FBI informants: the gender compostion of the snitch system?

vacomm@interlog.com ("vacomm@interlog.com")
Sat, 16 May 1998 21:39:04 +0000

I'm working on a historicist paper on Thomas Pynchon's novel
_Vineland_. As part of the research, I've been reading the more
recent stuff on COINTELPRO New Left (James Kirkpartick Davis' work
mainly) but cannot find anything at all on the gender composition of
the FBI field agents' informant network or any indication at all that
a considerable number of women participated in it. (The question has
a direct bearing on Pynchon's portayal of the sixties in _Vineland_.
For those not familiar with this novel, the central act of betrayal
which leads to the demise of the novel's one (fictional) New Left
group is committed by a woman who, seduced by a government agent,
turns an FBI informant and then sets up the murder of the group's

What I need to find out, if at all possible, is just how prevalent or
even common was the practice of luring (or sexually entrapping)
female members of various New Left and anti-war groups into the FBI
informant scheme during the sixties? And if at all common, how
successful it was.

I welcome any personal impressions, anecdotal material,
reminiscences, informed estimates -- frankly, anything at all that
could help me begin to answer the puzzle of whatever historically
factual substance there might be behind Pynchon's symbolic take on
the disintegration of the New Left.

Vaska Tumir