TRIALS: Pentagon Papers: Case Dismissed

I HAVE decided to declare a mistrial and grant the motion to dismiss." With these 13 terse words, Judge William Matthew Byrne Jr. ended one of the most extraordinary legal—and in many ways, illegal—proceedings in the history of American justice.

By his ruling, the judge cleared Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony J. Russo Jr., both of whom freely admitted that they had secretly copied and leaked the Pentagon papers, of eight charges of espionage, six of theft and one of conspiracy. But since the case had never reached the jury, the two were not...

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