FBI Files & Research

Fri, 11 Dec 1998 15:15:30 EST

In a message dated 98-12-11 12:40:06 EST, you Andi

>Um, you really think they were organized enough to have
>any "radical of any substance" covered? Ok, just for the
>record, it currently about 2 years for them to process your
>request/claim. I know, I just did it. And no, I don't have a
>file (partly because I was not "of substance" and partly because
>I'm convinced they, like 99.9 percent of the world cannot spell my
>name right, but never mind).I did it partly to see just how petty
> they were - and because I've become _more_ radical in later
>years, and wondered if that would be noted. And if Joe McD
> only has two pages, what is this going to prove anyway??
> Come now, we now need to carry around copies of our
>files? Maybe I'm trusting, but if someone states they were
>a radical, ok, fine, I will tend to believe them.

Andi's comments are in response to my suggestion that
FBI surveillance files can be used to substantiate someone's
claim of having been a radical activist in the 60s. This
suggestion was made in the context of a discussion of
methods by which academic researchers should go about
identifying former radicals for purposes of scholarly inquiry.

I think they should not rely only upon one person's claim.
Certainly, there are other channels of substantiation besides
FBI dossiers. News clippings, underground press articles,
and recollections of others can all be useful.

Andi reports having become "more radical" in later years.
How much later? The FBI's interest in radicalism was
intense in the 60s and early 70s but waned afterward.
Exposure of FBI misconduct during the Watergate period
was a factor -- along with the general decline in radical
activism during the 70s.

The type of activism engaged in was also a factor.
FBI surveillance and disruption operations focused
highly upon black militants, antiwar activists, and
avowedly socialist groups such as the Socialist
Workers Party, which conducted a lawsuit against
the FBI.

-- Michael Wright