Gerald Gold, an editor for The New York Times who oversaw the task of sifting through a secret Defense Department history of the Vietnam War, later dubbed the Pentagon Papers, died Wednesday at a Melville hospice, The Times reports.
Gold, 85, died of heart failure his daughter told the paper.
In 1971, Neil Sheehan, a reporter for The Times, was given 47 volumes of confidential documents. He and Gold combed through the papers for 10 weeks, producing articles showing that Johnson administration officials had lied about the war.
The first article was titled "Vietnam Archive: Pentagon Study Traces Three Decades of Growing US Involvement." The series showed that the United States had purposley expanded its war with bombing of Cambodia and Laos, none of which had been reported by American media. They also revealed that President Johnson had already decided to expand the invasion while promising to "seek no wider war" during his 1964 presidential campaign.
After three series of the articles, the government won a court order restraining further publication. However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Times. The ruling was hailed as a triumph for press freedom and set off a new suspicion about government.
The report was eventually declassified and publicly released in June 2011.