How I got my FBI FIle


It was because of David Gassman.  David, whose parents were bona fide Communist Party members ( he was known as a ‘red diaper’ baby—but in actual fact—as he has informed me—there is  speculation about whether both his folks were ‘card carriers’), knew a couple of people who I knew.  At the time, I was really not ‘active’ in any radical political organizations. David knew my roommate, Gloria Smith, through SANE/FREEZE, the nuclear  weapons free area campaign.  David also knew Judy Freeman, who got me to be a board member for Uptown Recycling Station, on of the first community based recycling stations in the country.  This was started by Ken Dunn of Resource Center (RPCV Brazil).

It was 1987, but we had known each other several years, via both Gloria & Judy.  I don’t remember how it came up in conversation, but David told us he had requested his FBI file, to make the FBI do something for all the money they  got.  He suggested that both Gloria and I send for our files.

I didn’t think I had a file.  If there was anything, it would have been  because my  former husband, D.Craig Ledford, was General Secretary-Treasurer for the Industrial Workers of the World, and I owe my  membership  in the IWW to journalist Abe Peck, whom I met at The SEED underground newspaper.  He also taught me how to use an IBM SELECTRIC, one of the first ‘computer/word processors. Anyways, that is just background. I was in arrears after I bought my first dog grooming business, and stayed in arrears after we got divorced.  I couldn’t imagine what the FBI would want with me.  David admitted that there might not be anything,but he helped me file the Freedom of Information Act request, and we had to file several requests.

I didn’t really think much would come of it, but after several months, I did get a packet from the FBI.  It turns out I DID have an FBI file!  It had nothing to do with my ex-husband, and it appeared they had been spying on me quite recently!

Apparently, they were  actually interested in Gloria, who lived with me at the time. Gloria had been to Nicaragua with the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee, providing technical assistance to the Sandinistas.  Back in the 1980s, during the  Reagan Administration, we weren’t  at ‘war’ in Nicaragua, but Reagan used  his ‘descretionary funding’ to provide support for the CONTRAS, who were fighting  socialism.  He called them ‘freedom fighters’.  Never mind that there probably over a dozen political parties in Nicaragua at the time, & Daniel Ortega had won a ‘free & fair’ election.  Our ‘American’ attitude was tha the Nicaraguans had voted int he wrong guy and the wrong party!

The spying on American radical activists was a carryover from Nixon (apparently, there were so few criminals for the FBI to spy on, they had to spy on people doing nothing illegal). It was quite controversial.

So, anyways, Gloria had gone to Nicaragua, and was now living with me, and  according to the nonblacked out parts of the file, a couple of guys were watching the house.  How would we not know this?  We lived in west Lakeview at the time, before it became Yuppieville, and wouldn’t have noticed a strange car on the street due to all the activity What is  particularly funny about this is that they didn’t have photos of us, and they  followed my tenant. We’ll call her ‘Susan’.

Susan was a figure model (that’s how I knew her), art student, and delivered singing telegrams for extra income.  According to the FBI notes, they followed her from the house, dressed as a clown,  carrying helium filled balloons, down a circuitous route to  where she was going–thinking SHE was ME.

WE had a good laugh over it, & I believe I wrote to the FBI & told them they followed the wrong person, but I never heard back from them.  I still have the papers in my file cabinet.  Gloria never did file  the FOIA request for her file.

Even though I had to be fingerprinted to get into Peace Corps, and told them straight out that I had an FBI file, it didn’t matter at all.  One branch of the government rarely speaks to another branch.

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2 Responses to “How I got my FBI FIle”

  1. foreign_currency_trading Says:

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    • disparateinterests Says:

      Thanks so much. You can see all my interests are ‘disparate’. There are people in recycling who don’t know I am an Africanist, dog fanicers who don’t know I am a ‘radical activist’, and few know I worked as a figure model for artists & photographers.

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