The FBI tried to bust Abbie Hoffman for publishing public records

Bureau feared release of “anti-American” material that had been produced by the American government

Written by JPat Brown
Edited by Michael Morisy

On what would have been the radical’s 80th birthday, we look back at one of the strangest incidents in Abbie Hoffman’s 13,000 plus page FBI file: when the Bureau tried to bust him for publishing the government’s own records.

Abbie Hoffman FBI Header

In 1969, the Bureau managed to get its hands on a rough draft of Hoffman’s upcoming book, Woodstock Nation, having been tipped off that it was “anti-American.”

Abbie Hoffman FBI Woodstock

The book, written while Hoffman was awaiting trial for the infamous Chicago Seven case, describes Hoffman’s experience at the festival, and was of particular interest to the Bureau due to the chapter on attaching explosives to dogs.

Abbie Hoffman Army Manual Dogs

As a side note for those unfamiliar with his work, Hoffman’s narrative style could charitably described as “all over the place.”

The recipe for said explosives came from the Army’s Field Manual 19-30, and the FBI launched an inquiry into whether Hoffman would be violating any Federal laws by publishing it.

That inquiry was almost immediately closed, however, when it was very quickly determined that the manual was a declassified public document literally available to anybody who asked.

Abbie Hoffman FBI file Public Records Anybody

Thwarted again by their inability to suppress their own information, the Bureau was powerless to stop the publication of Woodstock Nation a few months later.

The relevant section of Abbie Hoffman’s FBI file has been embedded below, and the rest can be read on the request page.


Image via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0