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By jimstaro - Posted on 13 July 2011



National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 350 Posted - July 12, 2011 Edited By John Prados


June 13, 1971: The New York Times begins to publish the Pentagon Papers.

Washington, D.C., July 12, 2011 - What were the 11 words the government didn’t want you to see?

The aspect of the June 13 release of the full Pentagon Papers that has received the most attention is perhaps the U.S. Government’s attempt to keep under wraps 11 words on one page that had in fact been in the public domain since the government edition of the Papers was published by the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) in 1972. At the eleventh hour the censors, after intervention by National Archives and Presidential Library staff, abandoned that idea and left the words in the text, thus avoiding drawing attention to them. Still, speculation has been rife about what the “11 Words” were.

Classification authorities were quite right—from the standpoint of protecting secrecy—to leave the text as it stands. This makes it impossible to know what bit of the Pentagon Papers was at issue, and with the 11 Words embedded in more than 7,000 pages of text, identifying them precisely poses a huge challenge. Because the 11 Words were originally declassified long ago, there is nothing to highlight them, and the mass of the text makes it difficult just to review the material. Only speculation is feasible.

In keeping with the numerical motif, the National Security Archive here offers 11 possibilities for the identity of the 11 Words. There were two criteria for selection: that the information seemed somehow significant, and that it not figure among any of the newly declassified passages. read more>>>


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