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Subjects Matter: FBI Files

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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