Subjects Matter: FBI Files

This project aims to sift through the hundreds of thousands of pages of FBI archival material we've released, so we can better understand why the Bureau had an eye on these people - and through that, better understand who they're keeping tabs on today.

Crowdfund the Subjects Matter: FBI Files Project

Share Embed Help

For every $50 raised, we’ll write up a file we already have, as well as request one we don’t have yet. If there’s a write-up or request you really want us to see, let us know at info@muckrock.com.

Backed by Phil Mocek, Chris Meller, Linda Tolbert, Courtney Selby, and 15 others.

$2,150.00 raised out of $5,000.00.

Embed Opening and closing brackets with a diagonal slash through the middle. Embed

Close

Success Thank you!

Subscribe to MuckRock’s newsletter:

Help this crowdfund find more supporters:

Error Error

An error occurred during payment (don't worry, your card has not been charged).

Refresh the page to try again. If the error persists, contact us.

Academics / Activists / Artists / Business Figures / Comedians / Criminals / Events Groups / FBI Programs / Film and Television / Government Officials / Journalists / Miscellaneous / Musicians / Politicians / Religious Figures / Scientists / Sports Figures / Writers

Timeline

Academics

Hannah Arendt

Paul Erdős

Phil S. Foner

Timothy Leary

William Masters

John Silber

Howard Zinn

Activists

Cesar Chavez 1, 2

Betty Friedan

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn

Thelma Glass

Abbie Hoffman 1, 2

James Hood

Rodney King

Matin Luther King, Jr.

Russell Means

Bayard Rustin 1, 2

Toshi Seeger

Margaret Sanger

Aaron Schwartz

John Trudell

Malcolm X 1, 2

Artists

Allen Ginsberg 1, 2

Ellsworth Kelly

Business Figures

Walt Disney 1, 2

Roger Fisher

Steve Jobs 1, 2

Burt Shavitz (Founder of Burt’s Bees)

George Wackethut

Comedians

George Carlin

Groucho Marx

Harpo Marx

Criminals

Charles Manson

Events/Groups

Anonymous

Aryan Brotherhood of Texas

Aryan Nations

Bank of Credit and Commerce International

Banco Ambrosiano

Boy Scouts of America

Breitbart News

Burning Man

Church of Satan

Church of the Hammer (Westboro Baptist Church Parody)

DEF CON

Disney World 1, 2

Earth Liberation Front

Food Not Bombs

Gamergate 1, 2

Greenpeace

Kl Klux Klan

Majestic-12

Mardi Gras

Mattachine Society

Occupy Wall Street

Scientology 1, 2, 3, 4

TSR Hobbies

Winter Hill Gang (Notorious Boston-based criminal organization)

FBI Programs

CACTUS

Technical Security Surveys 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Film and Television

Roger Ailes

Alfred Hitchcock

Dick Clark

Casey Kasem

Ethel Merman

Efram Zimbalist (Star of ABC’s The FBI)

Government Officials

James Angleton 1, 2

Edwin Black

William F. Buckley (CIA Station Chief in Lebanon)

Smedley Darlington Butler

Cartha “Deke” DeLoach

Jim Garrison

Alexander Haig

Miguel Narzar Haro (Mexican spymaster) 1, 2

Richard Helms

J Edgar Hoover 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

C. Everett Koop (Flamboyant Surgeon General during the Reagan Presidency)

Robert Mullen

Journalists

Jack Anderson 1, 2

Ben Bradlee

Helen Gurley Brown

Danny Casolaro 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

David Frost

Michael Hasting

Warren Hinckle

Clark Kent

Gavin MacFadyen

Edward R. Murrow

Izzy Stone

Hunter S. Thompson

Joe Trento

Miscellaneous

Irving Adler (Serviceman who shared name with prominent activist)

Stig Bergling (Swedish Soviet Spy)

Vincent Bugliosi (Attorney who prosecuted Charles Manson)

Fred Lee Crisman (Figure at the center of many 20th century conspiracies)

Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton (Philanthropist and “prolific instigator”)

John Hinckley Sr. (Father of Reagan shooter)

Edward Lee Howard (CIA defector)

Loyd Jowers (Found culpable for Martin Luther King Jr. assassination)

Sergei Kourdakov 1, 2

Fritz Kuhn (Leader of the German-American Bund)

Mikhail Lesin

Oleg Lyalin

Jordan MacTaggart (American anarchist who died fighting ISIS in Syria)

Hunter Moore (Founder of revenge porn site IsAnyoneUp)

Yuri Nosenko (Soviet Defector)

Barney Rosset (Avant-garde book publisher)

Andrew Carter Thornton II (Cocaine cowboy)

Musicians

Johnny Cash 1, 2

Elvis

Whitney Houston

KISS

John Lennon 1, 2

Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Insane Clown Posse 1, 2, 3

Biggie Smalls

Tupac Shakur

Politicians

Bella Abzug

Lady Diana

Samuel Dickstein (Alleged Soviet spy)

Vo Nguyen Giap (General known as the “Red Napoleon” of Vietnam)

Sir Robert Maxwell

Bess Myerson (First Jewish Miss America and New York commissioner)

Richard Nixon

Vang Pao

Jack Shelley

Margaret Thatcher

Kevin White

Eric Williams

Religious Figures

Paul Crouch

L. Ron Hubbard 1, 2

Fred Phelps

Sun Myung Moon

Scientists

Isaac Asimov

Neil Armstrong

Hans Bethe

Richard Feynman 1, 2, 3

Carl Sagan

Nikola Tesla 1, 2

Sports Figures

Muhammad Ali

Daniel Duchaine

Dale Earnhardt, Sr.

Writers

James Baldwin 1, 2

Ray Bradbury

William F. Buckley

Truman Capote

Tom Clancy

Ernest Hemingway

Christopher Hitchens

Aldous Huxley

Ken Kesey

Norman Mailer

Dorothy Parker

Ayn Rand 1, 2, 3

Susan Sontag

Terry Southern

Gore Vidal

Timeline

213 Articles

Recently released evidence shows FBI may have investigated Casolaro’s death through 2017

Recently released evidence shows FBI may have investigated Casolaro’s death through 2017

Following a FOIA appeal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released ten new pages of their investigation into links between the PROMIS scandal, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, and the mysterious death of Danny Casolaro. FOIA lawyers and experts are divided as to whether this new release implies the Bureau previously improperly cited the “open investigation” exemption, or whether it had stopped being applicable between the initial FOIA response and the appeal.

Read More

Ernest Hemingway's death significantly improved his relationship with the FBI

Ernest Hemingway’s death significantly improved his relationship with the FBI

As we’ve written about before, Ernest Hemingway’s relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation would charitably be described as “strained.” Hemingway would tell anybody who’d listen that he thought the Bureau were a bunch of Nazi mediocrities, and the FBI in turn dismissed Hemingway as a drunken phony. As his file shows, however, all of that changed when Hemingway finally did something the Bureau agreed with: he died.

Read More

Shirley, the lady on a lifelong first-name basis with the FBI

Shirley, the lady on a lifelong first-name basis with the FBI

Among the many fans the child star earned as the Curly Top cutie was one of the most notoriously tough G-Men in the whole law enforcement apparatus: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, himself.

Read More

Explore over a century of FBI history with our new and improved timeline

Explore over a century of FBI history with our new and improved timeline

Back in 2016, MuckRock celebrated our 100th article in our ongoing project to release the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files on prominent figures with an interactive timeline of the FBI’s history. Now, over a 100 articles and thousands of pages later, we’re launching a new and improved version of the timeline, making it easier than ever to explore who and what the Bureau was investigating, and when they were doing it.

Read More

Throughout the '50s, the FBI hung on Dorothy Parker's every word

Throughout the ‘50s, the FBI hung on Dorothy Parker’s every word

After a little over two years of processing, the National Archives and Records Administration has released the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files on the writer Dorothy Parker - the first time those files have been made public since the FBI removed them from their FOIA reading room over a decade ago.

Read More

The FBI protects Superman's secret identity from FOIA

The FBI protects Superman’s secret identity from FOIA

Included in the most recent batch of Federal Bureau of Investigation records regarding the Church of Scientology is the script for a play written by COS’s Ministry of Public Relations in order to counter the “inflammatory statements” being made by a “dissident church member.” Making light of what they call the “comic book flair” of the rogue ex-Scientologist’s claims, the play consists of an interview between him and “the greatest reporter of them all,” Superman’s alter-ego, Clark Kent - whose secret identity is safe, thanks to the Bureau’s redaction.

Read More

FBI's investigation into Mikhail Lesin's death doesn't contradict accidental death narrative

FBI’s investigation into Mikhail Lesin’s death doesn’t contradict accidental death narrative

The official record on the 2015 death of Mikhail Lesin deems the event an accident, the result of falling and suffering a number of “blunt force injuries” in his hotel room after a days-long alcohol binge. But while others have cast doubt on that account, attributing it to more nefarious external actors, materials released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation don’t contradict the accidental death determination.

Read More

FBI's investigation into #GamerGate included threats of "nuclear extortion"

FBI’s investigation into #GamerGate included threats of “nuclear extortion”

Back in 2014, MuckRock reported that a request for Federal Bureau of Investigation files on the online movement “#GamerGate” had been rejected on grounds there were ongoing criminal investigations. Several years later, the FBI released a heavily-redacted copy of that file, largely consisting of the Bureau looking to various death threats related to the movement. While details are scarce, a one point it appears as if the threats had escalated to full-blown nuclear retaliation.

Read More

FBI investigated early LGBT organization for alleged Communist ties

FBI investigated early LGBT organization for alleged Communist ties

At the height of the Cold War, an informant’s tips resulted in the Federal Bureau of Investigation looking into the then newly-formed LGBT organization, the Mattachine Society and their publication ONE Magazine. The FBI was concerned that the organization was pro-Communist and had been publishing articles detailing allegations of unfair government discrimination and entrapment by police departments.

Read More

UPDATED: Help release the FBI files on the Black Panther informant involved in the murder of Fred Hampton

UPDATED: Help release the FBI files on the Black Panther informant involved in the murder of Fred Hampton

In response to a FOIA request for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s files on Black Panther informant William O’Neal, the Bureau located over 7,000 pages. But actually releasing the documents will cost a duplication fee of $250. You can chip in and help.

Read More

Why did Ayn Rand share this aspiring filmmaker's screenplay with the FBI?

Why did Ayn Rand share this aspiring filmmaker’s screenplay with the FBI?

A heavily-redacted portion of Ayn Rand’s Federal Bureau of Investigation file documents an investigation into a mysterious screenplay sent to the author. An inventor reached out to Rand, hoping for help in getting the Hollywood treatment for his life’s story. What was in that life story caused her to call the FBI.

Read More

FBI releases catalog of Nikola Tesla's writings seized after his death

FBI releases catalog of Nikola Tesla’s writings seized after his death

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has released an additional 64 pages of previously-processed material regarding the scientist Nikola Tesla, including a catalog of his papers seized by the U.S. government after his death in 1943.

Read More

FBI investigated a pair of Bureau impersonators at Disney World

FBI investigated a pair of Bureau impersonators at Disney World

Files originally released to Jason Smathers show that in the Summer of 1989, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Tampa office launched a brief investigation into reports that two individuals that identified themselves as FBI agents to Walt Disney World maintenance workers. How were staff able to determine that these two weren’t legitimate G-men? Well, at least one of the perpetrators was wearing shorts and a tank top.

Read More

For International Women's Day, browse the FBI files of famous females

For International Women’s Day, browse the FBI files of famous females

One unexpected fringe benefit of a surveillance state is that it can make for a surprisingly comprehensive biographer. To commemorate International Women’s Day at MuckRock, we put together a collection of all of our articles on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s forays into the lives of prominent women over the decades.

Read More

FBI file on controversial steroid guru Daniel Duchaine reveal his skill at evading the authorities

FBI file on controversial steroid guru Daniel Duchaine reveal his skill at evading the authorities

Author of the “Underground Steroid Handbook,” Daniel Duchaine is a controversial figure in the bodybuilding world, once described as a “cross between Andy Kaufman and Albert Einstein, with some Bart Simpson thrown in.” A recent release of Federal Bureau of Investigation records on Duchaine reveal him as not only an expert on masking the use of anabolic steroids in athletes, but also an expert at masking their trafficking from the FBI.

Read More

Nine reasons to love Bella Abzug

Nine reasons to love Bella Abzug

Loving Bella Abzug is easy - unless you’re in the Central Intelligence Agency or Federal Bureau of Investigation. Then she was a dangerous leftist who needed to be monitored. Here are several reasons why she should be your nonproblematic fav, based on her FBI file and documents in CIA’s declassified archive.

Read More

The Cold War comes to Cornell: The FBI's fight to safeguard Hans Bethe's atomic secrets

The Cold War comes to Cornell: The FBI’s fight to safeguard Hans Bethe’s atomic secrets

After World War II, the grandfather of the atomic bomb, Hans Bethe, returned to the quiet college town of Ithaca, New York to resume his research. International spies, intent on reshaping the global balance of power, would soon follow.

Read More

FBI's interest in Truman Capote was limited to his support for Cuba

FBI’s interest in Truman Capote was limited to his support for Cuba

The Federal Bureau of Investigation never conducted an investigation focused on acclaimed author Truman Capote, who was at work on his classic In Cold Blood when his name first appeared in the Bureau’s files. Though the agency declined to look into direct requests related to the writer’s safety and reputation, his file nevertheless stretches over 100 pages, in no small part because he was among those who supported, for a time, the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.

Read More

Ahead of Watergate, J. Edgar Hoover gave Richard Nixon’s campaign political intelligence warning of an emerging Democratic conspiracy

Ahead of Watergate, J. Edgar Hoover gave Richard Nixon’s campaign political intelligence warning of an emerging Democratic conspiracy

A month and a half before the White House Plumbers unit was established, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover contributed the paranoia that would lead to the Watergate affair when he passed political intelligence to a senior member of the Richard Nixon White House and Nixon reelection campaign. According to Hoover’s intelligence, a conspiracy was emerging between several key Democrats, the media, and a former senior FBI official. Hoover’s source for this deep state conspiracy? A rumor from a friend, two of Hoover’s critics speaking to each other, and a misrepresentation of the facts.

Read More

The FBI interviewed Roger Ailes in connection to the Reagan shooting

The FBI interviewed Roger Ailes in connection to the Reagan shooting

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made an initial release of its files on television executive Roger Ailes. Consisting largely of glowing background checks for a potential Presidential appointment under Richard Nixon, two interesting details have emerged from the file - the first is a 1974 arrest for felony firearms possession and the second is a brief interview documenting the minor role Ailes played in the FBI’s investigation into John Hinckley, Jr. following the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.

Read More

Read the FBI's guide to Mardi Gras

Read the FBI’s guide to Mardi Gras

In response to a FOIA request, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has released several years worth of Special Event Threat Assessments regarding Mardi Gras, which as the Bureau repeatedly reminds us “literally means ‘Fat Tuesday’.” These mostly redacted reports warn of potential danger from religious fundamentalists, white supremacists, and, oddly enough, Occupy Mardi Gras

Read More

FBI investigated decades of allegations against Scientology, both foreign and domestic

FBI investigated decades of allegations against Scientology, both foreign and domestic

Recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation files, obtained in the ongoing lawsuit against the Bureau brought by the author and represented pro bono by Dan Novack, describe several investigations into the Church of Scientology, both foreign and domestic.

Read More

Zoinks! Casey Kasem and the FBI versus Negativland

Zoinks! Casey Kasem and the FBI versus Negativland

A deep dive into our archive of Federal Bureau of Investigation files released through FOIA reveal that radio and TV personality Casey Kasem - better known as the voice of Shaggy in Scooby Doo - involved the Bureau in his infamous feud with the band Negativlandhe threatened to sue them for releasing a track of recordings of him swearing.

Read More

FBI cites mystery FOIA exemption to withhold Danny Casolaro death video

FBI cites mystery FOIA exemption to withhold Danny Casolaro death video

As part of the investigation into the death of journalist Danny Casolaro, the local police created a videotaped “reenactment” of his alleged suicide. The tape was used later to help an expert conclude the death was a suicide, and then seized along with the other evidence by the federal government. In response to a FOIA request for a copy of the tape, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has declared that it’s exempt from release - but won’t say why.

Read More

A counterintelligence success years in the making was framed as a lucky break fueled by drunk driving

A counterintelligence success years in the making was framed as a lucky break fueled by drunk driving

The Federal Bureau of Investigation file on Oleg Lyalin offers new insight into what’s been called “the single biggest action taken against Moscow by any western government” - the 1971 expulsion of dozens of Soviet personnel. According to the narrative established at the time, and repeated even in recent publications, Lyalin’s defection “led to the discovery and deportation of 105 Soviet officials who were accused of spying in Britain” and was prompted by a drunk driving arrest. As his FBI file shows, however, the real story is more complicated than that and has long been one of MI-5’s closely held secrets.

Read More

A Black History Month FBI file reader

A Black History Month FBI file reader

One unexpected fringe benefit of a surveillance state is that it can make for a surprisingly comprehensive biographer. To kick off Black History Month at MuckRock, we put together a collection of all of our articles on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s forays into the lives of prominent African-Americans over the decades.

Read More

A tip about Scientology infiltrators led DEA to change their hiring practices

A tip about Scientology infiltrators led DEA to change their hiring practices

A newly released Federal Bureau of Investigation memo shows that the exposure of Scientology’s “Operation Snow White” and the resulting 1979 convictions didn’t end government concerns about Scientology infiltrators.

Read More

FBI teletype reveals a brief counterintelligence investigation into Scientology

FBI teletype reveals a brief counterintelligence investigation into Scientology

A recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation file from 1996 on the Church of Scientology shows that more than twenty years before Central Intelligence Agency accused WikiLeaks of being a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation received an official inquiry asking if the COS was one. The inquiry resulted in the FBI Director sending a priority teletype to the Washington and Los Angeles field offices, as well as CCing the Bangkok Legat that had passed on the inquiry.

Read More

The secret origin of J. Edgar Hoover's nickname

The secret origin of J. Edgar Hoover’s nickname

One of the lesser-known scandals associated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s most infamous Director, J. Edgar Hoover, is that for years, he answered to his childhod nickname, “Speed.” While various sources have attributed the name to everything from Hoover’s habit to talking quickly (allegedly to mask a stutter) to his swiftness on the football field (a sport he never played), an official FBI newsletter released to Russ Kick offers the official origin story.

Read More

While investigating a DOJ leak to the mafia, the FBI appear to have overlooked a known mafia mole at the telephone company

While investigating a DOJ leak to the mafia, the FBI appear to have overlooked a known mafia mole at the telephone company

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s file on telephone security measures appears to show the Bureau overlooking an obvious line of inquiry while investigating a leak to the mafia and possible tapped phone lines. While the file indicates that the Bureau checked both the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service’s phones for taps, it indicates they may have overlooked the most obvious possibility: that the culprit was the phone company employee who’d been giving the mafia access to the phone lines.

Read More

The FBI file of Bureau's lead investigator in the  Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination makes little mention of his efforts

The FBI file of Bureau’s lead investigator in the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination makes little mention of his efforts

As the third highest ranking official in the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Cartha “Deke” DeLoach worked some of the Bureau’s biggest cases, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. assassination. However, you wouldn’t know that if you were just going off DeLoach’s own FBI file, which has more about his cholesterol levels in 1968 than leads on the civil rights leader’s murder.

Read More

FBI file documents the fall of would-be American Führer, Fritz Kuhn

FBI file documents the fall of would-be American Führer, Fritz Kuhn

After going to prison for embezzling a paltry sum from the German-American Bund, the would-be Führer Fritz Kuhn came up with a plot to con his way into a shorter sentence - only to have it fell apart because his supposed patsy turned him into the FBI.

Read More

Incidents from the CIA archives and his FBI file underscore Bayard Rustin's complexity

Incidents from the CIA archives and his FBI file underscore Bayard Rustin’s complexity

From defending the man who had blackmailed him out of the Southern Christian Leadership Council to serving as a character witness for Ariel Sharon, records from the Central Intelligence Agency and his Federal Bureau of Investigation file show civil rights icon Bayard Rustin was a man who couldn’t easily be categorized.

Read More

The Atomic Space Bug: FBI files show a wiretapped phone was found at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's predecessor

The Atomic Space Bug: FBI files show a wiretapped phone was found at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s predecessor

According to Federal Bureau of Investigation files, a few months before it was abolished, a bug was discovered in the Honolulu offices of the Atomic Energy Commission. The device would not only let someone listen in on phone calls, but any conversations held around the phone - even when it wasn’t in use.

Read More

Why was Richard Nixon's FBI application rejected?

Why was Richard Nixon’s FBI application rejected?

Richard Nixon’s unsuccessful 1937 application to be a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation is a fairly well-known bit of presidential trivia. But as the Bureau’s own records show, answering the obvious corollary - why wasn’t Nixon FBI material - isn’t so easy.

Read More

LBJ’s “hullabaloo” made the FBI decide to avoid doing security checks for Congress

LBJ’s “hullabaloo” made the FBI decide to avoid doing security checks for Congress

In June 1956, Lyndon B. Johnson caused a “hullabaloo” over the search search of a Senator’s office conducted by Department of Defense security officers who were looking for a potential listening device. Johnson caused such a stink that the Federal Bureau of Investigation decided to avoid helping the Senate with security issues lest they be subject to unnecessary scandal the way the DOD security officers were.

Read More

When it came to the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover was both a source and ‘fact checker’ for the media

When it came to the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover was both a source and ‘fact checker’ for the media

In a recent response to a FOIA request on Rudolf Abel and the Hollow Nickel case, the Federal Bureau of Investigation included a 13 page section describing the FBI’s assistance to an author writing a series of articles about the Bureau. At least some of the articles appear to have been based on the film “The FBI Story,” which FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reportedly had a strong hand in the production of, including prompting reshoots.

Read More

FBI file indicates the Bureau had better information sharing with phone companies than with the White House

FBI file indicates the Bureau had better information sharing with phone companies than with the White House

A FOIA release of Federal Bureau of Investigation’s file on counter-surveillance includes an entry describing the White House’s 1954 report that their phones had been tapped. According to the file, the FBI and the phone companies shared more information with each other than with the White House - and they wanted to keep it that way in order to protect the phone company’s reputation and the FBI’s methods.

Read More

FBI cites pending proceedings in 25-year old BCCI bank fraud case

FBI cites pending proceedings in 25-year old BCCI bank fraud case

Decades after the fact, both the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation remain highly secretive about parts of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International money laundering and embezzling investigation and the story of Khalid bin Mahfouz. While the FBI released some documents on Bin Mahfouz and BCCI, with portions remaining redacted under citations of a pending law enforcement proceedings, the CIA flatly refuses to confirm or deny any information on Bin Mahfouz, despite a former CIA Director having publicly (and falsely) accused him of being Osama bin Laden’s brother-in-law.

Read More

In the early '90s, Scientology tried to dictate to the FBI what information could be released about them through FOIA

In the early ‘90s, Scientology tried to dictate to the FBI what information could be released about them through FOIA

A recent Federal Bureau of Investigation FOIA release prompted by the author’s lawsuit, shows that between 1990 and 1994, the President of the Church of Scientology International sent the FBI a series of letters instructing the Bureau on what records Scientology felt the FBI was entitled to keep or to release through FOIA.

Read More

FBI file shows just how easy it was for governments to listen in each other's phone calls in the '50s

FBI file shows just how easy it was for governments to listen in each other’s phone calls in the ‘50s

A heavily redacted section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s file on Technical Security Surveys shows just how easy it was for embassies to tap government phones in the mid-’50s. After discovering that the French were listening in on the White House, the FBI to uncovered dozens of phone lines belonging to the governments of American allies that were vulnerable to Communist governments. While securing these lines, a phone tap on the Soviet United Nations delegation had to be pulled - leaving the Bureau with no choice but to go through the Italian embassy.

Read More

Even to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Muhammad Ali was "untouchable"

Even to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Muhammad Ali was “untouchable”

An incident from Muhammad Ali’s Federal Bureau of Investigation file shows that no less that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover himself doubted the Bureau’s ability to get charges against Ali to stick.

Read More

What L. Ron Hubbard’s son said about Scientology and the KGB

What L. Ron Hubbard’s son said about Scientology and the KGB

A recent FBI FOIA release prompted by the author’s lawsuit shows that in early 1985, L. Ron Hubbard’s son Ronald DeWolf wrote the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division a letter detailing a number of accusations - including Scientology’s alleged, and unsubstantiated, KGB connection, and that his father had once asked him to steal a hydrogen bomb.

Read More

FBI appears to have investigated - and considered prosecuting - FOIA requesters

FBI appears to have investigated - and considered prosecuting - FOIA requesters

A recent FOIA release shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director’s Office responded to FOIA requests for known files on deceased FBI officials by presenting options that seemingly included a law enforcement investigation/proceeding against the requesters, with one email calling the requests “SUSPICIOUS.”

Read More

The interagency CACTUS program served as the conduit between CIA’s Operation CHAOS and FBI’s COINTELPRO

The interagency CACTUS program served as the conduit between CIA’s Operation CHAOS and FBI’s COINTELPRO

A little known but extremely important part of the history of domestic surveillance by intelligence agencies is the CACTUS program. CACTUS was a highly classified channel used by agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to transmit information about “the New Left, Black Militants and related matters.” This channel was never disclosed in the Church Committee reports, even when the reports discuss information that was transmitted through CACTUS.

Read More

FBI leadership claimed Bureau was “almost powerless” against KKK, despite making up one-fifth of its membership

FBI leadership claimed Bureau was “almost powerless” against KKK, despite making up one-fifth of its membership

In testimony before the Church Committee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Deputy Director acknowledged that the Bureau at one point made up as much as one-fifth of the Klu Klux Klan’s total membership - but were still powerless to curtail the KKK’s violence. His testimony also acknowledged police participation in Klan violence, and that the Bureau had three times as many “ghetto informants” as they did those targeting white supremacist domestic terrorists.

Read More

FBI evidence points to journalist Jack Anderson's role in Watergate

FBI evidence points to journalist Jack Anderson’s role in Watergate

Evidence compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation files, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s notes, and statements from Deep Throat, along with Congressional testimony and the files of Senate investigators, all implicate journalist Jack Anderson as having helped set up Watergate - or at least having foreknowledge of it and benefiting from it.

Read More

FBI releases first part of its files on Charles Manson

FBI releases first part of its files on Charles Manson

After nearly half a century as one of the most notorious criminal masterminds in the popular imagination, Charles Manson, 83, passed away last month in a Kern County hospital bed. On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released the first part of its files on the famed cult leader, which focuses primarily on the confusion following the August 1969 murders that made him famous.

Read More

Five reasons Harpo Marx is my FBI file crush

Five reasons Harpo Marx is my FBI file crush

As part of an ongoing series on MuckRock staff’s infatuation with figures from the Federal Bureau of Investigation file project, Caitlin Russell lists five reasons why Bureau surveillance records shows there’s room for just one Marx in her life. Well, two.

Read More

FBI file reveals numerous contradictions in the curious case of Sergei Kourdakov

FBI file reveals numerous contradictions in the curious case of Sergei Kourdakov

Shortly before he was set to testify before Congress, Soviet defector Sergei Kourdakov’s “accidentally” committed suicide with a gun the Central Intelligence Agency allegedly told him to illegally get - and the Federal Bureau of Investigation refused to investigate.

Read More

The mysterious death of a Soviet defector with ties to alleged CIA-funded Christian group

The mysterious death of a Soviet defector with ties to alleged CIA-funded Christian group

Sergei Kourdakov’s story is controversial, unusual, and utterly unforgettable. From when the Soviet defector swam from a Russian trawler to Canada until his supposed accidental suicide with a gun a Central Intelligence Agency officer allegedly told him to illegally get shortly before he would testify before Congress, his tale is straight out of a pulp fiction spy thriller - with an evangelical twist complete with bible smugglers who may have had CIA ties of their own.

Read More

Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was being investigated by the FBI while, unbeknownst to the Bureau, he was working for the CIA

Bayard Rustin was many things: He was a key organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, an advocate for Soviet Jewry, and, “a convicted homosexual,” according to his Federal Bureau of Investigation file. Despite being what many would consider a textbook lefty, Rustin also moonlighted for the Central Intelligence Agency. While that might seem like an irreconcilable contradiction for a man who sat in prison for two years because he refused to serve in World War II, but contradictions aren’t there to be reconciled, they’re there to confound.

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover once called the Bill of Rights "literature favorable to Russia and in opposition to the U.S. foreign policy."

J. Edgar Hoover once called the Bill of Rights “literature favorable to Russia and in opposition to the U.S. foreign policy.”

A recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation file shows that then-director J. Edgar Hoover personally wrote to the head of the Internal Revenue Service to complain about the tax exempt status of pro-peace groups, alleging they were led by ‘concealed Communists’ and that they sent out “literature favorable to Russia and in opposition to the U.S. foreign policy” - literature such as the Bill of Rights.

Read More

Recently released FBI files show L. Ron Hubbard offering to inform on his own organization

Recently released FBI files show L. Ron Hubbard offering to inform on his own organization

Recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation files show that just over a year after L. Ron Hubbard created the the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation, a precursor to the Church of Scientology, he offered to become an informant for the Bureau, and provide the FBI with a list of its members and copies of their fingerprints.

Read More

FBI file shows what the Bureau thought of a young Joe Trento

FBI file shows what the Bureau thought of a young Joe Trento

In 1968, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had a run-in with a young Joe Trento early in his reporting career. According to the FBI’s version of events, it didn’t go well.

Read More

U.S. Naval Intelligence tasked FBI with digging up dirt on Eric Williams to sway Trinidadian elections

U.S. Naval Intelligence tasked FBI with digging up dirt on Eric Williams to sway Trinidadian elections

A FOIA request to the National Archives from early 2015 has finally yielded the Federal Bureau of Investigation file on historian and first prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Eric Williams. In addition to the FBI monitoring Williams during his tenure at Howard University, the file contains reports from Naval Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency, who closely monitored his shift from academia into politics, including a request by Naval Intelligence that the FBI gather embarrassing personal details from William’s ex-wife in an attempt to hurt his chances during an election.

Read More

Please stop asking J. Edgar Hoover about Nikola Tesla's death ray

Please stop asking J. Edgar Hoover about Nikola Tesla’s death ray

Files posted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s FOIA reading show that for over 20 years, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had to politely clarify that the Bureau was in fact, not in possession of Nikola Tesla’s plans for a death ray.

Read More

The mystery of disgraced CIA spymaster James Angleton's "retirement"

The mystery of disgraced CIA spymaster James Angleton’s “retirement”

Soon after legendary spymaster and CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton’s intelligence career supposedly ended with his forced retirement in December 1974 due to the exposure of CIA wrongdoing, he returned to the Agency, where counterintelligence operations reportedly remained under his purview until late 1975.

Read More

CIA's asset in Mexico was architect of some of the worst atrocities of the Dirty War

CIA’s asset in Mexico was architect of some of the worst atrocities of the Dirty War

Mexico’s “Dirty War,” nestled in the middle of what the Central Intelligence Agency called a period of “stability” for the country was carried out in part by their asset Miguel Nazar Haro and his secret police. Nazar would later be arrested for his role in the “disappearance” of 1,200 dissidents, and investigated for torture, murder, and even genocide, all while working with, and protected by, the CIA.

Read More

Mexican spymaster’s car theft ring shows CIA’s tolerance for corruption

Mexican spymaster’s car theft ring shows CIA’s tolerance for corruption

When Mexican spymaster Miguel Nazar Haro was implicated in a car theft ring operating in both the United States and Mexico, the Central Intelligence Agency moved to prevent prosecution of one of their most valuable assets. As the ensuing investigation revealed, however, the web of corruption surrounding Nazar connected to more than just grand theft auto, with ties to narcotics trafficking, the torture and disappearance of numerous dissidents, and at the murder of a DEA Agent.

Read More

Fleeing marijuana possession charges, Ken Kesey successfully hid from the FBI ... in Marijuana City, Mexico

Fleeing marijuana possession charges, Ken Kesey successfully hid from the FBI … in Marijuana City, Mexico

The FBI spent the summer of 1966 playing cat-and-mouse with beatnik icon Ken Kesey after he fled the country to avoid prosecution for two charges of marijuana possession.

Read More

From national security threat to J. Edgar Hoover's pal - the FBI file of California congressman Jack Shelley

From national security threat to J. Edgar Hoover’s pal - the FBI file of California congressman Jack Shelley

Labor organizer, Californian congressman, and mayor of San Francisco John Francis “Jack” Shelley is typically cited among the most prominent figures on J. Edgar Hoover’s “Emergency Detention” list of “subversives” that were to be arrested if war with the Soviet Union became “inevitable.” However, as Shelley’s FBI file shows, being marked as a potential threat to the country didn’t stop Hoover and Shelly from enjoying a cordial, if not down downright friendly, relationship during the latter’s time on the Hill.

Read More

FBI investigated Gonzo godfather Warren Hinckle over IRA ties

FBI investigated Gonzo godfather Warren Hinckle over IRA ties

After decades as a West Coast leftist, Ramparts editor Warren Hinckle finally landed a place in the FBI’s files after his magazine ran a pro-IRA ad and credited a Michigan Senator for its creation.

Read More

FBI reported that Juggalos were "holding their own" in gang war with MS-13

FBI reported that Juggalos were “holding their own” in gang war with MS-13

Earlier this month, Insane Clown Posse fans marched on Washington D.C. to protest the FBI’s 2011 designation of Juggalos as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang.” However, Bureau files show that ICP first came on the FBI’s radar three years earlier, when the Bureau threat assessment of the annual Gathering of the Juggalos included allegations that the Family was engaged in a full-on turf war with MS-13.

Read More

Breitbart News' FBI file details how site accidentally DDoS’d itself … but withholds over a thousand pages

Breitbart News’ FBI file details how site accidentally DDoS’d itself … but withholds over a thousand pages

On January 17, 2016, the alt-right news site Breitbart found itself under siege: A number of IP addresses were sending a large amount of traffic its way, straining its servers. Writing to the FBI two days later with the subject line “Request for assistance,” someone (identity redacted) shared the source of the IP addresses and asked that the FBI “explore the possibility that the identity of the criminal … be identified from this fingerprint.” It turns out, it was an inside job.

Read More

Truman Capote's publisher tried to get the FBI to vouch for writer's "In Cold Blood" investigation

Truman Capote’s publisher tried to get the FBI to vouch for writer’s “In Cold Blood” investigation

FBI files on publisher Bennett Cerf show the Random House co-founder trying to use his leverage with the Bureau to get them to vouch for author Truman Capote’s investigation into the 1959 Clutter murders, which would eventually become the seminal true crime novel In Cold Blood.

Read More

FBI couldn't get a clear picture on abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly

FBI couldn’t get a clear picture on abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly spent nearly all of his 92 years creating geometrically-concerned works of abstract and colorful art - a focus he tuned for some time as a Camouflage Technician for the U.S. Army during World War II. But when he applied to participate in the European Recovery Program - popularly known as the Marshall Plan - he generated 50-odd pages in the files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, not for his military exploits but for concerns that an art school friendship might have been something more.

Read More

The General, the FBI, and the fascist plot to overthrow democracy (that nobody cared about)

The General, the FBI, and the fascist plot to overthrow democracy (that nobody cared about)

As hordes of white men with dopey haircuts take to the streets to denouce progress, it’s worth taking a look at a moment in American history when a bunch of rich dudes attempted to turn the country in a fascist dictatorship through overt violence, before they realized they could just hijack the electoral system - the story of General Smedley Darlington Butler and the Business Plot.

Read More

"Sarcasm" is an acceptable defense for attempted regicide in Lady Diana's FBI file

“Sarcasm” is an acceptable defense for attempted regicide in Lady Diana’s FBI file

Diana, Princess of Wales, died twenty years ago this month. Her surprisingly slight FBI file, released via the Bureau’s FOIA reading room, covers two separate investigations into possible threats against her life. It includes someone “sarcastically” claiming they mailed her and Charles a bomb as a wedding present.

Read More

Jim Garrison’s incendiary JFK probe protected him from fraud charges

Jim Garrison’s incendiary JFK probe protected him from fraud charges

While popular media has often portrayed Jim Garrison, the New Orleans District Attorney behind the infamous Clay Shaw trial, as having been targeted by the federal government for retribution, a look at his FBI file reveals the exact opposite - according to the documents, Garrison’s investigation was considered so toxic and aggressive that Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered no agents have any contact with him. When third parties began providing the FBI with evidence that Garrison had engaged in fraud against the government, the Bureau cautioned against investigating him, precisely because of how Garrison would inevitably frame it.

Read More

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

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

With a career spanning the early decades of the Bureau’s existence and a list of acquaintances that could have passed as an FBI radicals watchlist, I.F. Stone was a well-established person of interest to the federal government.

Read More

FBI investigated General with ties to CIA money laundering for ... being a librarian

FBI investigated General with ties to CIA money laundering for … being a librarian

Brigadier General Edwin Black is best known for his role in the Nugan-Hand scandal, in which the Australian bank was accused of being used by the Central Intelligence Agency for narcotics and arms trafficking and money laundering purposes. To learn more about the scandal, Emma Best filed FOIA requests for all the people associated with it, and General Black’s file reveald two things: First, the FBI file’s only mention of his ties to Nugan-Hand is in the form of a Wall Street Journal clipping. Second, Hoover’s FBI briefly investigated him for being a librarian.

Read More

Ernest Hemingway, the FBI, and the aborted duel

Ernest Hemingway, the FBI, and the aborted duel

FBI files on Ernest Hemingway document the author’s late-life feud with a New Zealand journalist in Cuba that apparently came close to causing an international incident - and led to the 55-year old Hemingway being challenged to a duel.

Read More

Russell Means' FBI file offers a day-by-day account of the American Indian Movement's occupation of Wounded Knee

Russell Means’ FBI file offers a day-by-day account of the American Indian Movement’s occupation of Wounded Knee

Russell Means was a seminal figure in Indigenous politics for decades, rising to the rank of National Director of the American Indian Movement in 1970. His 178 page FBI file, however, only includes records regarding one incident Means was involved in - the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee, a months-long standoff between AIM activists carrying small arms, and local and federal law enforcement packing 133,000 rounds of ammunition, armored personnel carriers, and .50 caliber machine guns.

Read More

The FBI considered charging the American Indian Movement's John Trudell with "Insurrection"

The FBI considered charging the American Indian Movement’s John Trudell with “Insurrection”

To mark the 49th anniversary this week of the founding of the American Indian Movement (AIM), we’re taking a look at the FBI files of John Trudell, esteemed Santee Dakota poet, writer, speaker, and musician who was a key member of AIM, rising to the rank of National Chairman by the mid seventies. To the Bureau, Trudell was a renowned “agitator,” but within his community he was a motivator who inspired Indigenous peoples across the nation to strive for a better life.

Read More

During the Vietnam War, FBI used the press as a cover to "avoid embarrassment" while surveilling protests

During the Vietnam War, FBI used the press as a cover to “avoid embarrassment” while surveilling protests

A memo from Howard Zinn’s FBI file shows how the Bureau relied on third-party contractors and press coverage to avoid scrutiny of its surveillance of Vietnam protestors.

Read More

FBI tried to fact check Norman Mailer's factoids about their role in Marilyn Monroe's death

FBI tried to fact check Norman Mailer’s factoids about their role in Marilyn Monroe’s death

FBI files released to Connor Skelding reveal that the Bureau was so sufficiently alarmed about author Norman Mailer’s accusations about their role in Marilyn Monroe’s death that they investigated if they had, in fact, wiretapped the actress phone. After determining they hadn’t, the Bureau considered getting Mailer to retract the claim - until they discovered he was just sort of making stuff up.

Read More

CIA abandoned logic to clear Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko

CIA abandoned logic to clear Soviet defector Yuri Nosenko

Eleven years before the House Select Committee on Assassinations declared they were “certain Yuri Nosenko lied about Lee Harvey Oswald,” the Central Intelligence Agency’s internal security report ignored evidence and abandoned logic to conclude that the Soviet defector was a trustworthy individual who hadn’t been sent over by the KGB.

Read More

FBI kept tabs on Aldous Huxley's dark vision of the future

FBI kept tabs on Aldous Huxley’s dark vision of the future

The FBI file of Aldous Huxley, released after a FOIA request by Joseph Lloyd, reveals that while the English author was never under official investigation, the Bureau found his dystopian view of the future interesting enough to follow him and take notes.

Read More

Sir Robert Maxwell's FBI file is getting more classified by the minute

Sir Robert Maxwell’s FBI file is getting more classified by the minute

Sir Robert Maxwell is mostly remembered as the Czech-born British media mogul who owned the Daily Mirror and was a Member of Parliament. Less remembered is that he was an alleged spy for both the U.K. and Israel, and was accused of ties to the Mossad abduction of Mordechai Vanunu - accusations which he denied shortly before his apparent suicide. All but forgotten, however, are his alleged ties to the PROMIS affair, thanks in no small part to the FBI withdrawing his file from public view.

Read More

Five surprises from Steve Jobs' FBI file

Five surprises from Steve Jobs’ FBI file

The release of Steve Jobs’ FBI file was one of MuckRock’s first big stories, and it even set the framework for what would become the Subjects Matter project. With the iPhone turning ten this week, here’s a look back at some of the most surprising finds from the Bureau’s investigation.

Read More

FBI investigated a group of  Dungeons and Dragons players as part of the Unabomber case

FBI investigated a group of Dungeons and Dragons players as part of the Unabomber case

FBI files released to CJ Ciaramella reveal that as that Bureau investigated a group of Dungeons and Dragons players as potential leads in the Unabomber case. A 1995 memo notes that the loosely-knit group of gamers were “armed and dangerous,” as well as “overweight and not neat in appearance.”

Read More

FBI investigated Ayn Rand superfan who saw himself as the heir apparent to her Objectivist philosophy

FBI investigated Ayn Rand superfan who saw himself as the heir apparent to her Objectivist philosophy

Ayn Rand had a competitor for status as the most dizzyingly incoherent and morally questionable writer of the 20th century: her stalker. FBI files released to Emma Best show that the unnamed man sent Rand dozens of mommy issue-riddled letters over the course of the late ’60s, some making threats on her life.

Read More

Washington insider wanted J. Edgar Hoover to leverage his friendship with Walt Disney so he'd produce religious cartoons

Washington insider wanted J. Edgar Hoover to leverage his friendship with Walt Disney so he’d produce religious cartoons

As we’ve written before, Walt Disney and J. Edgar Hoover enjoyed a decades-long professional and person friendship, with fringe benefits including union busting and free admission to Disneyland for FBI Agents. There were downsides, however - such as when one unnamed DC insider tried to leverage the Director’s relationship to pressure Disney into making religious cartoons.

Read More

Conspiracy Weary: FBI’s real-life "X-Files" document one of the Bureau’s laziest investigations

Conspiracy Weary: FBI’s real-life “X-Files” document one of the Bureau’s laziest investigations

The FBI file on Majestic-12 may be the Bureau’s most X-Filesy file of all - full of hoaxes, planted documents, and allegations of aliens. The Bureau, however, was essentially disinterested in the case, did no actual investigating, and barely pursued the very real crime that had been committed by forging government documents, only adding fuel to the suspicion that the papers were government sponsored, or at least tolerated, disinformation.

Read More

Five of the best lines from Allen Ginsberg's FBI file

Five of the best lines from Allen Ginsberg’s FBI file

In a fitting birthday tribute to the man the FBI deemed “bizarre, but not dangerous,” we rounded up the strangest lines from the Bureau’s security report - some of them poetry unto themselves.

Read More

The year before his murder, Malcolm X was under electronic surveillance by the FBI

The year before his murder, Malcolm X was under electronic surveillance by the FBI

The last section of Malcolm X’s 10,000 plus page FBI file concerns the Bureau’s electronic surveillance of the activist shortly before his death. For months, agents listened to X’s phone calls, photographed his comings and goings, and even considered bugging his Queens residence - only to hastily discontinue the operation for fear it would taint a potential conviction.

Read More

FBI file casts doubt on Bureau's investigation into the suspicious death of journalist Danny Casolaro

FBI file casts doubt on Bureau’s investigation into the suspicious death of journalist Danny Casolaro

The FBI file for the suspicious death of journalist Danny Casolaro is obviously incomplete, but does reveal several key things. First, the FBI’s sources contradicted what the DOJ would declare were the motives behind Casolaro’s “suicide.” Second, the file shows that the Bureau lied to members of Congress about not investigating Casolaro’s death. Third, documents show that the FBI agents who did investigate it questioned the conclusion of suicide, even though doing so was understood to be a threat to their careers.

Read More

Even being J. Edgar Hoover's bestie couldn't save Ethel Merman's jewelry

Even being J. Edgar Hoover’s bestie couldn’t save Ethel Merman’s jewelry

Actress Ethel Merman and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had a friendship spanning from 1938 until Hoover death in 1972. But personal insights aside, was there any benefits to being among the Bureau’s BFFs? According to the singer’s personal FBI file, to be rich in friends isn’t always enough to keep you in riches.

Read More

Dissent and Disloyalty: The FBI’s obsessive inquiry into Edward R. Murrow

Dissent and Disloyalty: The FBI’s obsessive inquiry into Edward R. Murrow

In the white heat of the Red Scare, journalists were often at the center of the unceasing national probe over patriotism. Over 700 pages of files on Edward R. Murrow detail the FBI’s intricate special inquiry into the legendary American newsman.

Read More

Ceci n'est pas une FBI Director

Ceci n’est pas une FBI Director

J. Edgar Hoover received a slew of accolades over his long career, but not all elicited the FBI Director’s enthusiastic response.

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover worked to end the career of a government clerk who had suggested he was gay

J. Edgar Hoover worked to end the career of a government clerk who had suggested he was gay

An incident from the height of J. Edgar Hoover’s reign as FBI Director illustrate the lengths the Bureau would go to squash rumors surrounding Hoover’s sexuality - and the dire consequences for those found spreading those rumors.

Read More

The strange death, and even stranger life of "Cocaine Cowboy" Andrew Carter Thornton II

The strange death, and even stranger life of “Cocaine Cowboy” Andrew Carter Thornton II

Andrew Carter Thornton II (ACT II) is a name unknown to most except as a piece of historical trivia - the man who fell from the sky in 1985 with millions of dollars of cocaine strapped to his body. To a few others, he’s one of the men tied to a drug operation that was fueling and fueled by government corruption, whose roots were traced as far as the Kentucky Governor’s mansion. But reality, revealed through his FBI file, is even stranger, tracing the corruption surrounding ACT II all the way back to the CIA.

Read More

Long before WikiLeaks, the FBI spent decades obsessing over Gavin MacFadyen

Long before WikiLeaks, the FBI spent decades obsessing over Gavin MacFadyen

FBI Records released by the National Archives confirm confidential informants were reporting on Gavin MacFadyen over forty years before WikiLeaks and the Courage Foundation - even providing the Bureau with some of MacFadyen’s correspondence and his address book.

Read More

Joint Terrorism Task Force shared intelligence on Aryan Nations, Anonymous … and Occupy Wall Street

Joint Terrorism Task Force shared intelligence on Aryan Nations, Anonymous … and Occupy Wall Street

Back in 2011, the FBI’s Memphis field office hosted an intelligence briefing for the local Joint Terrorism Task Force. Topics included the latest issue of Inspire magazine, “white powder” letters, and updates on the notorious domestic terror groups Aryan Nations, Anonymous, and Occupy Wall Street.

Read More

The most interesting part of Timothy Leary's FBI file is what isn't in it

The most interesting part of Timothy Leary’s FBI file is what isn’t in it

While the FBI file for Timothy Leary has several interesting pieces of information, what really stands out are some conspicuous - and revealing - absences.

Read More

Letter called on J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Groucho Marx over a joke

Letter called on J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Groucho Marx over a joke

For Groucho Marx, sharing a surname with the author of the Communist Manifesto wasn’t winning him any friends in Middle America at the height of the Red Scare, and his pathological inability to hold anything sacred wasn’t helping, either. But according to files released to Emma Best, where he finally crossed the line for one couple - leading to them calling on the FBI to investigate him immediately - was when he used the country’s name in vain.

Read More

FBI never investigated man court found culpable for Martin Luther King Jr. assassination

FBI never investigated man court found culpable for Martin Luther King Jr. assassination

While some aspects of the investigation into the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remain unknown to the public - such as NSA’s tracking of James Earl Ray - others are unknowable simply because they were never properly investigated. The most egregious example is Loyd Jowers, who in 1993 confessed to participating in an alleged conspiracy to, with the U.S. government and the mafia, kill Dr. King, and was found culpable in court. While the Department of Justice denied the veracity of these claims, the FBI, however, never investigated the matter and have no files on the man.

Read More

How the Texas prison system created a terror group: FBI files on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas

How the Texas prison system created a terror group: FBI files on the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas

FBI files on the White Nationalist group the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas describe how a policy of segregation helped turn a prison gang into a paramilitary organization of domestic terrorists.

Read More

The ATF once suggested that Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers Union bombed themselves

The ATF once suggested that Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers Union bombed themselves

When we first looked at Cesar Chavez’s FBI file, the Bureau was questioning the young labor organizer’s integrity. Decades later, a different Department of Justice component cast doubt on Chavez and the union he ran - even going so far as to suggest they had bombed themselves for the “publicity.”

Read More

Who Shot Ya?: Twenty years after the fact, the FBI still doesn't know who killed Biggie

Who Shot Ya?: Twenty years after the fact, the FBI still doesn’t know who killed Biggie

20 years later, a look at the FBI’s investigation into the infamous death of Christopher George Latore Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G. AKA Biggie Smalls offers some useful details - but not the important one.

Read More

FBI's predecessor considered obscenity charges against Margaret Sanger for soliciting donations

FBI’s predecessor considered obscenity charges against Margaret Sanger for soliciting donations

In late 1919, Margaret Sanger, founder of what would become Planned Parenthood, mailed out something familiar to anybody who’s worked in the non-profit world: an end of the year fundraising appeal. But whether Sanger knew it or not, records released by the National Archives show that on the receiving end of one of those letters were agents from the FBI’s predecessor trying to bust her for distributing obscene material.

Read More

The FBI and the mysterious death of "God's Banker"

The FBI and the mysterious death of “God’s Banker”

When an FBI file opens with a paragraph that describes the case “a most complex case involving foreign intrigue, murder and the highest echelons of the Vatican,” then you know have something interesting. That was just how the file for Banco Ambrosiano began.

Read More

How the FBI thwarted a non-existent plot to assassinate Margaret Thatcher

How the FBI thwarted a non-existent plot to assassinate Margaret Thatcher

February, 1981. In a smoky bar in Alexandria, Virginia, an FBI informant just happens to overhear a conversation that could change the course of the free world: a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. If that sounds a bit too contrived to be true, well, that might explain why the Bureau couldn’t find any evidence that it was.

Read More

While hunting Soviet spy, FBI feared angering Scientologists

While hunting Soviet spy, FBI feared angering Scientologists

A Priority Teletype from the FBI’s Legat in London to the Director outlined an interesting opportunity - the Bureau had been asked to help with a case involving Stig Bergling, a Swede who had apparently been spying for the Soviets, and a woman in the Tampa area might have information as to his whereabouts. There was just one snag - they were afraid it might lead to a confrontation with the Church of Scientology.

Read More

FBI fielded requests from churches seeking dirt on sexologist Dr. William Masters

FBI fielded requests from churches seeking dirt on sexologist Dr. William Masters

A request for FBI files on sexologists Masters and Johnson reveled that while the Bureau never investigated the duo, it did field several requests from concerned church groups seeking dirt.

Read More

B(7)e Mine: MuckRock's FBI file crushes

B(7)e Mine: MuckRock’s FBI file crushes

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, MuckRock staff is declassifying their infatuation with figures from our FBI Files project.

Read More

FBI investigated a death threat against women's rights activist Betty Friedan by Leon Trotsky

FBI investigated a death threat against women’s rights activist Betty Friedan by Leon Trotsky

As a prominent figure in the women’s liberation movement during the 1960s and 1970s, Betty Friedan was not without critics. And as her FBI file shows, on at least one occasion a scheduled speech resulted in a bomb threat mailed to her home.

Read More

File a FOIA for free in honor of Black History Month

File a FOIA for free in honor of Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, we’ll be accepting submissions and suggestions all week for new requests to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for prominent members of the African American community. Each suggestion will be submitted free-of-charge and made publicly available.

Read More

1977 report found the FBI had engaged in gross misconduct while surveilling Martin Luther King, Jr.

1977 report found the FBI had engaged in gross misconduct while surveilling Martin Luther King, Jr.

A report intended to clear the FBI of any wrongdoing in the Martin Luther King, Jr. murder investigation instead uncovered the extent to which Hoover’s Bureau had engaged in illicit, illegal activity in their personal vendetta against the civil rights leader.

Read More

From FBI reject to private warlord: the rise of George Wackenhut

From FBI reject to private warlord: the rise of George Wackenhut

He gave his name to what would become the biggest private detention company in the world. But he got his start over sixty years ago here at home in Hoover’s FBI. Meet George Wackenhut.

Read More

John Tower's FBI file reveals role in Iran-Contra cover-up

John Tower’s FBI file reveals role in Iran-Contra cover-up

A recently released copy of John Tower’s FBI file deals with long under-examined allegations that the Tower Commission, officially known as the President’s Special Review Board, was part of a whitewash for the Iran-Contra affair – which, it turns out, Senator Tower had personal connections to, along with a pivotal role in the 1980 “October Surprise.”

Read More

A century of surveillance: an interactive timeline of FBI investigations

A century of surveillance: an interactive timeline of FBI investigations

In celebration of our 100th article in the Subjects Matter: FBI Files Project, we put together a chronological guide to the work we’ve done so far, documenting over a century of fear and filing cabinets.

Read More

FBI attempted to retroactively use the PATRIOT Act to sidestep FOIA

FBI attempted to retroactively use the PATRIOT Act to sidestep FOIA

The passage of the PATRIOT Act has been decried as one of the most widespread attempts by the government to overreach in order to bypass the judicial and legislative restrictions that had otherwise been placed on it. The FBI file for former CIA Station Chief William F. Buckley details one such attempt, over a decade after his murder.

Read More

Richard Feynman put himself on the FBI's Do Not Call list

Richard Feynman put himself on the FBI’s Do Not Call list

Richard Feynman’s sprawling FBI file covers two-thirds of the legendary physicist’s career, from drama over his invitation to speak a Soviet science conference to an unnamed colleague citing his hobby of cracking safes at Los Alamos as evidence he was a “master of deception and enemy of America.” But the file stops abruptly in 1958, and for a very Feynmanian reason: Feynman asked them to.

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover feared a cabal of ultra-liberal economists with CIA ties would hijack the American economy

J. Edgar Hoover feared a cabal of ultra-liberal economists with CIA ties would hijack the American economy

A letter released via FOIA documents FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s private fears that a CIA-backed cabal of ultra-liberal reformist economists were plotting a takeover of the American economy.

Read More

FBI file offers insight into the CIA's "gentlemanly planner of assassinations," Richard Helms

FBI file offers insight into the CIA’s “gentlemanly planner of assassinations,” Richard Helms

The man who would climb the ranks of United States Intelligence, from his World War Two stint in the Office of Strategic Services to his post as Director of Central Intelligence for CIA to his appointment as ambassador to Iran, is remembered by the public for his secrecy, his lies, and his commitment to the cloak-and-dagger code of his agency - none of which, of course, appear (at least in the negative) in Helms’s FBI file.

Read More

FBI's real-life "X-Files" documents strange connection between UFOs and the JFK assassination

FBI’s real-life “X-Files” documents strange connection between UFOs and the JFK assassination

A request for FBI files on a figure at the center of dozens of 20th century conspiracy theories reveals a rare glimpse into the Bureau’s real-life “X-Files” - and tell a story of flying saucers and secret assassins stranger than anything on the show.

Read More

The FBI tried to bust Abbie Hoffman for publishing public records

The FBI tried to bust Abbie Hoffman for publishing public records

On what would have been the radical’s 80th birthday, we look back at one of the strangest incidents in Abbie Hoffman’s ten-thousand plus page FBI file: when they tried to bust him for the “anti-American” publishing of the government’s own records.

Read More

He's in charge: FBI file reveals Alexander Haig as architect of the Saturday Night Massacre

He’s in charge: FBI file reveals Alexander Haig as architect of the Saturday Night Massacre

As a fixture in both the civilian and military worlds of politics, the FBI file for General Alexander Haig promised to be quite interesting. Although much of the file focuses on standard background issues and threats against the general several new facts stand out. One section, in particular, sheds new light on the Watergate scandal and the ensuing Saturday Night Massacre.

Read More

The cringeworthy comedy of J. Edgar Hoover

The cringeworthy comedy of J. Edgar Hoover

A year before he died, J. Edgar Hoover tried something he hadn’t done before in his nearly five decades as FBI director. He tried to be funny.

Read More

FBI files on John Lennon's New Left turn up foul-mouthed parrots and bad b.o.

FBI files on John Lennon’s New Left turn up foul-mouthed parrots and bad b.o.

Part of an ongoing investigation into John Lennon, FBI files show informants infiltrated antiwar groups and documented in detail their nefarious activities - even if that activity was training a parrot to swear.

Read More

Five of the most embarrassing uses of FBI resources

Five of the most embarrassing uses of FBI resources

Earlier this week, we looked at how the FBI spent two years hot on the heels of a bloodthirsty cult, only to find out it didn’t exist. Inspired by this magnificent waste of time and money, we decided to round up some of the more dubious cases the Bureau’s top men have cracked over the years.

Read More

The FBI's years-long investigation into a fictional anti-goth cult

The FBI’s years-long investigation into a fictional anti-goth cult

In 2005, the FBI launched an investigation into the “Church of the Hammer,” a fundamentalist Christian sect which called for the wholesale slaughter of practitioners of the goth subculture. Two years later, the investigation was closed, on grounds that the Church didn’t exist.

Read More

Vincent Bugliosi’s FBI file shows the prosecutor of infamous Manson Family murders got a few threats of his own

Vincent Bugliosi’s FBI file shows the prosecutor of infamous Manson Family murders got a few threats of his own

During his time as a Los Angeles County attorney, Vincent Bugliosi successfully prosecuted over 99% of his cases, including the murder trial of the still infamous Charles Manson. Two in particular, according to materials recently released by the FBI, warranted further investigation as evidence of Charlie’s appeal even beyond prison walls.

Read More

Reagan, Bush, and the time-traveling neo-Nazis: John Hinckley Sr.'s FBI file

Reagan, Bush, and the time-traveling neo-Nazis: John Hinckley Sr.’s FBI file

Emma Best’s attempt to mine the FBI file of the father of would-be assassin John Hinckley Jr. for evidence that could confirm or debunk some of the conspiracy theories regarding the attempt on Reagan’s life took a rather weird turn - as in imaginary, time-hopping Nazis weird.

Read More

Steal This Bear: FBI file documents strange history between a prominent sixties radical and the National Park mascot

Steal This Bear: FBI file documents strange history between a prominent sixties radical and the National Park mascot

You never know what you’re going to find digging through old government records. Case in point: how Abbie Hoffman’s FBI file uncovered an arcane law regarding Smokey Bear.

Read More

FBI rejects request for ISIS fighter Jordan MacTaggart's file on "open investigation" grounds

FBI rejects request for ISIS fighter Jordan MacTaggart’s file on “open investigation” grounds

Brian Sparks’ FOIA request for the FBI’s file on an American anarchist killed while fighting the Islamic State was rejected on grounds that it was part of “pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding,” or the “open investigation” exemption. What that investigation is is anyone’s guess.

Read More

All Eyez on Me: The FBI's investigation into Tupac's death

All Eyez on Me: The FBI’s investigation into Tupac’s death

Twenty years ago this week, rap icon Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas by unknown assailants. His FBI file reveals that a month after the murder, the Bureau launched a full inquiry, which linked Tupac’s death to a larger conspiracy involving Eazy-E, the feud between Ruthless Records and Death Row, and the Jewish Defense League.

Read More

File a FOIA for free in honor of Labor Day

File a FOIA for free in honor of Labor Day

In honor of Labor Day, we’ll be accepting submissions and suggestions all week for new requests to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their files on the activists that made the holiday possible. Each suggestion will be submitted free-of-charge and made publicly available.

Read More

The FBI grilled Julia Child over alleged communist ties

The FBI grilled Julia Child over alleged communist ties

Anyone with Google, a passing interest in espionage, or a love of Amy Adams knows by now that the life of television personality and French cook Julia Child was entwined in the U.S. intelligence apparatus. More ambiguous, however, is Child’s relationship to the FBI as the U.S. moved out of the joyous tidings of V-J Day and into the cold uncertainty of McCarthyism.

Read More

FBI kept close watch on Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein's decades of activism

FBI kept close watch on Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein’s decades of activism

Holocaust survivor and tireless activist Hedy Epstein dedicated her long life to fighting for human rights. The organizations she founded, led, or worked with are too numerous to recount, but it was her involvement in two particular causes which attracted the attention of the FBI.

Read More

Hoover Shrugged: Ayn Rand's one-sided love affair with the FBI

Hoover Shrugged: Ayn Rand’s one-sided love affair with the FBI

When novelist Ayn Rand found out that Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover was an adherent of her Objectivist philosophy, she was thrilled, and immediately tried to set up a personal meeting. There was just one problem: Hoover had no idea what she was talking about.

Read More

How James Baldwin trolled the FBI

How James Baldwin trolled the FBI

James Baldwin’s unflinching critique of racial unrest in America - and the government’s role in perpetuating it - earned him a spot on several FBI watchlists, and Bureau surveillance of his every move. However, Baldwin’s files show that on at least one occasion he was able to turn that scrutiny to his advantage.

Read More

The fall of an American Emperor: the last days of J. Edgar Hoover

The fall of an American Emperor: the last days of J. Edgar Hoover

When we last looked at J. Edgar Hoover’s personal files, the newly-minted FBI Director was America’s criminal justice wunderkind, settling into his role as Number One G-Man amid nearly universal acclaim. Almost half a century later, the file shows a very different Hoover, neither wunder nor kind - a paranoid recluse scouring the tabloids for bad press while fighting the constant threat of forced retirement.

Read More

When Elvis didn't meet Hoover

When Elvis didn’t meet Hoover

While the meeting between Nixon and the King is the stuff of legend, hidden within Elvis’ FBI file is a lesser known but equally bizarre epilogue. While in Washington visiting the president, Elvis Presley repeatedly tried - and failed - to gain an audience with the man he called “the greatest living American,” J. Edgar Hoover.

Read More

Portrait of the Director as a young man: J. Edgar Hoover's FBI file

Portrait of the Director as a young man: J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI file

On the anniversary of the death of the infamous FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, MuckRock takes a look through his earliest files and finds that Hoover was a apparently a pretty swell guy … at least according to Hoover.

Read More

FBI files on Greenpeace paint activism as a crime

FBI files on Greenpeace paint activism as a crime

As we’ve written about before, the FBI’s classification of “economic disruption” as a form of terrorism comes dangerously close to criminalizing activism. Never is that more clear than in their files on the international environmentalist organization Greenpeace, which was labeled a terror threat despite tactics that typically involve launching a protest with some fairy wings, a toilet-shaped dunk tank, and some pointed questions.

Read More

Carl Sagan's FBI file is a FOIA ghost story

Carl Sagan’s FBI file is a FOIA ghost story

Despite his outspoken views on pretty much everything, famed astronomer Carl Sagan’s surprisingly light FBI file only concerns an investigation into a letter he received in 1983, identifying Dr. Sagan as one of the few figures capable of preventing a global apocalypse. Eerily enough, the reason the letter caught the Bureau’s interest was its prediction that the space shuttle Columbia would explode - a prediction that would come true almost exactly twenty years later.

Read More

Terrorism by association: FBI files on Food Not Bombs

Terrorism by association: FBI files on Food Not Bombs

Tomorrow marks the 35th anniversary of Food Not Bombs handing out its first free meal outside of the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston. Despite seemingly the non-controversial nature of the activist group’s titular three-word mission statement, FBI files released earlier this week show that serving up home-cooked vegan moussaka is apparently enough to warrant suspicions of terrorism.

Read More

"Used for propaganda purposes" Lana Peters' (Svetlana Alliluyeva)'s FBI file

“Used for propaganda purposes” Lana Peters’ (Svetlana Alliluyeva)’s FBI file

When Lana Peters - AKA Svetlana Alliluyeva, AKA Josef Stalin’s daughter -died in Wisconsin at 85, she had accrued a Federal Bureau of Investigation file over 200 pages long. But the FBI’s involvement with her was limited, mostly capturing their sideline vantage the year she defected, beginning two decades of something like her American Dream.

Read More

File a FOIA for free in honor of International Women’s Day

File a FOIA for free in honor of International Women’s Day

March 8 is International Women’s Day. Born of socialist roots and now officially celebrated by the United Nations and multiple countries around the world, IWD is meant to be a global celebration of women’s achievements and progress, and MuckRock wants to help you join in this year.

Read More

James Baldwin's pen made him "a dangerous individual" to J. Edgar Hoover's FBI

James Baldwin’s pen made him “a dangerous individual” to J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI

A black man successfully brandishing a pen was cause enough for alarm in Hoover’s FBI. Hundreds of pages released in response to a request by MuckRock user Conor Skelding sketch the Feds attempts to keep track of African-American novelist James Baldwin, capturing soundbites from the stir of sixties’ Civil Rights Movement that continue to resonate today.

Read More

Milking the Butter Cow: FBI reports on "animal rights extremists"

Milking the Butter Cow: FBI reports on “animal rights extremists”

A request for documents related to “ecoterrorism” in the possession of the FBI’s Countering Violent Extremism Office produced an intelligence bulletin warning that “animal rights extremist” activity may be on the rise, as well as a report from researchers at the University of Maryland on recent trends in terrorism.

Read More

Strange Love: The FBI's obsession with Terry Southern's mythical porn stash

Strange Love: The FBI’s obsession with Terry Southern’s mythical porn stash

Terry Southern’s career is the stuff of Hollywood legend, but the celebrated satirist is perhaps best known for his work as the principle screenwriter for Dr. Strangelove. While that film appeared to have raised a few eyebrows at the Bureau, it was a different kind of strange love that finally earned Southern the FBI’s attention - files released to Shawn Musgrave show the DOJ’s finest legal minds grappling with the question of whether his satirical pornographic novel Candy was pornography or satire.

Read More

That time the FBI used DOJ resources to settle a bet with Tom Clancy

That time the FBI used DOJ resources to settle a bet with Tom Clancy

One of the best-selling authors of all time, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels pioneered the modern military thriller. Tales of the square-jawed CIA analyst using cutting-edge tech to take out the bad guys on the global stage earned Clancy millions, and according to his FBI files, some friends in high places.

Read More

PRINT "BYE" - The FBI's investigation into Johnny Cash's BASIC threats

PRINT “BYE” - The FBI’s investigation into Johnny Cash’s BASIC threats

As we mentioned in our earlier write up, the FBI’s files on outlaw icon Johnny Cash are surprisingly tame. Well, once you get past that part where he burned down a national forest. After that youthful indiscretion, the file consists mainly of investigations into various death threats the House of Cash received over the decades - including one that stands out due to the odd choice of medium, and the even odder investigation.

Read More

The FBI feared communist infiltration of EPCOT

The FBI feared communist infiltration of EPCOT

In 1981, Walt Disney World was getting ready to unveil a new gem in its crown of amusement parks, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT. Revolving around a massive sphere called “Spaceship Earth” and a lagoon that initially called for cultural installations from nine countries, EPCOT was intended to be the ultimate harmonious international village, a shining example of global unity. Naturally the FBI had a problem with it.

Read More

Death threat to Dick Clark leads the FBI on a real-life "Twin Peaks" investigation in White Bear Lake, Minnesota

Death threat to Dick Clark leads the FBI on a real-life “Twin Peaks” investigation in White Bear Lake, Minnesota

As the host of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” on ABC for nearly 40 years, Dick Clark is as much a part of the holiday as party hats and cheap champagne. However, FBI files released after his death in 2012 reveal that somebody wanted to cut his career short a good five decades earlier.

Read More

FBI's efforts to get John Lennon deported were undercut by Bureau's inability to tell hippies apart

FBI’s efforts to get John Lennon deported were undercut by Bureau’s inability to tell hippies apart

John Lennon’s sizable FBI file begins in the midst of his 1972 deportation battle with INS. While Lennon argued in court that the motive behind the deportation was political, the Bureau worked to secure a narcotics charge that would get him out of the country before the Republican National Convention that year.

Read More

FBI thought Cesar Chavez was only into labor organizing for the money

FBI thought Cesar Chavez was only into labor organizing for the money

Cesar Estrada Chavez, Mexican American icon and prominent leader of an historic strike of California farm workers, was the subject of hundreds of pages of FBI correspondence throughout the ’60s, speculating on the nature of his humanitarian and civil rights activism - much of which seems to suggest skepticism in regard to the sincerity of Chavez’s intentions.

Read More

Burn After Reading: J. Edgar Hoover's best insults

Burn After Reading: J. Edgar Hoover’s best insults

In a special edition of the FBI file project, we take a look at some of the director’s greatest disses from over the decades.

Read More

Hoover's FBI were big fans of ABC's "The FBI"

Hoover’s FBI were big fans of ABC’s “The FBI”

Files on Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., star of ABC’s The FBI, give an idea of how the Bureau managed its reputation when given the opportunity to do so favorably, not to mention meticulously - the crime drama was directly overseen by the Bureau’s Crime Records Division and drew material from actual case files.

Read More

"Address: member of the Wu Tang Clan" Ol' Dirty Bastard's FBI File

“Address: member of the Wu Tang Clan” Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s FBI File

47 years ago this week, Russell Jones - better known as Ol’ Dirty Bastard of the Wu-Tang Clan, or simply ODB - was born in New York City. FBI files released to Rich Jones (no relation), offer a glimpse into the multitude of investigations involving Mr. Jones, both as perpetrator and victim.

Read More

Burt Shavitz, international man of mystery

Burt Shavitz, international man of mystery

Though now eternalized as the familiar face of Burt’s Bees personal care products, Ingram Berg Shavitz was not always a mild-mannered beekeeper. In fact, recently released FBI files show that during his youth as a globetrotting photographer, Burt found himself the accidental protagonist in a Cold War spy thriller.

Read More

The FBI's only finding from its months-long investigation into the Church of Satan was that they have a spooky house

The FBI’s only finding from its months-long investigation into the Church of Satan was that they have a spooky house

During the height of the “Satanic Panic” of the ’80s, the FBI twice investigated Anton LaVey’s infamous Church of Satan over allegations that it was kidnapping children for use in unspeakable rituals … and twice they had nothing to show for it.

Read More

Saboteur: FBI worked behind the scenes to remove lines from an Alfred Hitchcock script they didn't like

Saboteur: FBI worked behind the scenes to remove lines from an Alfred Hitchcock script they didn’t like

When the FBI found out that an upcoming episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents featured an unscrupulous former agent willing to exploit his Bureau contacts for personal gain, they were furious at the slander … and reached out to a former agent working studio security to do something about it, by any means necessary.

Read More

Partners in Crime: FBI files on KISS

Partners in Crime: FBI files on KISS

Before rock legends KISS embarked on their 1980 “Unmasked” Tour of Europe, then FBI Director William H. Webster put out a request to field offices for information regarding instances of “civil unrest” associated with the band’s concerts, particularly an incident in Texas which escalated to open attacks on police. The field offices’ response was unanimous - they had no idea what the Director was talking about.

Read More

From the first Jewish Miss America to the Bess Mess, the FBI had an eye on Bess Myerson for her entire career

From the first Jewish Miss America to the Bess Mess, the FBI had an eye on Bess Myerson for her entire career

When the FBI first officially encountered Bess Myerson, she was a well-known television personality still wearing the glow of her historic Miss America crown. When they last investigated her, she was at the crux of a scandal that cost her her job and the tarnish-free sheen of a successful life in the public eye.

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover's inability to understand irony ended his decades-long friendship with William F. Buckley

J. Edgar Hoover’s inability to understand irony ended his decades-long friendship with William F. Buckley

Author and journalist William F. Buckley, Jr. is an icon of American conservatism, quite literally defining the political philosophy in the very first issue of his seminal magazine, National Review. Buckley’s nearly 40-year relationship with the FBI began back in 1950, when J. Edgar Hoover himself was urged to meet with the then twenty-five-year-old phenom.

Read More

50 years after his death, the extent of Walt Disney's services to the FBI remain secret

50 years after his death, the extent of Walt Disney’s services to the FBI remain secret

Walt Disney’s decades-long friendship with J Edgar Hoover and the FBI began with the anti-Communist hysteria of the Hollywood blacklists, and nearly lead to children’s shows and amusement park rides normalizing law enforcement for entire generations of Dumbo-loving children.

Read More

Hoods and "Henbleep" - the FBI files on Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang

Hoods and “Henbleep” - the FBI files on Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang

Decades before Johnny Depp stepped into the role for Black Mass, the real-life James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger, Jr.’s crime organization didn’t need the Hollywood treatment to deliver drama.

Read More

"Eccentric with a slightly gruff manner." Philip S. Foner's FBI File

“Eccentric with a slightly gruff manner.” Philip S. Foner’s FBI File

After an 11-month wait, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has finally released the file it maintained on renowned Marxist historian Philip S. Foner. Although the file is short - only 45 pages - it is heavily redacted, with even most of the dates blocked out. A document dated 1984 makes reference to a “security matter case” that prompted an investigation in 1946 - however, those files appear to have been entirely withheld.

Read More

Undercover Burners: The FBI's surveillance of Burning Man

Undercover Burners: The FBI’s surveillance of Burning Man

The 29th annual Burning Man festival kicks off this week in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Among those paying close attention to the festivities will be the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Special Events Management unit, who have kept files on “burners” since at least 2010.

Read More

The FBI felt Ray Bradbury's sci-fi was part of a commie plot to sap American resolve

The FBI felt Ray Bradbury’s sci-fi was part of a commie plot to sap American resolve

Science fiction - a commie plot to undermine American values? It’s an idea that the FBI was strongly considering during the height of the Cold War, as its lengthy investigation into acclaimed author Ray Bradbury shows.

Read More

George Carlin's J. Edgar Hoover impression got him put on the FBI's watchlist

George Carlin’s J. Edgar Hoover impression got him put on the FBI’s watchlist

Documents from the FBI reveal that J. Edgar Hoover took personal offense to comedian George Carlin following his appearances on “The Carol Burnett Show” and “Jackie Gleason.”

Read More

Wherever IWW leader and ACLU co-founder Elizabeth Gurley Flynn went, the feds followed

Wherever IWW leader and ACLU co-founder Elizabeth Gurley Flynn went, the feds followed

Files released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation reveal that early twentieth century activist and co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn predictably spent at least 1921 to 1924 under surveillance by undercover agents. The documents specifically focus on a speaking tour Flynn launched after the July 1921 conviction of Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for murder.

Read More

The FBI spent decades tracking mathematician Paul Erdős, only to conclude that the guy was just really into math

The FBI spent decades tracking mathematician Paul Erdős, only to conclude that the guy was just really into math

A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul (Pal) Erdős, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds’ ears perk up in mid-century America. But, try as they might, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was never able to find much motivation behind his movements and acquaintances beyond the math of it all.

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover's FBI really hated The Washington Post - especially editor Ben Bradlee

J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI really hated The Washington Post - especially editor Ben Bradlee

Former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee’s role in covering some of the biggest stories of the 20th century - most notably Watergate - has made him a legend in the industry. It also earned him the ire of several figures in government, including FBI director J Edgar Hoover, who felt he was “a colossal liar.”

Read More

Johnny Cash once burnt down a national forest, and other stories from his FBI file

Johnny Cash once burnt down a national forest, and other stories from his FBI file

The FBI file on outlaw icon Johnny Cash spans the years between 1969 and 1982, capturing the transition from his dark, drug-fueled days (and the associated property damage that came with it) to a concerned parent worried about anonymous threats against his family.

Read More

Looking back at Malcolm X's FBI file on his 90th birthday

Looking back at Malcolm X’s FBI file on his 90th birthday

Ninety years ago today, Malcolm Little entered the world by way of Omaha, Nebraska, beginning a life in which he would gather many pseudonyms, many followers, many detractors, and a FBI file thousands of pages long — hundreds more still undisclosed — that traced the movement and doings of the infamous black leader Malcolm X.

Read More

"Occupation: Correspondent" Christopher Hitchens' FBI file

“Occupation: Correspondent” Christopher Hitchens’ FBI file

Years after quietly being removed from the FBI’s public archive, agency files on the outspoken author and atheist Christopher Hitchens have returned to the web.

Read More

FBI files on DEF CON show "Spot the Fed" contest a sore spot for Feds

FBI files on DEF CON show “Spot the Fed” contest a sore spot for Feds

It’s a running joke that DEF CON - Las Vegas’ annual gathering of notable members of the hacker community - is a rather obvious target for nosy government agencies. So much so, that the conference has made it into a contest: spot the fed, win a t-shirt. While organizers insist it’s all in good fun, FBI files released this week show the agency is not amused.

Read More

FBI agents were warned against interviewing Allen Ginsberg, fearing it would result in "embarrassment"

FBI agents were warned against interviewing Allen Ginsberg, fearing it would result in “embarrassment”

Documents released to MuckRock indicate that Ginsberg first came to FBI attention in September 1963, nearly eight years after Ginsberg first performed “Howl” in a San Francisco art gallery and six years after Lawrence Ferlinghetti was acquitted of obscenity charges for publishing the poem.

Read More

The FBI felt Westboro Baptist's Fred Phelps needed "psychiatric care"

The FBI felt Westboro Baptist’s Fred Phelps needed “psychiatric care”

The FBI has released the file of Fred Phelps, notorious leader of the Westboro Baptist Church. The file reveals some information not previously publicized, including Phelps application for a government position in the late sixties, and the Bureau’s extensive investigation into the parody site “Godhatesgoths.com.”

Read More

J. Edgar Hoover's pen pal, the Soviet spy

J. Edgar Hoover’s pen pal, the Soviet spy

The FBI has released its file on Congressman Samuel Dickstein, who was among the founding members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. While he was in the position, it has been alleged that he was simultaneously a Soviet agent for the NKVD - a detail not mentioned in file, which consists mostly of three decades of mutual back-patting between Dickstein and J. Edgar Hoover.

Read More

FBI has an open investigation related to #Gamergate

FBI has an open investigation related to #Gamergate

Rejecting a request for the FBI’s files on Gamergate and its affiliates, the bureau stated that, while they have responsive documents related to the loose coalition, those files are part of an ongoing investigation, and release “would interfere with law enforcement proceedings.” Who or what is being investigated remains an open question.

Read More

"You are the heretic." Sun Myung Moon's FBI file

“You are the heretic.” Sun Myung Moon’s FBI file

Last week, MuckRock received over 500 pages in documents from the FBI file of the late Sun Myung Moon, religious leader of the cult-like Unification Church. Along with his widespread influence, Moon also attracted controversy - his file details allegations of slavery and involuntary servitude, death threats against Moon’s son, arson, and possible kidnapping of church members.

Read More

FBI files show televangelist Paul Crouch had suspected ties to ... well, everybody

FBI files show televangelist Paul Crouch had suspected ties to … well, everybody

Paul Crouch, founder of the Trinity Broadcasting Network, the world’s largest Christian television network, always had a knack for avoiding scandal, brushing off allegations of embezzlement and sexual harassment with ease. However, the televangelists’ FBI file, released after his death, reveals that his criminal ties potentially go a lot deeper - and weirder - than anybody could have imagined.

Read More

FBI files offer view into sick world of Hunter Moore’s IsAnyoneUp

FBI files offer view into sick world of Hunter Moore’s IsAnyoneUp

Hunter Moore, founder of now-defunct revenge porn isanyoneup.com, claimed that all he did was post pictures people sent in.

An FBI file detailing an federal investigation into the site appears to tell a different story.

Read More

FBI snuck agents into tapings of "The David Frost Show" to determine how subversive it was

FBI snuck agents into tapings of “The David Frost Show” to determine how subversive it was

Spurred by an invitation for then-director J. Edgar Hoover to appear on the show, the FBI’s surprisingly comprehensive file on journalist David Frost and his eponymous talk show is a master’s class in sixties establishment paranoia.

Read More

Fearing "embarrassment," the FBI advised agents against interviewing Susan Sontag

Fearing “embarrassment,” the FBI advised agents against interviewing Susan Sontag

An FBI memo dated August 13, 1968 regarding Susan Sontag ended with the determination that “her activities do not warrant further investigation. By December 4 of the same year, the Bureau was calling for a full report in two weeks. “Give this immediate attention,” Hoover wrote to the New York office. Why had Hoover instructed New York to reopen their file on Sontag?

Read More

"AKA Mrs. Peter Seeger" Toshi Seeger's FBI file

“AKA Mrs. Peter Seeger” Toshi Seeger’s FBI file

The FBI released its file on Toshi Seeger, the environmental activist, film maker, and wife of American folk legend Pete Seeger. It appears as if that last detail was the Bureau’s primary concern.

Read More

Did Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap plan a goodwill trip to the United States?

Did Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap plan a goodwill trip to the United States?

Newly disclosed documents reveal FBI field offices around the country took measures to prepare for an anticipated U.S. visit by legendary Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap in 1993. But, for reasons that remain unclear, the potentially historic trip never came to pass.

Read More

FBI couldn't get to YES with famed negotiator Roger D. Fisher

FBI couldn’t get to YES with famed negotiator Roger D. Fisher

In the mid 1970s, the FBI considered approaching expert negotiator Roger D. Fisher to gather information on a Soviet diplomat the Bureau believed to be a KGB spy. Unable to uncover any dirt on the professor, agents decided they didn’t have enough leverage to bring Fisher to the table.

Read More

FBI declined to investigate Hannah Arendt over man's claim she "corrupted" his daughter

FBI declined to investigate Hannah Arendt over man’s claim she “corrupted” his daughter

Despite a distraught father’s fears that she had “corrupted” her daughter with European wanderlust, the FBI declined to investigate Professor Hannah Arendt in 1956.

Read More

"A prolific instigator" Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton's FBI file

“A prolific instigator” Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton’s FBI file

Lady Malcolm Douglas-Hamilton’s extensive FBI file reveals the philanthropist and socialite’s failed efforts to connect with J. Edgar Hoover.

Read More

"Perhaps a bit controversial" FBI files on John Silber

“Perhaps a bit controversial” FBI files on John Silber

The FBI twice conducted background checks on Boston University president John Silber, both before his unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 1990. While acquaintances emphasized Silber’s eloquence and headstrong nature, the file makes only brief mention of perennial battles with BU staff and student body or the federal bribery investigation around Boston mayor Kevin White.

Read More

FBI investigated threat to kill Surgeon General C. Everett Koop over cigarette labels

FBI investigated threat to kill Surgeon General C. Everett Koop over cigarette labels

As the Surgeon General who rolled out tobacco warning labels and sent a pamphlet about AIDS to every household in the country, C. Everett Koop had his share of critics. While the FBI’s background check came up exemplary, they twice investigated threats against his life.

Read More

Was Issac Asimov secretly "ROBPROF," a Soviet spy within the highest ranks of academia?

Was Issac Asimov secretly “ROBPROF,” a Soviet spy within the highest ranks of academia?

By September 14th, 1960, Isaac Asimov had been a professor of biochemistry Boston University for 11 years, and his acclaimed “I, Robot” collection of short stories was on its seventh reprint. This was also the day someone not-so-subtly accused him of communist sympathies in a letter to J. Edgar Hoover.

Read More

"A cooperative attitude" James Hood's FBI file

“A cooperative attitude” James Hood’s FBI file

The FBI file of James A. Hood, who led the push to desegregate the University of Alabama, includes a letter he sent to J. Edgar Hoover seeking reports about crime statistics, which the Director denied. A year later, the Freedom of Information Act went into effect to ground such requests in legal entitlement rather than an official’s good will.

Read More

How the FBI's inability to keep its watchlist straight made one federal employee's life a McCarthyist nightmare

How the FBI’s inability to keep its watchlist straight made one federal employee’s life a McCarthyist nightmare

One Irving Adler was a a serviceman and federal employee. The other Irving Adler was a renowned activist and author. The FBI had trouble telling the difference.

Read More

FBI kept close watch on Rodney King's media appearances

FBI kept close watch on Rodney King’s media appearances

The FBI has released its file on Rodney King, whose beating by police sparked mass riots in Los Angeles in 1992. The 725-page file consists primarily of news clippings related to the LAPD excessive force investigation.

Read More

The FBI kept track of Michael Hastings' "controversial reporting"

The FBI kept track of Michael Hastings’ “controversial reporting”

The FBI kept track on Michael Hastings’ “controversial reporting,” even investigating his Rolling Stone piece on Bowe Bergdahl for veracity.

Read More

Boy Scouts FBI file reveals Hoover’s fickle support, recent scrutiny

Boy Scouts FBI file reveals Hoover’s fickle support, recent scrutiny

As one of the oldest and largest youth organizations in the country, the Boy Scouts of America have been on the FBI’s radar since the Hoover era. The Bureau’s 500-page file spans 70 years, including recent allegations that BSA leaders manipulated enrollment numbers and even created “ghost” units to qualify for federal funding.

Read More

FBI files on Earth Liberation Front focus on group's anti-war activities

FBI files on Earth Liberation Front focus on group’s anti-war activities

While the FBI had followed the Earth Liberation Front (ELF)’s actions for years, it was apparently the environmental group’s opposition to the Iraq war that really piqued the Bureau’s interest.

Read More

"My civil rights were violated" Thelma Glass's FBI file

“My civil rights were violated” Thelma Glass’s FBI file

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation kept close tabs on many civil rights activists, its records on Thelma Glass aren’t related to her advocacy. A lead organizer in the Women’s Political Council, the Alabama group that organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955, her file focuses on an incident more than 30 years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat.

Read More

How a husband and wife team of ex-spies outwitted the FBI and pulled off the most daring escape in Cold War history

How a husband and wife team of ex-spies outwitted the FBI and pulled off the most daring escape in Cold War history

On August 9th, 1990, two U.S. Embassy employees trying to enjoy a beer at the Mezhdunarodnaya Hotel in Moscow were interrupted by a stranger, who ended up sharing a bottle of wine. The embassy workers would later learn they had come face-to-face with one of the FBI’s most wanted: Edward Lee Howard, an ex-CIA officer trained in counter-surveillance who only a few years earlier had outwitted the Bureau to escape the county.

Read More

FBI feared that Neil Armstrong would be accosted by lunar loonies

FBI feared that Neil Armstrong would be accosted by lunar loonies

Astronaut Neil Armstrong’s 18-page FBI file relates mostly to name checks for presidential appointments. A visit by two tourists to Armstrong’s home town, however, caused concern.

Read More

FBI reveals why it labeled Insane Clown Posse gang leaders

FBI reveals why it labeled Insane Clown Posse gang leaders

Records released to MuckRock user Rich Jones show that the FBI’s Salt Lake City office conducted a 14-month investigation into the horrorcore duo’s fanbase. The file identifies Juggalos and Juggalettes as a “violent street gang” numbering in the thousands, whose members “sometimes paint their faces to look like wicked clowns” and “continue the dress by carrying small axes.”

Read More

"Miss Whitney, Please Keep Smiling" FBI files on Whitney Houston

“Miss Whitney, Please Keep Smiling” FBI files on Whitney Houston

After a request by Rich Jones, the FBI has released its file on singer Whitney Houston. The documents chronicle interactions between the Bureau and Houston over a ten year period, including potentially threatening fans and allegations of extortion, one by a man claiming to be “President of Europe”

Read More

Gore Vidal's FBI file documents every time he got under J. Edgar Hoover's thin skin

Gore Vidal’s FBI file documents every time he got under J. Edgar Hoover’s thin skin

Under J. Edgar Hoover, one of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s top priorities was to keep tabs on the director’s critics. Unsurprisingly, the 35-page FBI file on Gore Vidal reads like an enumeration of the liberal author’s slights against Hoover, all of them reported by Bureau agents or Hoover’s fans.

Read More

The FBI couldn't figure out how Aaron Swartz did what he did

The FBI couldn’t figure out how Aaron Swartz did what he did

The FBI has released its file on the late transparency activist Aaron Swartz. The files make no mention of his alleged intrusion into the JSTOR academic journal system, for which Aaron was facing criminal charges when he ended his life. Instead, the 21-page file mostly focuses on Swartz’s bulk download of PACER records - and the FBI’s inability to understand how he was doing it.

Read More

"Ten big ones" Boston Mayor Kevin White’s FBI file

“Ten big ones” Boston Mayor Kevin White’s FBI file

As mayor of Boston, Kevin White oversaw what many have called its transformation into a world-class city. During his four terms in office, from 1968 through 1984, he oversaw revived development in the city’s downtown and led the way through a bitter struggle with school integration. White’s tenure was also marked by corruption allegations. But even as many of his associates were convicted on corruption charges, several FBI investigations into White’s activities as mayor came up dry.

Read More

"Glaring perverting headlines" Helen Gurley Brown's FBI file

“Glaring perverting headlines” Helen Gurley Brown’s FBI file

Which article in the November 1985 issue of Cosmo so infuriated one reader from Phoenix, Ariz., that they mailed editor-in-chief Helen Gurley Brown a death threat with a razor blade taped to the letter? Was it “An Intimate Look at Adultery?” “Twelve Hideaways for Lovers?” Or could it have been the pro-pagan “Astro Forecast for Your Man?”

Read More

The FBI's decades-long war on D. H. Lawrence

The FBI’s decades-long war on D. H. Lawrence

The FBI file on avant-garde book publisher Barney Rosset reveals how J. Edgar Hoover’s Bureau played decency crusader on two continents in an attempt to keep Lady Chatterley’s Lover out of the hands of the public.

Read More

Hunter S. Thompson's appropriately NSFW FBI file

Hunter S. Thompson’s appropriately NSFW FBI file

The career of Hunter S. Thompson, chronicler of America’s counterculture movement, was closely followed by the FBI - even going so far as to interview his neighborhood liquor store clerk.

Read More

The FBI, the ICP and the FOIA

The FBI, the ICP and the FOIA

The hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse sued the FBI this week after the agency failed to fulfill a 2011 FOIA request for documents justifying the Bureau’s designation of the Detroit-based musical group’s fans as a gang.

Read More

Vang Pao: The general who wouldn't give up the battle

Vang Pao: The general who wouldn’t give up the battle

For nearly seven decades, General Vang Pao served as a warrior for his people in a campaign that spanned from his native Laos to California. Between World War II and the Global War on Terror, Vang went from decorated veteran and CIA confidante to defending himself in a federal courtroom against charges of attempting to funnel almost $10 million of weapons to Laos.

Read More

FBI investigated a NASCAR fan who wanted to kill Dale Earnhardt Sr. to save sport's integrity

FBI investigated a NASCAR fan who wanted to kill Dale Earnhardt Sr. to save sport’s integrity

Dale Earnhardt Sr. is remembered as one of NASCAR’s most successful drivers and tragic figures, given the shocking Daytona 500 crash that killed him in 2001. But followers of the sport had elevated him to mythic status long before the fatal accident. An FBI file obtained by MuckRock user Jason Smathers documents how Earnhardt faced danger on and off the track.

Read More

The Feynman Files: The professor's invitation past the Iron Curtain

The Feynman Files: The professor’s invitation past the Iron Curtain

While his roguish charm won over classrooms and the public, physicist Richard Feynman was subjected to years of espionage and scrutiny as the Federal Bureau of Investigation trailed him and his associates, intent on rooting out communist sympathies from the man who helped make America the world’s first nuclear power.

Read More

Richard Feynman, master of deception and enemy of America?

Richard Feynman, master of deception and enemy of America?

While the vast majority of letters, interviews and other data gathered by the FBI regarding Richard Feynman pain the picture of a loyal genius who helped America build the first atomic weaponry, one interviewee saw a more sinister purpose: A methodical, patient path towards betraying the country from its very highest ranks.

Read More

"Flexible integrity" Old scores are settled in Steve Jobs' FBI file

“Flexible integrity” Old scores are settled in Steve Jobs’ FBI file

When Steve Jobs was considered for a presidential appointment in 1991, the FBI embarked on a routine background check. And for the not-insignificant number of enemies Jobs had made over the years, this was a golden opportunity to settle old scores.

Read More

224 Requests

Partially Completed

8 files

Philip Agee

Emma Best sent this request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America