Dr. Daniel Ellsberg is an American activist and former United States military analyst who, while employed by the RAND Corporation, precipitated a national political controversy in 1971 when he released the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study of U.S. government decision-making in relation to the Vietnam War, to The New York Times and other newspapers. Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 along with other charges of theft and conspiracy, carrying a total maximum sentence of 115 years. Due to governmental misconduct and illegal evidence gathering, Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. dismissed all charges against Ellsberg on May 11, 1973. He is known for having formulated an important example in decision theory, the Ellsberg paradox. In December 2017, Ellsberg published TheDoomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner, a book with his personal recollections and historical analysis of a second cache of secret documents related to the U.S. nuclear arsenal; notably the documents revealed that President Eisenhower empowered a few top military officers to be able to use nuclear weapons without presidential authorization in case there was incapacitation or no way to contact the president. Ellsberg believes that similar procedures remain in place — a sharp contrast to what the American public is told about how the “nuclear football” works.
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