The National Archives and Records Administration’s recent announcement that there will be no Barack Obama Presidential Library was met with understandable outrage from historians and transparency advocates, who saw it as a blow to a functioning democracy. However, as the National Security Archive’s Nate Jones was quick to point out, this discussion needs to be understood in the larger context of NARA’s current failings in the presidential library system, where FOIA requests can take years, even decades.
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.
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.
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.
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.