I spoke to the need of the Internet being free and being a source of much information that is not available elsewhere. I was looking for an article by Clarence Walker written in April 2005 asking whether FBI Agent John Connolly could “Go FREE?” I clicked on an article that seemed to have some of what I was looking for. It didn’t. Rather it was a document which the FBI called its Dead List.
It described it as “This is an updated list of the people the FBI understands are deceased. It amounts to a list of notable or famous individuals for whom there are FBI files (usually) or cross references to FBI files.” A little later it states: “FBI files on any of the individuals contained in this list may be requested by writing a letter.”
To say that this FBI list is disgraceful is to give it much more credit than it deserves. It shows an agency with no pride in its product. After spending a few minutes reading it I was dismayed to think such a shabby product would be put out by a government agency. But it tells us that the FBI filing system must be very sloppy and full of wrong information.
It also gives us an idea at who the FBI has been looking at over the years. If this product is an indication of how the FBI files are kept in-house then there’s little wonder we are being ill-served.
Here is what I read:
“Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, D.C. 20535 November 21, 2011
Subject: UPDATED DEAD LIST
The enclosed documents were reviewed under the Freedom of Information (FOIA), . . . Deletions have been made to protect information which is exempt from disclosure, . . . In addition, a deleted page information sheet was inserted in the file to indicate where pages were withheld entirely. . . . 671 pages were reviewed and 671 pages are being released.”
Each page had five columns: “Last Name; First and Middle; Suffix; Other Info; Original Dead List.” The last entry, “original dead list” indicated that there may have been several different dead lists. Examining that column it appears those were: Pearl Harbor, FBI Officials, LCN, and Communists.
I initially was skimming fast through the alphabet looking for gangsters. I came upon the entry: “BRANDEIS LOUIS D. d. 1939”
Interesting, I thought, what would the FBI be doing with a file on a Supreme Court Justice. Maybe they had files on all the justices. I checked on Robert H. Jackson who I referred to in this blog a couple of times. Nothing. That’s strange he was also attorney general and chief counsel to the Nazi Nuremberg trial.
I then thought that Jackson had a dispute with Hugo Black so I checked him. I found “BLACK HUGO L. d. 9/25/1971”. Black was considered very liberal so I want to see if some conservative justices like Rehnquist were there. I found: “REHNQUIST WILLIAM H. ‘. d.2005” I was sure Earl Warren was there and found “WARREN EARL d. 7/9/1974.”
It occurred to me that Abe Fortas, LBJ’s buddy, had some legal trouble. I checked him. His entry read: “FORTAS ABE COMMUNIST” So the FBI had Abe on its Communist list, that’s was a surprise. I checked Felix Frankfurter. “FRANKFURTER FELIX J. d. 1965 COMMUNIST.” The FBI had at least two of our Supreme Court justices on its Communist list.
I decided to get away from the justices. I thought of Martin Luther King knowing there had to be a file on him. I wondered if he was also considered a Communist. I found “KING MARTIN LUTHER JR.” and “KING MARTIN LUTHER SR” No dates of death or any other description. I thought of Thurgood Marshall and saw: “MARSHALL THURGOOD d. 1993”
An interesting entry a few down from him caught my eye: “Lesbian Activist MARTIN DEL d. 8/27/2008U” I wondered if it was her sexual preference that caused her to have a file. I searched the word “gay”. I found: “D. 1/26/2011 KATO DAVID Ugandan gay activist”; “D. 5/15/2009 McFARLANE RODGER advocate for gay rights”; “D. 12/10/2010 gay rights activist, founder of ·STARR . ADELE Parent FLAG, ·PFLAG”,
I then turned back to see what it said about others I felt might be considered Communists: I found “b. 4/1/1901 CHAMBERS WHITTAKER (JAY DAVID) d. 7/9/1961 COMMUNIST;” “HISS ALGER d: 11/16/1996,11/15/1996 COMMUNIST. I checked on Gus Hall and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and found they were not on the Communist list.
I wondered about presidents: I found nothing on FDR but the FBI did (as I expected) have a file on Eleanor Roosevelt; no file on Harry Truman but a file on his daughter Margaret Truman; no Eisenhower files; KENNEDY ROBERT F. d. Jan 1995; (wasn’t it 1968) KENNEDY JOHN F. d. 11/22/1963D.(nothing about president) 8/26/2009 KENNEDY EDWARD M. US Senator; ONASSIS . JACQUELINE KENNEDY d. May 1994;“ nothing on LBJ but a file on Lady Bird. It had a file on “NIXON · RICHARD MILHOUSE US President;” “FORD GERALD R. d. 12/26/2006 (no president).” The notice on REAGAN RONALD WILSON listed him as an Official with the notations “d. 6/5/2004 also was SAG and MPIC”; (it also listed files on Reagan’s daughter Maureen and brothers John Neil, and Neil, even though he had only one brother); nothing on Jimmy Carter;
I gave up when I went looking for gangsters and found a guy listed as “Meyer, Lansky” and another called “Lansky, Meyer;” and found Gerry Angiulo’s name misspelled. Gerry had been on the LCN list but his right hand man Larry Zannino aka Baione was not.
You get the idea. The list is a mess. It is a shameful reflection on the image the FBI gives us of itself when no one is looking.