Sen. Bentsen’s FOI files reveal the creepy side of public life…

McClatchy made an FOI request for Sen. Bensten’s files, and they unveiled a tumultuous series of threats against the Texas lawmaker:

Lloyd Bentsen was a patrician yet popular politician, tall and dignified, a U.S. senator from Texas for 22 years, a presidential candidate in the 1970s and the 1988 Democratic vice presidential nominee.

It turns out he was also the target of a series of death threats and extortion plots throughout his public career.

Bentsen’s FBI file documents more than a dozen threats from the 1970s to 1991, including one in 1988 simultaneously against Bentsen, when he held the second spot on the Democratic ticket, and Sen. Dan Quayle of Indiana, his Republican vice presidential rival.

Among the threats was also a plot to kidnap Bentsen’s father in 1978 and apparently hold him for ransom.

Others included threats from two different Fort Worth, Texas, letter writers, as well as an inmate in a Gatesville, Texas, prison.

Bentsen died in 2006 at age 85. McClatchy was able to obtain his FBI file through the Freedom of Information Act because he is deceased.

The twin threats against Bentsen and Quayle in September 1988 came via identical anonymous letters sent to their respective Senate offices in Washington, postmarked from Illinois.

They were decorated with an abstract drawing and in block letters said: “Prediction: ‘Assassination’ in the news soon!”


Sen. Byrd’s FOI files reveal some interesting history…

The Associated Press filed a request for the late senator’s files, and produced this interesting story on its results:

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd obtained secret FBI documents about the civil-rights movement that were leaked by the CIA and triggered an angry confrontation between the two agencies in the 1960s, according to newly released FBI records.

Byrd, who died in June 2010 at age 92, had sought the FBI intelligence while suspecting that communists and subversives were guiding the civil-rights cause, the records show…

The FBI released more than 750 pages from its files — many of them with words, sentences or entire paragraphs redacted — in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Associated Press.

The records date to the mid-1950s, when Byrd served in the U.S. House. He was elected to the first of his record nine terms in the U.S. Senate in 1958…

The documents that reveal the September 1966 leak also describe how it sparked outrage among top FBI officials and prompted an internal CIA probe that singled out two agency employees as the culprits.

The episode damaged Byrd’s standing with the bureau, though only briefly, the records show. Numerous documents depict him as an outspoken supporter of the FBI and particularly of J. Edgar Hoover, its longtime director, even toward the end of Hoover’s tenure as criticism of him mounted.

“Byrd said that the Director’s record of public service was unparalleled anywhere and he knew that it would never be possible for any successor to adequately ‘fill his shoes,’ ” one June 1966 memo between top FBI brass said.

The files repeatedly refer to Byrd’s “cordial relations” with the bureau, and include numerous thank-you notes and other friendly exchanges between Byrd and Hoover from the early 1960s until Hoover’s death in 1972.