Ellsberg at RAND

Ellsberg began consulting for the RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development), a global policy think tank, during the summer of 1958 and then permanently in 1959. His work centered on decision theory, war planning, and the command and control of America’s nuclear arsenal. Among other things, Ellsberg loved the intellectual energy at RAND’s Santa Monica research facility and the feeling that he and his colleagues were serving humanity in an important way.

As he gained expertise and greater access to classified information like the SIOP (Single Integrated Operational Plan), a rigid, all-purpose plan for the use of nuclear weapons, Ellsberg grew increasingly worried about the dangers of America’s nuclear programme. Thereafter, he sought to provide leaders with more flexible nuclear plans that would not automatically lead to global catastrophe.

The Cuban Missile Crisis

On October 22nd, 1962, President John F. Kennedy appeared on television to announce that the Soviet Union had installed offensive ballistic missiles in Cuba. This marked the beginning of a one month and four day long confrontation that has come to be known as the Cuban Missile Crisis. Daniel Ellsberg, then only 31 years old, staffed two round-the-clock working groups advising the State Department and Defense Department on the situation. He took extensive notes throughout the Crisis which include details of meetings held by the National Security Council Executive Committee or EXCOMM.