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Wake Forest adds events to 'Secrets vs. Security'

January 8, 2008

Wake Forest University will explore the challenging balance between protecting the nation and upholding American freedoms through a series of events in January.  “Secrets vs. Security” features a live docudrama of the Washington Post editors’ decision to publish the Pentagon Papers and a lecture by Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked them to the press in 1971. 

"As a historian, I believe we learn from the past and apply that knowledge to the decisions we make today,” said Nathan O. Hatch, president of Wake Forest University.  “Secrets and the government’s appropriate or inappropriate role in keeping them was a monumental issue during the Vietnam and Watergate era.  Today, secrecy continues to be a topic of headlines.  By hosting ‘Secrets versus Security,’ Wake Forest is not only hoping to illuminate an issue of concern to all citizens, but also provide opportunities for people to examine it through different lenses.”

"Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers” will be presented by L.A. Theatre Works as part of the Secrest Artists Series at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17 and 18 in Wait Chapel.  The performance uses original source material, including interviews and documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, and presents a kind of living history through drama.  The play stars actor John Heard as Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee and John Vickery in dual roles as Washington Post editor Ben Bagdikian and Richard Nixon’s assistant attorney-general Robert Mardian.  Shannon Cochran, who studied at Wake Forest before embarking on her successful acting career, returns to campus in her role as The Washington Post’s publisher Katharine Graham.

A Secrest Signature Pre-Performance Talk will be held at 6:40 p.m. each night in the Balcony Room of Wait Chapel.  Kathy Smith, professor of political science, will speak on Jan. 17 and Katy Harriger, professor and chair of the political science department, will speak on Jan. 18.

Members of the cast will speak with Wake Forest theatre students as part of a "Creativity and Innovation” class taught by Lynn Book, visiting associate professor in theatre.  The class is not open to the public.  Note to editors:  Members of the media may attend the class.  The panel will be held from noon to 1:15 p.m. Jan. 17 in the Ring Theatre at the Scales Fine Arts Center. 

Tickets to the theatre performance are $25 for the general public; $20 for non-Wake Forest students.  To purchase tickets, call 336-758-5295.  Tickets are free to Wake Forest students, faculty and staff.  

Radio station WSJS (600 AM) will broadcast “Live and Local” from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 14 in the Ring Theatre in the Scales Fine Arts Center.  The program will include panelists and questions and comments from both the live and radio audiences.  Wake Forest panelists will include Robert Chesney, associate professor of law; Katy Harriger, professor and chair of the political science department; and Randy Rogan, professor and chair of the communication department.

Radio station WZTK (101.1 FM) will broadcast the “Allan Handelman Show”
live from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22 in the Benson University Center.  The program will feature interviews with Wake Forest faculty, including John Dinan, associate professor of political science, and John Llewellyn, associate professor of communication, as well as questions from the radio audience.

Daniel Ellsberg will give a free lecture presented by the Voices of Our Time speaker series at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 in Brendle Recital Hall.  Ellsberg served in the Pentagon under Secretary of State Robert McNamara.  While studying classified documents concerning the U.S. entry into the Vietnam War, Ellsberg became disillusioned with the ongoing conduct of the war.  When no sympathetic senator would release the documents from the Senate floor, Ellsberg leaked the top-secret documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.  Ellsberg was charged with 12 felony counts including theft, conspiracy and espionage, and if found guilty he could have faced up to 115 years in prison.  However, his case was ultimately tied to the bungled Watergate break-in, an effort to find documents that would discredit him.  The charges against Ellsberg were dropped in 1973.

The Secrest Artists Series is an annual cultural arts series that presents renowned national and international performing artists to both the Wake Forest community and the general public. 

Voices of Our Time is an annual guest speaker series that exposes students, the Wake Forest community and the general public to some of the world’s leading thinkers. It was established by Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

More information about the “Secrets vs. Security” events is available online at

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237

Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237

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