3. The delivery of the study group’s report and its use
In early January, 1969, just before the inauguration of Richard Nixon as President of the United States, Clifford received the completed report from the study group, along with supporting documents from the Department of Defense. Together they ran to over 7,000 pages and were organized into more than 40 volumes. The report was classified Top Secret and carried with it a caveat which designated it as sensitive information. The caveat meant that its dissemination should have been strictly controlled, with access limited only to persons with a “need to know”. President Johnson left office less than a week later, whether he ever was aware of the document before doing so remains debated. Likely he did not.
One of the limited number approved to view the document was the RAND Corporation. RAND was (and remains) a non-profit government-funded consultant organization. It also receives funding from private sources, including universities and defense contractors. It was founded by a defense contractor, the Douglas Aircraft Company, in 1948. Its role was to conduct analyses and research for the Department of Defense. It was given two copies of the report in 1969, with the proviso that access to it be limited and under the approval of at least two specified Department of Defense employees. One of RAND’s employees had worked on the project. His name was Daniel Ellsberg.