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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

Neil Sheehan: Initially, we had this great conflict with the commanding general and the ambassador because we were losing the war, and they claimed we were winning the war. When we reporters went out into the field, we saw this army that wouldn't fight, that was led by incompetent officers, who were political appointees, and who were corrupt. Many of them were corrupt. The Viet Cong were getting stronger all the time. The military advisors in the field were telling us also -- confirming -- what we were seeing, that we were losing the war. There was one military advisor in particular, John Paul Vann, who became the main figure of the book I wrote, who was a brilliant soldier, and John was brilliant at analyzing what was going on, and we became their conduit. The commanding general wouldn't listen to the reports he was getting. So the reporters were the only ones who were reflecting what the advisors in the field believed. So we had this tremendous conflict. He claimed we were winning the war, and these young reporters were inexperienced and emotional and we were politically suspect and we ought to be fired.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

The staff counsel, the lawyer for the paper hadn't heard anything about this, and he was brought into the room too, and kept saying to me, "Don't tell them this." He kept whispering in my ear, "We may have committed a felony here. Don't tell them this," and I said, "But I have to tell them. It's their responsibility. They're the editors." I held nothing back. I outlined what we had and how explosive it was going to be. We were not going to compromise the national security of the United States, but it was full of political and historical secrets which were going to cause an explosion, because that's what politicians care about. You could print a formula for a nuclear weapon, and that won't really excite them, but if you print something that reflects on their reputations and says they made a mistake, why that drives them right through the wall.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

They didn't have a lawyer to even go to court when they got a telegram from Mitchell saying, "Stop publishing and hand over the documents or meet me in court in the morning." Fortunately, they pulled a very good judge who believed in the First Amendment, who was very conservative. He was a Nixon appointee, and it was his first week on the bench, and it was his first case. His name was [Murray L.] Gurfein. He was a Jewish Dewey Republican, which was a rare beast in New York. Most Jewish figures who were involved in politics were Democrats, but not Judge -- what became Judge -- Gurfein, and he had been a very conservative lawyer, but he believed in the First Amendment, and he was a good lawyer. And he said to the government, "Okay. Now show me what's 'Top Secret: Sensitive,' in this." "Well," they said, "It's all." "Wait a minute. You've got 7,000 pages and a million words. It can't all be 'Top Secret: Sensitive.' What is it that's going to compromise the national security?" Because the government came in with a restraining order, with a case that if we continued to publish, it would cause immediate and irreparable harm to the national security. He said, "Okay. Now show me what's going to cause harm," and they couldn't show him anything. This man had been in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. He had been a colonel. So he wasn't an entire dummy.
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Neil Sheehan

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist

My friend, as I said, Charles Mohr, who worked for the Times, he quit Time magazine for that reason. They asked him to write a story on whether the commanding general and the ambassador were right, or whether the reporters were right, and this is the early period in Vietnam, when we were in the clash of whether we were winning or losing the war. Charley wrote them a story -- he was their Southeast Asia bureau chief -- the first sentence in his report, because he showed it to me, was "The war in Vietnam is being lost." They tore it up and threw it in the wastebasket and concocted out a whole clause, a story in New York, saying that we were making up our stories in the Caravel Hotel bar in Saigon, and Charley resigned over it.
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Alan Shepard

First American in Space

Alan Shepard: I think first of all you have to be there for the right reason. You have to be there not for the fame and glory and recognition and being a page in a history book, but you have to be there because you believe your talent and ability can be applied effectively to operation of the spacecraft. Whether you are an astronomer or a life scientist, geophysicist, or a pilot, you've got to be there because you believe you are good in your field, and you can contribute, not because you are going to get a lot of fame or whatever when you get back. So that motive has to be there to start with.
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Carol Shields

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

I think there's a kind of dialogue outside in that novel that has never taken place within the family. I would imagine that family members would read and say, "Oh, I can't believe this is my sister saying this." I suppose this is why I love novels, because novels are not just about what people do, but they're about what people think, and this is what, of course, we don't get in film either, the thinking mind, and perhaps this does make family members or friends uncomfortable. But on the other hand, I was always careful not to write about family or friends because I wanted them to remain my family and friends. I believe the old myth about people not wanting their photograph taken because it's a form of stealing their soul. I think there's something in that. So I always try to be very careful.
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