The Right to Know

The right to Know

To share acquired expertise of using the Freedom of Information Act, in 1979 and again in 1989, the editors of Freedom prepared a guide to understanding and using the Act which has been broadly distributed as a public service to tens of thousands of individuals and groups.

Targeting “Threats to Security”

      On November 30, 1960, Ernest Hemingway checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, at the recommendation of a New York psychiatrist. The Nobel Prize winner had been encouraged by friends to see the psychiatrist, principally because the author complained that “feds” were following him.

      As it turned out, Hemingway was right. Documents obtained by Freedom in 1984 in response to a FOIA request showed that Hemingway was being followed and harangued by FBI agents, acting under orders from J. Edgar Hoover himself.

      As pieced together through heavily redacted documents, the agency targeted Hemingway as a “communist sympathizer” based on friendships and acquaintances he developed during the years he lived outside Havana, Cuba. Hemingway assisted the United States with intelligence activities in the early 1940s following Batista’s rise to power, until the FBI soured on the author and considered him a threat. During the 1950s, the FBI learned that Hemingway planned to write a book about his experiences with the agency. FBI memos revealed a deep-seated animosity and fear, particularly on the part of Hoover, that the renowned author would damage the agency’s reputation if he were to publish such a book. Thus, Hemingway was followed and monitored continually—even when he traveled overseas.

The Right to Know continued ...

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