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susan sontag

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Our first book is here! See the hidden lives of famous writers, as told by their FBI files

Our first book is here! See the hidden lives of famous writers, as told by their FBI files

The Federal Bureau of Investigation files on James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway, and Susan Sontag, and a dozen famous writers have a lot of stories to tell, and over the past eight years the MuckRock team has been digging through them. Today, we’re excited to tell those stories in a new format: a 400-page volume that brings the most funny, frightening, poignant, and provocative tales about the intersection of surveillance and freedom to life, as told through those primary source documents.

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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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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?

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