FBI and the phones

Ron Silliman (rsillima@ix.netcom.com)
Fri, 5 Apr 1996 16:05:36 -0500

Paula Friedman,

Your account of your phone problems almost exactly replicates my own
experiences a few years later. In 1974, I spent a week baby-sitting
Stephen Weed while he and Randolph Hearst were trying to reformulate
the money from the People In Need food program into some sort of
program for prison movement groups (actually, what I was really trying
to accomplish, most of all, was to keep members of the various orgs
from killing one another in blood lust over the thought of so much
money). At the same time, my roommate was dating the head of the East
Bay chapter of the Sparticist League. We'd pick up the phone and hear
old conversations we had had days earlier playing on the other end and
that sort of thing. Also the dead lines and all the rest of it. It was
quite spooky.

I still recall Rule One from those days: when the FBI shows up at your
door, step outside and lock it behind you (even if you don't have a
key), so they can't just step inside and say that you "invited" them

Later, when I got my FBI records (130 pages of garbage, though it
included some stuff on a UC English Dept student who must have a
stringer for the CIA, reporting on the politics of his fellow students
and neighbors back in 1968), there was no mention of this activity. But
then there wasn't even mention of one formal "on the record" interview
I'd had with the FBI after my phone number was found in Sara Jane
Moore's address book.

My sense was that a lot of surveillance activity in the 1960s amounted
to a weird "make work" program -- there were people interviewing
janitors of buildings I'd lived in and teachers of courses I'd dropped
after one or two sessions (though none of the teachers whose courses
I'd stayed in). I think that revealing that your phone was tapped was
their way of provoking paranoia, just to see what sort of behavior you
would display in response. They collected tons of this data.

Personally, I preferred CETA as a jobs program.

Ron Silliman