally the judge speaks up. He announces that there's been an unexpected development. The judge just received a memo from the Justice Department. Apparently, government officials learned that the office of Daniel Ellsberg's former psychoanalyst was burglarized, and the criminals were G Gordon Liddy and Howard Hunt. All at once Ellsberg feels like he's teetering. Just like every American, he's heard the names Liddy and Hunt. These two men were involved in a mysterious crime last summer, when there was a break in at the Watergate Complex in Washington. But this is truly bizarre. Why would these same two men connected with Watergate want to steal from his analyst? Ellsberg sputters out questions, asking when, how, and why? The judge is impatient, and tells Ellsberg that those questions don't matter right now. What does is that Ellsberg has a choice to make. The information dug up by the Justice Department can be made public, or it can be kept secret. Ellsberg gets to decide, because the department's memo contains information about his personal life, information he may wish to keep private. Ellsberg almost laughs out loud. Privacy is the last thing on his mind, and if this is made public, everyone will learn that political operatives were somehow trying to smear him. There's no way you won't help him. So Ellsberg tells the judge to inform the entire court about the memo, and do so right away. The judge responds with a curt nod, and tells everyone to return to their seats. As Ellsberg glances at the prosecutors, he can tell that they are unhappy. It's a good sign. Soon the judge demands the court's attention, and begins reading the memo out loud. As he does, Ellsberg spots his wife, Patricia Mark sitting in the crown. The two exchange grins, looking astonished. For the first time in months, Ellsberg's legal situation is actually looking good. Soon the judge finishes reading the memo, and there's a sudden commotion in the gallery. One by one, every reporter in the room jumps up and begins racing towards the exit. Ellsberg isn't a journalist, but he can gas exactly what's going on. These reporters are probably all headed to the nearest payphones, calling to tell the redditors about this incredible turn of events. Watergate and the Pentagon papers, two of the biggest stories in recent years, have suddenly collided. The new season of this is actually happening, is available ad free only with Wondry Plus, and if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's May 11th, 1973, in a courtroom in Los Angeles. Next to the defense table, Daniel Ellsberg paces nervously. He glances at his lawyer Charles Nesson, who's remaining seated and taking notes. Ellsberg can't believe how quickly everything is developing. 20 minutes ago, Ellsberg's lawyer addressed Judge Byrne and asked him to declare a mistrial. He said it was time to drop the charges against Ellsberg and Tony Russo, considering everything that's now come to light. First, the Department of Justice found out that the office of Ellsberg's psychoanalysts had been burglarized. After that, the acting director of the FBI admitted that the bureau had illegally tapped Ellsberg's phone. The admissions were stunning, revealing proof of government misconduct, and so Ellsberg's attorney has asked the judge to make the right decision, end the case, and declare it a mistrial. After Ellsberg's attorney issued the request, the judge called a recess. He said he needed time to consider the issue, but any minute now, he should be returning with an answer. Ellsberg stops pacing and takes a seat next to Nesson, his attorney. Okay, Charlie, what are you thinking? How's he going to rule? We'll see you, Dan. I don't know, of course, but it's looking better and better. Oh, maybe, but it seems like the judge wants me to go to prison no matter what. Like, his mind's already made up. Dan, you have to have some faith, especially considering all the recent news. Yeah, but I can't stop coming back to the judge. You read the papers. He met with Nixon during my trial. President offered him a job as head of the FBI. How is this same man supposed to be impartial? I know, Dan, it's outrageous. And of course, Burns said he didn't discuss your case during that meeting with Nixon. And he claims he won't consider the job until after your trial's over, but I'm with you. It's pretty clear influence peddling. And that's why I'm publicly asking Burns to end this circus. It's obviously mistrial. Well, let's just hope he has a shred of conscience. L.S. Bergen, his attorney, sit waiting. In a few minutes later, Judge Burns reenters the courtroom and takes a seat at the bench. L.S. Bergen tries to stay calm, but the consequences of this moment are too great. His freedom is in the hands of a single man. A man he deeply suspects wants to see him in prison. Looking out at the court, the judge says he's come to a decision. He was asked to declare a mistrial, and he's considered the request. But after thinking it through, he won't grant the motion. L.S. Bergen sings into his chair, his head dizzy and his mouth dry. He can't believe it. This might have been his only chance. The trial is sure to go on for several more agonizing weeks, and then it'll end with his conviction and a long prison sentence. But then the judge clears his throat, and L.S. Bergen looks up again, gazing out at the jury and the prosecutors, and then directly at L.S. Bergen. The judge says he can't declare a mistrial because it would be unfair to the defendant's L.S. Bergen Russo. L.S. Bergen stares at the judge confused, but Bergen continues, explaining that a mistrial would mean that L.S. Bergen could be tried again at a later date. And that's something he won't let happen. The judge says it's clear the government violated L.S. Bergen's legal rights. The case against L.S. Bergen's tainted and it always will be. Therefore, the judge rules that all charges against L.S. Bergen and Tony Russo are dropped. The case is not a mistrial, it's dismissed, and the two defendants can never again be tried in connection with the Pentagon papers. The muted laugh escapes from L.S. Bergen as he stares an awl, and then his supporters and the crowds start cheering and clapping. L.S. Bergen almost can't move, but then his body suddenly springs to life. L.S. Bergen jumps up and races over to his wife, wrapping his arms around her. He holds her in a tight embrace, one filled with relief, exhaustion, and joy. When he pulls away, he sees that she's laughing and crying at the same time, just like he is. L.S. Bergen looks over at his friend and co defendant, Tony Russo. Russo is wrapped up in the arms of his own family members. They are also laughing and crying tears of relief. And when Russo notices L.S. Bergen looking at him, he rushes over. L.S. Bergen reaches out his hand, but Russo just laughs and pulls L.S. Bergen for a hug. The two embrace each other, as free men, who are once on the verge of a lifetime in prison. A bitter fate for two people who stood out for what they believed was right. L.S. Bergen soon, Russo and their family members walk out into the blinding Southern California sunshine. L.S. Bergen stops to breathe in the fresh air. And almost immediately, journalists and supporters begin descending from every direction. One man holding an antiwar sign yells out that he has good news. The man who indicted L.S. Bergen, John Mitchell, is in deep trouble. The attorney general under Nixon has just been indicted himself. L.S. Bergen feels like he's floating. The Nixon administration is starting to implode under pressure from the Watergate scandal. It's a cherry on top of his own legal victory, a sign that America may be charting a new course. And yet, even in this sweet moment, L.S. Bergen already feels compelled to refocus his attention, to put any good news behind him. He can't rest, and he won't feel satisfied until the Vietnam War has finally come to an end. It's April 30th, 2021, 48 years later. In his home in Berkeley, California, Daniel L.S. Bergen swivels his chair towards a desktop PC. He logs in to his email and scrolls through his inbox. He stops when he finds a link to this morning's video conference. L.S. Bergen slides his headphones over his ears and pauses to catch his breath. He turned 90 this month. And these days, he gets tired easily. But L.S. Bergen is never too exhausted to talk about important issues. L.S. Bergen is taking part in a virtual conference, marking the 50th anniversary of the leak of the Pentagon papers. He was invited to give the keynote address, and even though it's been 50 years, L.S. Bergen still has a lot to say about the grave problems of modern life. He wants to push his audience to face those challenges head on before it's too late. L.S. Bergen clicks the conference link and connects live with two moderators. After greeting them, he sees that a large number of attendees are waiting to hear him speak. L.S. Bergen begins delivering his remarks. It's hard at first. He's had Bell's policy, which makes it hard for him to move his lips when he speaks. Still, he manages to speak forcefully, to termin to make himself heard. In his keynote, L.S. Bergen talks about the Vietnam war, which ended two years after he was acquitted. He reviews the failings of Richard Nixon, who resigned and disgraced the year before that. And L.S. Bergen touches on a range of issues that he considers urgent, the war in Afghanistan, climate change, the problems with policing in America, racial injustice. And L.S. Bergen reminds his audience that the risks he took then are worth taking today. I choose to act as if it's possible that we can come to a concern, a sufficient concern for humanity at large and of our own responsibility as Chelsea Manning and Snowden faced and I faced the perception, this truth is necessary to come out. And others are not going to do it. That was the truth. Therefore, I must do it. When he's finished speaking, L.S. Bergen signs out of the virtual conference and shut Stanis computer. He turns to his left and smiles. His wife Patricia is seated just a few feet away. She tells L.S. Bergen that she's amazed. Even after 50 years of marriage, he still impresses her with his thoughtfulness, his commitment to doing the right thing. L.S. Bergen takes his wife's hand. He's fatigued, but it's true. As long as he's alive, he'll still have the strength to fight for a better world. Almost four years after leaking the Pentagon papers, Daniel L.S. Bergen finally won the battle he was fighting. In 1975, President Gerald Ford finished withdrawing U.S. troops from Vietnam and put an end to the long conflict. The chaotic end of the Vietnam War prompted heated debate across the country. Americans asked fundamental questions about their nation's foreign policy. Why had the U.S. military fought for so many years in such a distant country? What did America's leaders hope to accomplish? And why, with so much time to plan, did the war end in such disarray? Many would ask these same questions 50 years later, as America began a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. A war that, like Vietnam, ended with Americans getting emergency airlifts out of a foreign country. Today, Daniel L.S. Bergen and his wife Patricia remain committed to antiwar activism. In a 2021 interview commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon papers leak, L.S. Bergen was asked if he had any regrets about his decision. He responded, I've never regretted for a moment doing it from then till now. My one regret, a growing regret really, is that I didn't release those documents much earlier. From Wondery, this is episode 4 of The Pentagon Papers from American Scam. In our next series, we're airing an encore presentation of our story about the Harry Christian Emergers. In the 1960s, America was in tumult, with a war raging abroad and social upheaval at home, but a spiritual leader arrived with a joyful message, offering a path to eternal happiness. But rivalries broke out between his followers and the group took a dark turn. If you like our show, please give us a five star rating and leave a review and be sure to tell your friends. I also have two other podcasts you might like, American History Tellers and Business Movers. Follow on Apple podcasts, Amazon Music, or wherever you're listening right now, or you can listen to new episodes early and ad free by subscribing to Wondery Plus in Apple Podcasts or in the Wondery app. You'll also find some links and offers from our sponsors in the episode notes. Supporting them helps us keep offering our shows for free. Another way you can support the show is by filling out a small survey at slash survey to tell us what topics we might come next. You can also find us and me on Twitter. Follow me at Lindsay A. Graham, Lindsay with an A, Middle and Initially, and thank you. If you'd like to learn more about The Pentagon Papers, we recommend the book Secrets, a memoir of Vietnam and The Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, and Personal History by Catherine Graham. A quick note about our reenactments. In most cases, we can't know exactly what we've said, but all our dominizations are based on historical research. American scandalous hosted, edited and executed produced by me, Lindsay Graham, for Aresha. All you editing by Molly Bach, Sound Design by Derek Barrett, Music by Lindsay Graham. This episode is written by Hannibal Diaz, edited by Christina Malzberg. Our senior producer is Gabe Ribbon, Executive producers, our Stephanie Gens, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and Marsha Lou for Wondery. Hi grownups. Bedtime isn't always easy, and winding down after a busy day can feel almost impossible. But we're here to help. Introducing Story's podcast Sleep Series. All of your favorite stories, from classic fairy tales to modern myths, all read in a calm and soothing voice over dreamy soundscapes and gentle lullabies. Snuggle in and turn down the lights, and let us read the bedtime story so you can relax and unwind with your kids, with stories podcast sleep series. Listen exclusively on Wondery Plus Kids and Apple Podcasts, or on Wondery Plus in the Wondery app. Stories podcast sleep series. Sucthing stories to help you sleep. Available exclusively on Wondery Plus Kids and Apple Podcasts, or on Wondery Plus in the Wondery app. Sweet dreams.