If the release of just one informant’s file could generate these kinds of questions, imagine what could be learned by the release of all FBI domestic intelligence files after a half-century. As the 1960s turn 50, the time seems ripe for the public to demand a full accounting of the role that its government took in monitoring and repressing social movements during the Cold War.
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has in the past decade acquired hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pages of historic FBI files that it does not have the resources to declassify in our lifetimes. These include civil rights investigations from the 1950s and 1960s (44 classification files), investigations into the New Left and Black Power movements (located partly in 157 classification files), anticonspiracy investigation and trial materials (176 classification files), and, most importantly, the main domestic security files of the Hoover era from the 1940s-70s (100 classification files). We should demand the release of all these files in unredacted form. This is more than a demand for an historical reckoning. It is a challenge to a national security state whose ongoing use of informants depends on historical erasures.
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