FBI To Pay San Fran Journo $470,000

This story makes me so happy for so many reasons. First because I once chatted with Rosenfeld and found him delightful, the epitome of a hard-working scrappy journalist and FOI warrior. Second, because the FBI had its arse handed to it on legal grounds. And finally, because it sends a strong signal to stonewalling politicos everywhere…


A federal judge this week ordered the FBI to pay a San Francisco journalist almost half a million dollars for withholding records he requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

Seth Rosenfeld, a former reporter at The Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner, won $470,459 in attorneys’ fees for two lawsuits he filed – one in 1990 and another in 2007 – while researching the 1960s protest movement in Berkeley.

The lawsuits were two of five he filed against the FBI and the Justice Department starting in 1985. He requested a variety of records pertaining to the FBI’s covert operations at UC Berkeley and its secret relationship with former President Ronald Reagan.

Rosenfeld used the information he received from the FBI in articles for The Chronicle and the Examiner, as well as in his book “Subversives: The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to Power,” which was released in August.

Rosenfeld said the FBI had failed to turn over all of the documents he requested, and that it wasn’t until he engaged them in a series of legal battles that the agency released thousands of pages…

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/FBI-must-pay-S-F-journalist-470-000-3965054.php#ixzz29uLznWEu

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Oh Yeah, It’s an Insane Clown Posse FOI Story!

This is bound to do wonders for our analytics…

Insane Clown Posse have officially sued the FBI for information about what prompted the agency to list the group’s “Juggalo” fans as a gang, according to a statement on the group’s website.

The suit, filed earlier this week, claims the FBI improperly withheld records Insane Clown Posse had requested under the Freedom of Information Act. ICP sought records regarding an investigation that landed the Juggalos in the government’s National Gang Threat Assessment report in 2011. Parts of the report describe Juggalos as a “loosely-organized hybrid gang” and said they “exhibit gang-like behavior and engage in criminal activity and violence.”

Rappers Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope announced in August at the Gathering of the Juggalos that they intended to sue. “We are not a gang!” the group’s statement reads. “We are a family! We come together for our luv of the Insane Clown Posse, Psychopathic Records and our Juggalo pride. Can we take a fuckin’ second to note that Jimmy Buffett’s Parrot Heads, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, Justin Bieber’s Beliebers, the Grateful Dead’s Deadheads and many more haven’t been labeled as a gang?”

Read more here

Insane Clown Posse

Cover of Insane Clown Posse


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Ray Bradbury’s FOI File:

Was there any writer the FBI didn’t track back in the day? The FOI file reveals the extent of the creepy tracking of the sic-fi genius:

The FBI gave Ray Bradbury a mixed review.

Photo of Ray Bradbury.

Photo of Ray Bradbury. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to documents declassified recently through the Freedom of Information Act, the bureau investigated the “Fahrenheit 451” author in the 1950s and 1960s because of suspected communist sympathies.

One informant warned agents that Bradbury, who died June 5 at age 91, wrote stories that were “definitely slanted” against capitalism. The informant added that science fiction itself could so terrify readers that they would succumb to “incompetence bordering on hysteria” and would be helpless during a third world war.

The bureau noted Bradbury’s opposition to Sen. Joe McCarthy and other anti-Communists and his support for civil rights. But it concluded that Bradbury had never been in the Communist Partyand that interviewing him was unnecessary because he did not have “informant potential.”


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FOI At Work: Steve Jobs’ FBI File Released…

All over the news today, brought to you by FOI:

The FBI released a decades-old file it kept on Apple co-founder Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07

Image via Wikipedia

that noted his past drug use and cites interviews with people who say he had a penchant to “distort reality.”

The 191 pages of FBI records are part of a 1991 background check of Jobs, who died in October 2011, for an appointment by former President George H.W. Bush to the President’s Export Council.

The file includes the results of interviews with Jobs and those who knew him. The records reinforce the picture of Jobs that has been known to many followers of his career and Apple. Biographer Walter Isaacson’s best-selling book about Jobs, released last year, outlines his use of drugs and mercurial personality. While many people interviewed by the FBI described Jobs favorably, some said he wasn’t always truthful.

“Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs’s honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals,” according to the materials released by the FBI.

Take a peek yourself here.

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Keeping Austin Weird…

Rainbow cup

Image by Näystin via Flickr

From a great NYT profile on Austin-based anarchist (can an anarchist really have a base?) Scott Crow…

Blogged here by Reason:

Mr. Crow, a lanky Texas native who works at a recycling center, is one of several Austin activists who asked the F.B.I. for their files, citing the Freedom of Information Act. The 440 heavily-redacted pages he received, many bearing the rubric “Domestic Terrorism,” provide a revealing window on the efforts of the bureau, backed by other federal, state and local police agencies, to keep an eye on people it deems dangerous.

In the case of Mr. Crow, who has been arrested a dozen times during demonstrations but has never been convicted of anything more serious than trespassing, the bureau wielded an impressive array of tools, the documents show.

It’s interesting reading…weird, even.

Speaking of weird, a poster on one of their blogs in a free-for-all blasting a column I wrote some years ago managed to attack me by means of a false racial assault. It was plenty racist, but directed at a white me.

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Seems The Yanks’ Former Boss Worked For The Man…

George Steinbrenner's life, work clip courtesy...

Image via Wikipedia

A GREAT FOI-driven story:

The FBI released documents Monday stating that New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner assisted the agency in two investigations— one of them apparently a terrorism probe—in the years leading up to his pardon by President Ronald Reagan on a campaign-contributions conviction.

The Associated Press and other news organizations requested the FBI file under the Freedom of Information Act following Steinbrenner’s death in July. The first release was made last December. The two releases combined totaled about 800 pages.

In a newly released 1988 FBI memo, the FBI said that it “supports the contention that George Steinbrenner has provided the FBI with valuable assistance.”

Seven months later, Reagan pardoned Steinbrenner for his convictions in a case involving campaign donations to President Richard Nixon and other politicians.

The documents, included in the second release of Steinbrenner’s FBI file, also show that he blamed his illegal corporate campaign contribution to Nixon on bad legal advice.

The memo disclosed Monday described one probe in which Steinbrenner assisted as “an undercover operation” that ultimately led to an arrest, prosecution and conviction. The FBI described the other investigation simply as “a sensitive security matter.” The FBI deleted all specifics about the probes before releasing the bureau’s file on Steinbrenner, who died last year.

A separate FBI document identifies the cases as “two national security matters” and says Steinbrenner assisted the bureau from 1978 to 1983.

A 1987 letter by Steinbrenner’s lawyers about his assistance to the FBI says that the Yankees owner “knows that he placed the lives of his family and himself in jeopardy through being involved in a terrorist matter.”

Separately, the 1988 FBI memo says that Steinbrenner agreed to use Yankee Stadium for the staging of over 500 gambling raids against a major organized crime syndicate in New York City. A different site was ultimately chosen.

Steinbrenner pleaded guilty in 1974 to a conspiracy to funnel corporate campaign contributions to politicians, and to making a “false and misleading” explanation of a $25,000 donation to Nixon’s campaign and trying to influence and intimidate employees of his shipbuilding company to give that false information to a grand jury.

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A Record Year for Crazies…

Nancy Pelosi photo portrait as Speaker of the ...

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A great FOI-driven story documenting the national outbreak of crazy….

Members of Congess reported a record-high number of threats to their safety in 2010, according to The Hill.

According to documents obtained by The Hill through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the FBI investigated 26 threats of violence against lawmakers (and occasionally, their family members) in 2010.

Almost half of the threats came in the contentious weeks before and after the health care reform bill was signed into law on March 23, 2010. Among those targeted include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

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Logo of The New York Times.

Image via Wikipedia

The New York Times with a great FOI-driven story on the expanding dragnet after the Bush administration eased up on rules about domestic intel:

Within months after the Bush administration relaxed limits on domestic-intelligence gathering in late 2008, theF.B.I. assessed thousands of people and groups in search of evidence that they might be criminals or terrorists, a newly disclosed Justice Department document shows.

In a vast majority of those cases, F.B.I. agents did not find suspicious information that could justify more intensive investigations. The New York Times obtained the data, which the F.B.I. had tried to keep secret, after filing a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act.

The document, which covers the four months from December 2008 to March 2009, says the F.B.I. initiated 11,667 “assessments” of people and groups. Of those, 8,605 were completed. And based on the information developed in those low-level inquiries, agents opened 427 more intensive investigations, it says.


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Penthouse Founder’s FOI Files Reveal, Well…

Penthouse (magazine)
Image via Wikipedia

Before he rose to notoriety as the founder ofPenthouse magazine, Bob Guccione allegedly wrote letters soliciting customers to buy his dirty photos at the bargain rate of 10 photos for $2 under the pseudonym of “Robert Gucci.”

That’s just part of what is revealed by the more than sixty pages of FBI records on Guccione obtained by TPM through a Freedom of Information Act request. Guccione died in October at the age of 79.

Until now, it was widely held that Guccione got into the business in 1964 with the founding ofPenthouse. But the new information unveiled in an FBI file from 1964 shows that a “Gucci” who shared an address with Guccione had been under investigation in 1956 for “sending obscene photographs through the mail.”


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Wellstone FOI Files Reveal Threats on Late Senator

FBI Police vehicles in front of the J Edgar Ho...
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Eight years ago today, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash in northern Minnesota. Now, FBI records show the agency investigated several threats against the late senator but never prosecuted anyone for them.

Minnesota Public Radio citing files it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The files show the threats started shortly after the Minnesota Democrat’s arrival in Washington on the eve of the first Gulf War, which he vocally opposed.

The files also show the FBI first took interest in Wellstone in 1970 when he was arrested during a Vietnam War protest. And they show that an investigation of the plane crash that killed Wellstone, his wife Sheila and six others found no indication of criminal activity.


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