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June 1: In Phnom Penh, terrorist explosions damage two buildings housing U.S. personnel. One American soldier is wounded. President Nixon, in a televised news conference, pledges to undertake a “national offensive” against drug abuse among the young. He also praises the District of Columbia’s police behavior during the Mayday protests. The U.S. command reports that a helicopter crash 24 miles northwest of Saigon has killed seven American GIs. The Defense Department names retired Air Force Col. Everett Hopson as coordinator to help curb drug abuse in the military. Vietnam Veterans for a Just Peace—which supports Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization and phased withdrawal—calls antiwar demonstrations by Vietnam Veterans Against the War “irresponsible” and an “attempt to intimidate the government into submission by taking over the streets.”

June 2: The Army accuses Brig. Gen. John Donaldson of the murders of six South Vietnamese civilians and of assaulting two others in the winter of 1968-69; his aide, Lt. Col. William McCloskey, is accused of two other murders. In the South Vietnamese National Assembly lower house, an anti-government deputy pulls out a grenade and threatens to blow himself up to protest a controversial election bill. U.S. bombers and helicopters strike three reported enemy divisions in eastern Cambodia. Abbie Hoffman pleads not guilty to charges of crossing state lines to incite a riot in the Mayday protests.

June 3: The lower house passes the election bill—calling for 40 deputy/senator or 100 elected provincial council members’ signatures on nomination papers—which could leave President Nguyen Van Thieu with no serious challenger in the October elections. North Vietnam says it has canceled arrangements to repatriate the sick and wounded POWs from the South because of the low numbers to be transferred.

June 4: The U.S. Senate defeats an amendment that would have ended the president’s authority to induct men into the military, and rejects an attempt to limit conscription to one more year. Studies show that 10 percent of retuning Vietnam veterans are unable to find work, double the national rate. Thirteen disabled North Vietnamese POWs are returned to Danang.

June 5: CIA agents identify at least 21 opium refineries in Burma, Thailand, and Laos that are providing a steady flow of heroin to U.S. troops in Vietnam. Brig. Gen. John Barnes, under Army investigation for dereliction of duty, is promoted to major general.

June 6: Gen. Duong Van Minh, Thieu’s political rival, calls the new election rules “unconstitutional.” Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.) accuses the Nixon administration of spending “hundreds of millions of dollars,” not the $52 million it publicly acknowledges, on a clandestine war in Laos. Officers at Fort Benning say retuning soldiers are often experiencing “Vietnam syndrome,” which includes resentment at having to put in months of “Mickey Mouse” duty after surviving a year in Vietnam, resentment over the indifferent homecoming they received, and alienation due to separation from war buddies. In Danang, Spec.4 Alfred Flint is sentenced to three years in prison and receives a dishonorable discharge for the murder of one of his officers and the attempted murder of another in a January 8 incident over loud music.

June 7: North Vietnam accuses the U.S. of conducting 210 bombing raids in the country in May. Senior American military analysts say North Vietnam has begun to step up the flow of war supplies through southern Laos. B-52s are reported to have bombed suspected enemy bunkers four miles south of the DMZ. The twin brother of a North Vietnamese diplomat who was part of the Viet Cong says he defected to the South because of his disillusionment with them and because of the friendly treatment he received as a POW. The American command reports troop strength in Vietnam is at 250,000, the lowest since early 1966. The State Department calls financial and material support for Thai “volunteers” in Laos “fully consistent with all pertinent legislation.”

June 8: The Senate approves $2.7 billion in increased pay for the military. Former Defense Secretary Clark Clifford says the U.S. could end involvement in Southeast Asia by the end of the year and obtain the release of POWs within thirty days of a joint announcement of an accord with a “concise, workable” plan for full U.S. withdrawal and a halt to all military activity by December 31.

June 9: The Senate sets a ceiling on the number of men who can be drafted into the military during the next two fiscal years. The U.S. Information Agency, after spending $250,000 and three years on a major propaganda movie about the Vietnam War, shelves the film. The White House charges Clifford and others with raising “false hopes” about U.S. POWs “for domestic political purposes.” The Senate approves two amendments to the draft bill. The first would require the military to identify drug addicts and offer them rehabilitation; the second would authorize Nixon to report to Congress, within thirty days, on what the U.S. and foreign governments are doing to “control and eliminate” drug production, processing, and trafficking, and for the U.S. to identify countries that are failing to cooperate.

June 10: Supporters say South Vietnamese Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky will run in the October election with help from Gen. Minh. In Paris, North Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government say if the U.S. sets a withdrawal date, they will discuss a full prisoner exchange. The Senate begins debate on the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment, which would require the withdrawal of all American forces from Vietnam by the end of 1971.

June 11: Thieu streamlines his cabinet from 30 to 26 members; he removes men associated with his political rival, Ky, and those tainted by scandal. Cambodian acting premier Lt. Gen. Sisowath Sirik Matak appeals to have the area around the ancient temples of Angkor Wat declared a demilitarized zone. W. Averell Harriman, former U.S. representative to the Paris peace talks, testifies before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that “it is clear” the White House does not want to set a definite withdrawal date because it “wants to see the present government in Saigon maintained.” He also endorses Clifford’s plan to end the war. A U.S. Air Force F-105, on an escort mission with B-52s, attacks antiaircraft weapons in North Vietnam. The Pentagon says Gen. George Young, Jr., censured for failure to conduct an adequate investigation into the March 1968 killings of civilians at My Lai, will retire on June 30 after 29 years in the Army.

June 12: North Vietnam’s National Assembly re-elects most of the country’s top leaders.

June 13: The New York Times publishes an article by Neil Sheehan about a massive one-year study (excerpted over the next three days), commissioned by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and conducted by the Pentagon three years earlier, of how the U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War. The 3,000-page report (with 4,000 pages of appended documents) shows how four administrations—from Truman to Johnson—developed a sense of commitment to a noncommunist Vietnam. Nixon, in a letter to Secretary of Labor James Hodgson, asks him to begin an “effective mobilization of federal resources” to help place unemployed Vietnam veterans in jobs or training. B-52s bomb suspected enemy positions south of the DMZ.

June 14: In a telegram, Attorney General John Mitchell asks The New York Times to refrain from publishing the Pentagon documents because their release will cause “irreparable injury to the defense interests of the United States.” The newspaper refuses to comply with Mitchell’s request. Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield asks Nixon to seek an immediate, phased withdrawal of all U.S. troops in exchange for a phased release of all POWs. Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.), a presidential candidate in 1964, says he knew Johnson planned to widen the war in Vietnam one month before the Gulf of Tonkin incident.

June 15: The U.S. command reports four American GIs were killed in an ambush 42 miles northeast of Saigon. B-52s bomb the area around the base at Khe Sanh in an effort to halt an NVA build-up. U.S. district judge Murray Gurfein grants the Justice Department’s request and orders The New York Times to halt publication of the Pentagon study for four days. Gurfein, however, refuses to order the newspaper to return the report. Mansfield announces he will hold public hearings on how the U.S. became involved in the Vietnam War; he claims the study shows that the Johnson administration decided to enlarge the U.S. role in Vietnam without informing Congress. Secretary of State William Rogers, during a news conference, says the Pentagon documents’ publication is a “very serious matter” that is going to cause a “great deal of difficulty” with foreign governments because it raises the question of confidentiality. He also asserts the U.S. can’t abandon “national objectives” in Vietnam to meet the “ransom” being demanded for release of POWs by North Vietnam. Administration sources say they are engaged in a broad policy review to determine courses of action so the South Vietnamese military capability can withstand enemy assaults after U.S. troops are withdrawn. Nixon names Robert Froehike, assistant secretary of defense for administration, as the new secretary of the Army.

June 16: The Senate rejects the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment and another amendment that would have set a troop-withdrawal deadline of June 1, 1972. Congressional opponents of the Vietnam War criticize the court order to stop The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon study. The newspaper refuses to turn over the documents to Sen. J.W. Fulbright (D-Ark.) and Rep. Paul McCloskey (R-Calif.). The Justice Department asks Judge Gurfein to order the documents be turned over for government inspection. Military judge Col. Kenneth Howard, explaining he “will not allow a fishing expedition,” sidetracks the court-martial of Capt. Ernest Medina—to be tried for murdering civilians at My Lai—and orders a separate hearing on whether improper command influence had been exerted in bringing the defendant to trial.

June 17: The New York Times gives the court and the Justice Department a list of detailed headlines of the documents in its possession, which Judge Gurfein deems satisfactory.

June 18: A spokesman says Nixon is more concerned with whether a precedent might be set for future disclosure of secret documents than whether The New York Times endangered national security by printing the Pentagon study. Gurfein refuses to permit The Times to resume immediate publication of the documents, even though The Washington Post has begun a similar series. A government move for the courts to stop The Post’s series is rejected. Three women are killed after a bomb goes off in front of a restaurant in Saigon. Daniel Ellsberg—the former government adviser who is alleged to have leaked the secret Pentagon documents—calls the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he is a senior research associate, to say he and his wife are well. They were last seen on June 16.

June 19: In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals reverses a ruling of the lower court and orders The Washington Post to stop publication of the Pentagon study series, but it grants the paper permission to continue to print the study in today’s edition. The two judges who voted to halt publication issue their written opinion, which states: “Freedom of the press, as important as it is, is not boundless.” The third judge, in his dissenting opinion, accuses the executive branch of “enlisting the judiciary in the suppression of our most precious freedom” and charges that the restraining order “cheapens the First Amendment.” In Saigon, the South Vietnamese government celebrates Armed Forces Day with its first parade since 1967 by showing off the nation’s growing military might. Thieu tells the crowd that the Army will ensure the country is “free of communism in any form.” Gurfien rejects the government’s assertion that the publication of the secret documents will severely damage national security. He refuses to prohibit the The New York Times from further printing the study, but Judge Irving Kaufman blocks the paper from printing the documents in its June 20 issue and restricts further publication until Monday, June 21, to allow a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals to consider Gurfein’s ruling.

June 21: Sen. Mansfield introduces an amendment to the Selective Service bill that would have all U.S. troops in Southeast Asia withdrawn within nine months. Federal district judge Gerhard Gesell rules The Post can resume printing articles on the Pentagon study, but the circuit court orders a delay until a hearing on June 22. In New York, the three-man Court of Appeals extends the restraining order on The New York Times to allow the eight members to hear the case on June 22. Peter C. Lemon, a Medal of Honor recipient, says he was “stoned” on marijuana—“the only time” he went into combat in that state—the night he fought off the two waves of VC. NVA soldiers who assaulted Fire Base Fuller, a South Vietnamese mountaintop outpost, are bombarded by B-52s. In Medina’s pretrial hearing, Aubrey Daniel III, the successful prosecutor in the trial of 1st Lt. William Calley, Jr., testifies the Army blocked his attempt to have Medina called as a government witness.

June 22: The Senate adopts Mansfield’s withdrawal deadline amendment. The Justice Department gets a restraining order against The Boston Globe after it publishes parts of the Pentagon documents. The government offers to begin an interagency review of the study to determine how much of it can be declassified. Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird says he has already ordered such a review. The Veterans Administration announces it is adding 27 drug-addiction clinics to cope with the increase of addicts who served in Vietnam and on other overseas bases. At Medina’s pretrial hearing, Lt. Gen. Albert Connor, the Third Army commander, denies the defendant is being court-martialed to protect the Army’s image.

June 23: Nixon says he will make the complete 47-volume Pentagon study available to Congress with the understanding that no documents will be made public until the classification review is finished. Ellsberg, in a television interview, charges that the U.S. is fully to blame for the Vietnam War. In Washington, D.C., the U.S. Court of Appeals declares that The Washington Post has a constitutional right to print articles on the classified Pentagon study, but it restricts the paper from further publication until Friday, June 25, to allow the government to appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York delays The New York Times from publishing Pentagon documents until Friday and denies the newspaper the right to publish any material the government deems as dangerous to national security. The court tells Gurfein he must determine by July 3 what parts of the study “pose such grave and immediate danger to the security of the United States as to warrant their publication being enjoined.” Le Duc Tho is named as the new head of North Vietnam’s peace negotiating team in Paris. Thieu signs the election bill into law.

June 24: The Senate approves a bill to continue the draft for two more years. The Court of Appeals in Washington denies the Justice Department a rehearing. The government asks the Supreme Court to overrule the decision. The New York Times asks the Supreme Court to permit publication of what’s become known as The Pentagon Papers. Le Duc Tho arrives in Paris. He states he is ready to stay as long as his “presence is needed.” Four Americans are reported killed in fighting with enemy troops 15 miles north of Fire Base Fuller.

June 25: The Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments on Saturday, June 26, on the publication of the Pentagon documents and places The New York Times and The Washington Post under equal publication restraints. Four Supreme Court justices issue a dissent, saying they favor letting the papers resume printing the study without hearing arguments. Medina is ordered to stand trial for the My Lai killings, but the possibility of receiving the death penalty is eliminated. The Pathet Lao renew a proposal to the Laotian government for a cease-fire and talks.

June 26: The Justice Department announces that a federal magistrate in Los Angeles has issued a warrant for Ellsberg’s arrest on charges he had “unauthorized possession of top-secret documents and failed to return them.” Two lawyers representing Ellsberg say he will turn himself in to federal authorities on Monday morning. The Supreme Court hears two hours of arguments in The Pentagon Papers case after rejecting the Justice Department’s request for secrecy.

June 28: The House rejects a measure calling for all U.S. troops to be withdrawn in nine months. The Supreme Court clears boxer Muhammed Ali of charges he had refused induction into the Army in 1964, but puts off a decision on the Pentagon documents. Ellsberg states he gave The Pentagon Papers to the press and surrenders to the U.S. attorney in Boston. Amnesty International says South Vietnam has rejected its request to examine POW conditions there.

June 29: Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska) reads from the Pentagon study for reporters. The Justice Department says it will not seek a restraining order for the Christian Science Monitor because the editors “had cooperated by disclosing to [the U.S. attorney in Boston] the nature of the contents of the two remaining installments they propose to publish” on the Pentagon documents. Three U.S. troops are killed in a six-hour clash 60 miles east of Saigon.

Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham and Executive Editor Benjamin Bradlee read the 6-3 Supreme Court decision that permitted the paper to publish stories based on The Pentagon Papers, June 30, 1971.Photo: Charles Del Vecchio/The Washington Post via Getty Images

June 30: In a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court frees The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others to immediately resume publication of The Pentagon Papers. The Court rules any attempt to block news articles prior to publication bears “a heavy burden of presumption against its constitutionality,” a burden “the government has not met.” Bantam Books announces it will be issuing a complete collection of The New York Times series. Thieu says he foresees a “final confrontation” between his country and the North in 1973 after the withdrawal of all allied troops has been completed. William Colby, chief of U.S. pacification for Vietnam, gives up his duties because his daughter is ill. House and Senate negotiators agree to cut the military pay raise $900 million below what both houses had earlier approved.

July 1: In Paris, the Viet Cong presents a seven-point peace proposal. It includes an offer to release all POWs being held in North and South Vietnam by the end of the year provided all U.S. troops are withdrawn by then. The White House says the proposal shows “positive as well as clearly unacceptable elements,” but could form the basis for serious peace negotiations. The U.S. announces the single largest troop pullout, 6,100 to date.

July 2: During an NBC-TV interview, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk says, in response to The Pentagon Papers, that there was no “deliberate attempt to deceive anybody” about American involvement in Vietnam. Anthony Russo is sentenced to jail for contempt of court for refusing to answer questions before a federal grand jury investigating The Pentagon Papers’ release.

July 3: Henry Kissinger arrives in Saigon. The South Vietnamese government opens its anti-narcotics campaign with a large public ceremony. Reports cite a growing concern in several South Vietnamese areas over hostile actions, usually robberies, by some South Vietnamese troops against U.S. GIs. Melvin Gurtov, one of the authors of the secret Pentagon Papers, says the pattern of governmental deceit uncovered in the study is still going on in the Nixon administration.

July 4: China backs the VC peace proposal. Kissinger and South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu meet for two hours to discuss U.S. troop withdrawals, aid, and the VC peace plan.




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