The Most Dangerous Man in America; Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2010)
Having published a memoir about his role in the Vietnam war called Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (New York: Viking, 2002), this bio-documentary narrated mostly by Ellsberg himself puts a deeply human face on the man many people either love or hate. Ellsberg documented how five successive presidential administrations (Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon) systematically lied to the American people and to congress about the Vietnam war. His story is especially compelling because he served patriotically in Vietnam, only to have that experience convince him how terribly wrong his own government was about the war. As a Marine company commander in Vietnam, Ellsberg was an enthusiastic supporter of the war. But two years of wading through swampy jungles, and extended study of classified documents, convinced him that government rhetoric and empirical realities were two very different things. Ellsberg came home and became an outspoken critic of the war, and in an aggressive effort to stop the war he leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers to congress and then to the 17 media outlets — 7,000 pages in 47 volumes of top secret documents. Ellsberg fully expected to spend the rest of his life in jail (he faced counts that carried penalties of 115 years), until Nixon tainted the case with what became the Watergate fiasco. It was Kissinger who branded Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America."