On Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with The GroundTruth Project, presented “Truth, Dissent, & the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” a free online conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers release.

More than two dozen distinguished historians, journalists, activists, whistleblowers, and former policymakers explored the major issues that have engaged Ellsberg’s life: the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, antiwar resistance, the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, whistleblowing, and the wars of the 21st century.

Day One

April 30, 2021

10:00 AM – 11:15 AM
Student Roundtable: Lessons from the Ellsberg Archive
Christian Appy and Kathy Roberts Forde with the Ellsberg Seminar Students

Sit in on the year-long UMass Amherst seminar, “Truth, Dissent, and the Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg,” as professors Christian Appy and Kathy Roberts Forde talk with their students about digging through the Ellsberg archive, a 500-box collection of personal, professional, and government documents relating to Ellsberg’s life, legacy, and activism.

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Chancellor's Welcome and Keynote Address by Daniel Ellsberg
Kumble R. Subbaswamy (Opening Remarks) and Daniel Ellsberg, with Christian Appy and Charles Sennott (moderators)

Keynote remarks by Pentagon Papers whistleblower and activist Daniel Ellsberg followed by a conversation with acclaimed UMass Amherst historian Christian Appy and The GroundTruth Project founder and journalist Charles Sennott ‘84. Ellsberg’s books include Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers and The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy will deliver opening remarks, formally launching the Truth, Dissent and The Legacy of Daniel Ellsberg conference.

1:00 PM – 2:30 PM
Why Nuclear Weapons Remain an Existential Threat and What to Do About It
Daniel Ellsberg, Beatrice Fihn, and Fred Kaplan, with Zia Mian (moderator)

Activist and Princeton physicist Zia Mian moderated a discussion with world experts on nuclear weapons and disarmament: Daniel Ellsberg, former RAND corporation expert on nuclear strategy and longtime antinuclear activist; Beatrice Fihn, leader of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons; and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Fred Kaplan, author of The Bomb: Presidents, Generals, and the Secret History of Nuclear War.

2:45 PM – 4:15 PM
The American War in Vietnam and Why It Still Matters
Bill Ehrhart, Carolyn Eisenberg, Frances FitzGerald, Fredrik Logevall, and Ngo Vinh Long, with Christian Appy (moderator)

This panel explored the history and current relevance of the Vietnam War and the Pentagon Papers. Hear from two Pulitzer Prize-winning writers—journalist Frances FitzGerald and historian Fredrik Logevall—along with renowned poet, author, and Vietnam veteran Bill Ehrhart and distinguished historians Ngo Vinh Long and Carolyn Eisenberg, with Christian Appy moderating.

Day Two

May 1, 2021

9:45 AM – 11:15 AM
Antiwar Movements Then and Now
Mandy Carter, Randy Kehler, Nguyet Nguyen, Susan Schnall, Danny Sjursen, and Wayne Smith, with Christian Appy and Kathy Roberts Forde (moderators)

The Vietnam War spawned the most diverse and vibrant antiwar movement in U.S. history. Where is it now? A panel of activists—including longtime racial justice and peace advocate Mandy Carter, Vietnam War draft resister and co-founder of the nuclear freeze movement Randy Kehler, historian of antiwar movements Nguyet Nguyen, Navy veteran and peace campaigner Susan Schnall, retired U.S. Army officer and writer Danny Sjursen, and Vietnam combat medic and veterans advocate Wayne Smith—discussed the past, present, and future of antiwar movements. Moderated by UMass Amherst professors Christian Appy and Kathy Roberts Forde.

11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
The Pentagon Papers and Watergate
John Dean, James Goodale, Morton Halperin, Elizabeth Holtzman, and Hedrick Smith, with Julia Rose Kraut (moderator)

How did the Pentagon Papers lead to Watergate and Richard Nixon’s downfall? Hear from key figures involved, including Nixon White House Counsel John Dean; former congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, who served on the Judiciary Committee during Watergate; Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist and principal Pentagon Papers reporter Hedrick Smith; former government official and foreign policy expert Morton Halperin; and attorney and First Amendment champion James Goodale. Moderated by attorney and historian Julia Rose Kraut.

1:30 PM – 3:00 PM
Whistleblowers: Plenary Panel with Daniel Ellsberg and Edward Snowden
Daniel Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, with Amy Goodman (moderator).

An historic conversation between Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, moderated by the award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now! Amy Goodman.

3:15 PM – 4:45 PM
Lessons and Legacies in an Age of Endless War
Neta Crawford, Azmat Khan, Nick Turse, and Craig Whitlock, with Charles Sennott (moderator)

Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. We are living in an era of perpetual war and countless U.S. military interventions despite repeated failure to achieve stated objectives. Where are we and how did we get here?  Hear from leading journalists and scholars, including political scientist and co-director of the Costs of War Project Neta C. Crawford, investigative journalist and professor Azmat Khan, war-reporter and author Nick Turse, and Craig Whitlock, the Washington Post journalist who broke the Afghanistan Papers story.

Closed captioning available.