Cornelius Mahoney "Neil" Sheehan (born October 27, 1936) is an American journalist. As a reporter for The New York Times in 1971, Sheehan obtained the classified Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg. His series of articles revealed a secret U.S. Department of Defense history of the Vietnam War and led to a U.S. Supreme Court case, New York Times Co. v. United States (403 U.S. 713), when the United States government attempted to halt publication.
He received a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his 1988 book A Bright Shining Lie, about the life of Lieutenant Colonel John Paul Vann and the United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts and raised on a farm nearby, Sheehan graduated from Mount Hermon School (later Northfield Mount Hermon) and Harvard University with a B.A. in 1958. He served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962, when he was assigned to Korea, and then transferred to Tokyo, where he did work moonlighting in the Tokyo bureau of United Press International (UPI). After his stint in the army he spent two years covering the war in Vietnam as UPI's Saigon bureau chief. Sheehan relied heavily for information on Phạm Xuân Ẩn, who was later revealed to be a North Vietnamese agent. In 1963, during the Buddhist crisis, he and David Halberstam debunked the claim by the Ngô Đình Diệm regime that the Army of the Republic of Vietnam regular forces had perpetrated the Xá Lợi Pagoda raids, which U.S. authorities initially accepted. They showed instead that the raiders were Special Forces loyal to Diệm's brother, Nhu, and motivated to frame the army generals. In 1964 he joined The New York Times and worked the city desk for a while before returning to the Far East, first to Indonesia and then to spend another year in Vietnam...
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