Entry for April 19, 2006

The above illustration is from Time Magazine’s 1972 cover featuring Jack Anderson as “The Square Scourge of Washington.” ( available for subscribers)   The Chronicle of Higher Education’s   Scott Carlson attracted national attention with his April 18, 2006 story,  “George Washington U. to Receive Jack Anderson’s Papers — but FBI Wants to See Them First.” 

After Anderson’s  death last December from Parkinson’s disease,  the investigative reporter’s  family planned to make his papers available to the public.  Then FBI stepped in to review and possible confiscate some of them on the grounds any classified documents cannot be retained as part of a private estate.  Said FBI spokesman Bill Carter yesterday,

The U.S. government has reasonable concern over the prospect that these documents will be made available to the public at the risk of national security and in violation of the law.

The FBI is expecially seeking documents to in the prosecution of two former lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for disclosing classified information– Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.  This despite the fact that Anderson had done little reporting after his diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease in  1990.

Jack’s son, Kevin , told Los Angeles Times writer Nick Timiraos for his April 19, 2006 story, “Late Journalist’s Family Resists FBI Request for His Documents” that lawyers for the family are preparing a letter to refuse access.  

“He would absolutely oppose the FBI rifling through his papers at will.”

He adds, although some of the documents may be classified, they contain only

embarrassing top secrets–hammers that cost a thousand dollars and things like that.

or as he  ABC news’s Bret Hovell for today’s story, “Family Fights FBI Over Late Journalist’s Papers: Government Officials Say They Need to Review Classified Information”:

This was not the type of government criminal investigation that dad would support. It wasn’t about trying to catch Osama bin Laden….They were top secret not because they were the plans to a B-2 bomber, they were top secret because some government bureaucrat screwed up and was trying to cover up his mistake.


Here, from the Project on Government Oversight’s blog entry  “Remembering Jack Anderson”  is  what CNN’s Ed Henry said:

A devout Mormon, Anderson never shied from a fight with a corrupt politician. The more powerful the better, crusading against Communist-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy, rifling through the home trash cans of J. Edgar Hoover, after learning that was a tactic the director himself use to intimidate people. Anderson’s sensational scoops during the Watergate years landed him on Nixon’s enemies list. With J. Gordon Liddy going so far as to plot the columnist’s murder in order to silence him.

As a kid, I remember reading Anderson’s  “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column in my hometown paper, The Washington Post . The self-described muckraker  wrote about  Watergate.   He linked the settlement of an antitrust suit against ITT by the Justice Department to a $400,000 pledge to underwrite the 1972 Republican convention.   He revealed the Reagan administration’s efforts to sell arms illegally to Iran and funnel the proceeds to anti-Communist forces in Central America and the  Central Intelligence Agency’s enlisting of the Mafia to kill Castro. 

Anderson’s boss who originated the column, Drew Pearson, bravely exposed Senator Joe McCarthy  before Murrow and others joined the attack.  What I didn’t know is that according to  Anderson’s biography on Sparticus.net,  he asked  Pearson to lay off the attack, saying, “He is our best source on the the Hill. ”  Pearson replied, “He may be a good source, Jack, but he’s a bad man.”



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