Persistent FBI surveillance put no damper on I.F. Stone’s incisive pen

Thousands of pages track the free speech principles of one of the agency’s earliest and longest agitators

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

Isidor Feinstein Stone - popularly known as I.F. Stone and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation by a variety of alternate spellings - had one of the longest journalistic careers as a critic of federal operations, and, accordingly, his FBI file is thousands of pages long. Born before the First World War, by the time WWII was eminent, Mr. Stone was already an editor at The Nation and his writing career carried through the engagement, the early Cold War years, and much of the Vietnam era before his health required retirement.

In his November 9, 1959 edition of I.F. Stone’s Weekly, Mr. Stone highlighted the agency and its collusion with the House Un-American Activities in identifying communist sympathizers. By that point, they had already been following him for nearly two decades - he had piqued their interest during the discussion over the Smith Act - and as recently as four days prior, they had been in attendance at a rally of a reported three hundred-ish people gathered under the curious cause - almost certainly a Communist cabal in the Bureau’s consideration - of “First Amendment Defendents.”

The collection of honored attendees was something of a lightning rod for federal attention at the time, comprised of educators, authors, labor organizers, and others who had already been called before or proved of interest to the HUAC.

Among them was Lloyd Barenblatt, whose case before the Supreme Court had been decided against him at the beginning of the summer, finding that he had been in contempt of Congress when he refused to answer its questions about his political and religious leanings.

Mr. Stone took the opportunity to direct attention to the G-Men who might be in the audience, calling out their alliance with tyranny …

and their camaraderie with a particular noted Biblical backstabber …

The event is but one in the long-standing saga between Mr. Stone’s staunch First Amendment advocacy and the Feds’ Soviet suspicions.

Would you like to know more? Continue browsing the file via the request page. You can also access more of I.F. Stone’s Weekly, as well as other writings and speeches on the website of I.F. Stone.

The first section of the file is embedded below: