- REUTERS/Stephen Hird SH/ASA/DL
Steven Spielberg has agreed to direct an upcoming film about the 1971 leaking of what became known as “The Pentagon Papers,” which exposed systematic lies about US involvement in the Vietnam War, Deadline Hollywood reports.
“The Post” centers around the roles of The Washington Post in publishing the papers, with Tom Hanks set to star as the Post’s top editor, Ben Bradlee, alongside Meryl Streep as the paper’s publisher, Kay Graham.
The full details of the film are still being negotiated, and there’s no time yet known on when it might be released, according to Deadline.
The true story of the Pentagon Papers began with the 1967 creation of a secret task force to study US involvement in Vietnam from 1945 to 1967 by then-Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. As the war escalated, an analyst who worked on the study named Daniel Ellsberg secretly photocopied the documents and subsequently leaked the report to the press.
The documents showed that President Lyndon Johnson had “systematically lied” to the American public and to Congress about involvement in Vietnam, and showed that the US military had expanded the war outside the borders of Vietnam into neighboring Laos and Cambodia.
Beginning on June 13, 1971, the Times published a series of daily articles based on the information contained in the Pentagon Papers. After the third article, the U.S. Department of Justice got a temporary restraining order against further publication of the material, arguing that it was detrimental to U.S. national security. The Times and the Washington Post joined forces to fight the court battle, and on June 30 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the government had failed to prove harm to national security, and that publication of the papers was justified under the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of the press.
The Times and the Post both continued to publish the documents after the court order. The full report was later declassified and published in full by the National Archives.