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Senator Mike Gravel Dies at 91

Mike Gravel, a two-term U.S. senator and two-time presidential candidate who daringly revealed the top secret Pentagon Papers in Congress, died on Saturday in Seaside, California at the age of 91.

Gravel, a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, who represented Alaska in the Senate from 1969 to 1981, pushed through legislation that helped develop one of the least developed states, lifting Native Alaskans out of poverty.

On June 29, 1971—50 years ago on Tuesday—Gravel was the only senator who had accepted the classified Pentagon Papers—an internal, government study of the Vietnam War—from whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and read from them during an emotional hearing that Gravel convened on Capitol Hill.

Gravel was motivated by his strong opposition to the U.S. war in Southeast Asia and his rejection of U.S. militarism and executive abuse of power—positions he maintained through his two runs for the Democratic Party nomination for president.

Fearing expulsion or censure by the Senate, and possibly even arrest, the second-year senator put the entire 7,000-page study into the Congressional Record. His aides handed out photocopies of the documents to reporters at a time when publication of the Papers stopped after President Richard M. Nixon’s Justice Department had slapped injunctions on several newspapers.

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William_Mary 8 June 27
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