By Jose Miguel Albert; Raquel Gómez-Mascaraque; Cristian González; Rocío Mascaró; María Mateos; Jose Luis Sánchez; Carmen Silva and María Vázquez

The confrontation between socialism and capitalism that had place during the Cold War lead to the most important conflict occurred in Vietnam. This country was divided into North Vietnam supported by the Soviet Union and China and South Vietnam supported by the United States and allies. This produced an uncontrolled battle between these countries.

In the 70’s in the Pentagon, the war analyst, Daniel Ellsberg, wanted to reveal the lies that North American leaders, during five legislatures, hid to the nation. The prolongation of the war even knowing the inability to win, done to maintain the public opinion, inspired Daniel Ellsberg to show all the documents that corroborate this lies. These documents named as “The Pentagon Papers” were published by The New York Times and afterwards by all media. These facts created a big confrontation between government and the free press rising this one as the fourth power.

To see an interactive timeline showing The Pentagon Paper’s Chronology click here


Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

United States/ Richard Nixon


In political-military involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967.

Richard Nixon Was the President of the United Stated. Which his administration tried to hamper any filtration of the documents that will harm his image about the War, after even the Court gave green light to published the documents.





Ngo Dinh Diem


Ngo Dinh Diem was the first president of South Vietnam. Edward Lansdale worked for the CIA and was a key factor to help Diem become president. In 1963 was assassinated in a coup organized by the US.




Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg

Daniel Ellsberg


Daniel Ellsberg began to work in the Pentagon In 1964 where he was an analyst in the military department. When he was sent to Vietnam to evaluate the war situation he discovered there were many errors and saw the truth of war. McNamara, director of the Defense department, lied continuously about the war, knowing the United State would not win it. Ellsberg knew about the truth about the war and the political intentions behind it.

He left the Pentagon and returned to his old work, the RAND Corporation. Anthony Russo, from the RAND Corporation, helped him to recollect and classified documents. These documents were kept by the Rand Corporation as “top secret”. In 1969 Ellsberg started making copies of the 7,000 pages. In 1971 he released these documents to The New York Times through a journalist he met in the war, Neil Sheehan.


New York Times

New York Times

The New York Times


The New York Times Was the newspaper who released the documents that Ellsberg copied and kept with the information that incriminated the government.

Firstly they only published 9 commentaries, and during 15 days weren’t allowed to publish the rest of the articles by court orders, so Ellsberg published the rest of the documents through other media. After 17 days, Court gave free hand to The New York Times, and was able to publish all the documents, but never mentioned Ellsberg as they source.







“The Pentagon Papers” is a clear example of how often leaders publicly lie and how often investigative journalism in necessary. This is not something happened only in this case in the 70’s, but nowadays, in the Afghanistan and Iraq war with the filtrations of Wikileaks.

Images from a video recorded from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, leaked.  Were it is shown the murder of two journalists working for Reuters. It also shows the murder of nine people who were at the scene helping to remove the bodies.

It is that not all journalism is good, many media and many journalists are bought by governments in the U.S and all around the world. But there are journalists and media, as Neil Sheehan thank you to Daniel Ellsberg, as Julian Assange and Wikileaks inter alia that break the relationship with governments. People that believe in truth and in press freedom, never mind them of the consequences that this might have. Never mind them of the FBI or the plumbers, because journalism is the only one who can observe government. Journalism is the Fourth Power.

To conclude, this is an example of how many leaders publicly lie and how often investigative journalism if necessary. And is that not all journalism is good, many media many journalists are bought by governments in the U.S. in Spain and around the world, but there are journalists and media that break the relationship with governments and believe in the truth, never mind them of the consequences that this might have, because journalism is the only one who can observe governments.



The 18th of January 2013 El Mundo publishes an article with the information that Bárcenas had been paying black money bonuses to senior politicians from PP. Thirteen days later, January 31st El País publishes photocopies of some supposed papers written by Bárcenas with the black accounting of the party. Those papers received the name of Bárcenas papers. An alleged accounting B the former treasurer had led from 1990-2009. Three months later, April 11st ABC (in the paper edition) publishes the first part of the exclusive on how the papers were leaked. Jorge Trias Sagnier (lawyer and former deputy of the PP) delivered copies of the papers to Gerardo Viada (lawyer of El País).

The 27th of June Bárcenas enters in prison. The 7th of July El Mundo publishes an interview between Bárcenas and Pedro J. Ramirez in which the former treasurer of PP claims the authorship of papers.

Comparation between Bárcenas Papers and Pentagon Papers

1. In both cases the leak disassembled the credibility of the government:

Pentagon Papers – by concealing information about the Vietnam War.

Bárcenas Papers – by discovering a B accounting in PP.

2. In both cases the leak comes from “the inside”:

Pentagon papers – Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon official.

Bárcenas papers –Jorge Trias Sagnier, PP lawyer.

3. The two cases were made public throug national newspapers:

Pentagon Papers – The New York Times and The Washington Post.

Bárcenas Papers – El País and El Mundo.

4. In response, the two governments denounced the media:

Pentagon Papers – U.S. government complaint against The New York Times. Won by the newspaper and            considered one of the pillars of modern press freedom.

Bárcenas Papers – denunciation of PP to El País.

Case of Pedro J Ramirez:

It is not any secret that politics and media have been always linked. A clear example of this is the case of Pedro J Ramirez. Pedro J Ramirez was the director of the newspaper El Mundo. When he published Barcenas papers, the illegal Financing of PP and the bonuses of their bosses, Mariano Rajoy accused him of “manipulate and distort the allegations of a criminal to generate slander”.

Also due to the economic crisis this industry was passing a very difficult time and the Prime Minister should help to support this important business to keep citizens informed, he could help with technological restructuring plans, training of journalists or promoting reading. But instead of this he maintains 21% VAT for digital newspapers, against the 2, 5% in France. So, finally because of the political pressure Pedro J Ramirez resigns.

This case can be compared with “The Pentagon Papers”. Daniel Ellsberg, an official of the Pentagon publishes “The Pentagon Papers”, a document explaining the secret participation of US in Vietnam and he publishes it in two newspapers. This caused high political controversy and Richard Nixon, the Prime Minister of US in that moment carry out legal actions against the newspaper.

Finally, Supreme Court decides that the mandates to prevent publications were unconstitutional and allowed newspapers the right to continue publishing. These are similar cases but with different endings, in Spain we can say that the government wins the war against the media, instead of USA, that wins Media.

Illustration: Comparison of both; Pedro J Ramirez and Pentagon Papers case



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