Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts
Showing posts with label FBI. Show all posts

June 10, 2020

The FBI Infiltrated Gay Orgs During the Purple Scare of 1961

The lavender scare: How the federal government purged gay ...
You heard about the red scare of the fifties in which there was a communist undeer almost every bed but How About the purple scare? FBI went for the gays and infiltrated orgs.You don't have to be gay to laugh at that and you don't have to be gay to know that many times in our history the government was not, is not, our friend.


A story of queer liberation is concealed in a dystopian-looking crypt in Washington, D.C.
You can’t find it under the gilded ceiling and marble columns of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building. Instead, you have to enter the mammoth, rectangular Madison Building next door. The harsh lights and linoleum floors make it feel morguelike. In its windowless manuscripts room, uniformed archivists slowly wheel out boxes of documents from the depths of the building.
 Only in this austere setting can you begin to understand the sheer magnitude of the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in America, which resulted from the Lavender Scare, the government’s systematic persecution of “sexually deviant” federal employees in the 1950s and 1960s. Thousands of American citizens lost their jobs because the government learned they were “perverts,” morally inferior, and therefore susceptible to blackmail by Communists. But a decade before the June 1969 uprising against police harassment led by trans and gender nonconforming bar patrons that became known as the Stonewall Riots, one disgraced federal employee fought back.
Frank Kameny, an under-recognized grandfather of the gay rights movement, was a victim of the Lavender Scare. A Harvard-educated astronomer, he had always dreamed of going to space, but after the government learned of his sexual orientation, he was barred from working for his country ever again. To protest, he founded the Mattachine Society of Washington, and he became the first openly gay man to testify in Congress on behalf of the homosexual minority, the first to protest at the White House to call for the end of the gay purges, and the first to declare—first in his legal writing, and later on a picket sign—that to be gay was morally good.
Kameny kept virtually every letter he ever sent or received—tens of thousands of them. Shortly before he died, he sold his vast collection of personal papers, which the Library of Congress now holds in the Madison Building: letters, notes, meeting minutes, and legal files. 
If these documents were piled on top of one another, the stack would rise taller than a six-story building. I’ve spent the past seven years—first as an undergraduate, then as a PhD student—digitizing and analyzing these documents for the first time. They now form the backbone of my forthcoming book, The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America, which follows Kameny in an astonishing series of unprecedented fights against the U.S. government. 
I’ve also spent the past several years researching the national context of Kameny’s story: I researched the stories of queer Black activists like Bayard Rustin, who influenced Kameny’s own strategy. I unearthed thousands of recently declassified legal transcripts and government documents, including a 1,000-page FBI file that details the government’s surveillance and infiltration of Kameny’s organization. And I examined archives to understand the stories of other LGBTQ activists in New York and California, including trans heroes like Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson. From these documents, and from dozens of hours of personal interviews with surviving activists of Kameny's era and beyond, I pieced together a long-hidden picture of the diverse and interconnected struggle for LGBTQ equality.
For a historian, there’s no better feeling, after combing through thousands of documents, than discovering one that changes how we understand our past. It’s my hope to make that feeling available to anyone. For this reason, I’ve made over 117,000 pages of LGBTQ historical documents available online at The Deviant’s ArchiveThe Deviant’s War is almost entirely predicated on the documents in this collection, and other stories are almost certainly hidden in their pages. 
Below are 10 of the most revelatory documents I found. They offer just a glimpse of Frank Kameny’s war against the United States federal government, and a picture of the wider pre-Stonewall struggle against federal interrogators, bigoted congressmen, and the FBI—a fight that grew throughout the Sixties and exploded in scale after Stonewall. Their struggle continues today, and knowing the history of our movement allows us to learn from their successes and mistakes as we continue fighting.

In 1956, Dr. Franklin E. Kameny’s future looked exceedingly bright. The young astronomer was known as a sardonic man who seldom made mistakes; he had just graduated from Harvard with a PhD in astronomy. The Space Race, the competition between the US and the Soviet Union to reach and dominate outer space, was beginning. The government desperately needed scientists like Kameny to develop the technologies that would allow America to travel to space. But during an astronomy conference in San Francisco, Kameny was arrested in a San Francisco public restroom with another man—two police officers had spied on the restroom from the ceiling, watching the pair from behind a ventilation grill. Sixty years later, I found the police report in Kameny’s papers at the Library of Congress.
A year after his arrest, Kameny was working on a Department of Defense project in Hawaii when he received this letter. The Civil Service Commission (CSC), the governmental bureau responsible for determining whether federal workers were suitable for federal employment, had discovered Kameny’s arrest record. The government summoned Kameny immediately to Washington, marking the beginning of his first battle against the gay purges.
After weeks of uncertainty, CSC subjected Kameny to a series of humiliating interviews. The interrogators asked him repeatedly about his sex life: “Dr. Kameny, have you engaged actively or passively in any oral act of coition, anal intercourse, or mutual masturbation with another person of the same sex?” Each time, Kameny refused to answer. This transcript was especially difficult to find: After searching for the record in archives across Washington, I finally tracked it down to a federal storage facility in Kansas City. I was lucky to be able to find them: hundreds of thousands of other documents like this one, including those inside the FBI’s massive Sex Deviates file––collected by then–FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover in his surveillance of LGBTQ Americans––have been destroyed, likely to cover up countless invasions of privacy. 
At first, Kameny thought that he’d be able to explain himself out of the situation. He argued that the San Francisco arrest had been a misunderstanding. The government fired him nonetheless, claiming he had falsified a government document when he had admitted his arrest was for disorderly conduct rather than lewd behavior and loitering. Kameny was forever barred from working in the aerospace industry. Thrust into poverty, Kameny fought back: He became the first openly gay man to petition the Supreme Court for LGBTQ equality. He wrote his brief, which simply requested a trial, without an attorney, and the document became a revolutionary manifesto for gay rights. In its most significant passage, Kameny declared that homosexuality was not immoral, as the government claimed, but morally good. A decade before Stonewall Riots, Kameny was declaring his pride.
After Kameny's Supreme Court effort failed, he turned to organizing. He and 15 other gay men met in the Hay-Adams Hotel in Washington, directly across from the White House, to create a new organization of homosexuals: The Mattachine Society of Washington (MSW). The 16 men, dressed in business attire, discussed by-laws and the dry logistics of building a new organization. But the FBI was listening. According to a recently declassified 1,000-page FBI file, the hotel manager eavesdropped on the meeting and reported back to the FBI, and the meeting's summary went straight to J. Edgar Hoover's desk.The Bureau learned that homosexuals—who, in the government’s eyes, were national security risks—were organizing only a few hundred feet from the White House.
After cross-referencing the FBI file with Kameny’s personal papers, I made a startling discovery: The FBI successfully recruited an informant within the Society, and this individual handed a list of dozens of alleged homosexuals over to the FBI. Several careers—several lives—were likely ruined. The extent of the infiltration, including the informant’s motivation for betraying his fellow homosexuals (another Mattachine member had cheated on him) has never been revealed before. And in this document, the FBI reports on the MSW’s first public event: a lecture by pioneering gay author Donald Webster Cory. The informant reported that Cory had merely followed the “party line” of the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement. 
A few months later, a U.S. congressman from Texas, John Dowdy, was enraged to learn about an organization of homosexuals in the District of Columbia and introduced legislation to ban the organization. Frank Kameny, who was still avoiding public declarations of his homosexuality, became the first openly gay man to testify before Congress, defending his organization during a two-day saga of questioning designed specifically to humiliate the witness.
Four days later, Strom Thurmond stood on the floor of the Senate to announce that the organizer of the upcoming March on Washington, Bayard Rustin, was a sexual pervert. The move backfired: The Black Freedom Movement rallied around Rustin, and the March became a historic event: hundreds of thousands of Americans demanded action on racial inequality from the federal government, which then enacted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. At the March, Frank Kameny stood in the crowd, listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech alongside a delegation of gay members of Mattachine Society of Washington. Almost immediately after the march, the FBI received intelligence that homosexuals, inspired by the event, intended to begin demonstrating themselves, something that had never been done before.
Early in my research, I was surprised to learn that the Society organized its first demonstration in Washington in front of the White House as a response to news from Cuba: Fidel Castro’s government had announced plans to send sexual deviants to labor camps. At this historic march, seven men and three women (all white) marched silently in a circle, comparing Cuba’s policies to those of the United States. To project professionalism and respectability, Kameny demanded that all of the demonstrators wore suits or dresses. But the press, distracted by a massive anti-war march the same day, ignored the pro–LGBTQ rights protest. The protestors resolved to march once again.
There are 23 photographs in my book, and this one is my favorite. At a Mattachine demonstration in front of the State Department protesting the gay purges, federal investigators were watching. By photographing license plates, faces, and picket signs, the investigators hoped to identify the homosexuals and remove them from their federal jobs. The marchers knew this, but marched nonetheless. In this photograph, you can see a demonstrator staring straight into the camera. The activists continued marching each Fourth of July until 1969, when Stonewall changed everything. Within months, the annual marches had transformed into a new tradition: a holiday called Pride. T
The Deviant’s Archive includes 117,000 additional documents, ranging from radical lesbian newsletters to interrogation transcripts from inside the Pentagon, and I reference only a fraction of them in the book. I hope that this “open sourcing” of history will inspire other scholars, whether they’re trained historians or curious members of the LGBTQ community, to continue unearthing hidden parts of our past—in this collection, and in other archives across the country. Today’s America teaches us that we can’t afford to forget the lessons of the past: how to be vigilant, how to work together, and how to fight back. But we have to search for those lessons first. Then, we have to share them with the world.

September 28, 2019

The File on Trumps' Late McCarthy Lawyer ROY COHN Released By FBI

The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on controversial lawyer Roy Cohn, whose clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures.

Cohn was at least the first of two personal lawyers for Trump to be disbarred. The second was Trump’s more recent attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who gave porn star Stormy Daniels hush money to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump.
GP: Donald Trump Roy Cohn Trump Tower Opening
GP: Donald Trump Roy Cohn Trump Tower Opening
Roy Cohn (L) and Donald Trump attend the Trump Tower opening in October 1983 at The Trump Tower in New York City.

(Sonia Moskowitz | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images)

The FBI on Friday released nearly 750 pages of documents from the bureau’s file on the late Roy Cohn, the controversial, hyper-aggressive lawyer whose high-profile clients included President Donald Trump when Trump was a fledgling real estate mogul in New York City.

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” Trump has been quoted lamenting when he was faced with political and legal pressures.

Cohn was famous — and infamous — for his work for Sen. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin in the 1950s investigating suspected infiltration by communists in U.S. government agencies, as well as his role prosecuting Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for stealing American atomic secrets.

In the Rosenberg case, Cohn later admitted to conversations with the trial judge outside of the presence of the Rosenberg lawyers — a serious ethical breach by both Cohn and the judge.

The Big Apple bon vivant Cohn also was an associate of the admitted Republican dirty trickster Roger Stone, another Trump ally.

Stone currently is under indictment for lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing justice, charges related to his alleged efforts to get WikiLeaks to release emails stolen from Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

The release of the FBI’s Cohn files comes on the heels of a new documentary that uses Trump’s quote “Where’s my Roy Cohn?” as its title.

The vast majority of the FBI files include details of an investigation into Cohn for perjury, conspiracy and obstruction of justice in connection with a grand jury probe of an alleged $50,000 bribe Cohn paid the then-chief assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan to keep several stock swindlers from being indicted in 1959.

Cohn was found not guilty after a trial in that case in 1964.

A number of the files were sent directly to J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI’s director at the time, and reflect the bureau’s painstaking efforts to acquire information about trips by Cohn to Las Vegas in 1959, and other evidence, in connection with the bribery case.

One memo that was sent in July 1962 to both Hoover and then-Attorney General Robert Kennedy details the claim by a source of the FBI’s Las Vegas office.

The source said that gamblers in that city, worried about “extreme pressure” being applied by the federal government on the Nevada gambling industry, had approached the Justice Department’s criminal division chief “to determine whether he would ‘trade Las Vegas’ for ‘Roy Cohn.’”

The Justice Department’s division chief “flatly rejected” that approach, the source told the FBI.

A small part of the files released Friday include a letter that Cohn sent Hoover in 1969 when Cohn was being prosecuted on other federal criminal charges, for which he ultimately was acquitted.

Cohn’s clients after his acquittal included Trump, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, and Carmine Galante and “Fat Tony” Salerno, suspected Mafia chieftains. He also numbered among his celebrity friends President Ronald Reagan’s wife, Nancy.

“Trump introduced himself to Cohn, who was sitting at a nearby table, and sought advice: How should he and his father respond to Justice Department allegations that their company had systematically discriminated against black people seeking housing?”″ The Post reported.

“My view tells them to go to hell,” Cohn said, according to the Post. “And fight the thing in court.”

Cohn eventually filed a $100 million countersuit against the Justice Department for its allegations against Trump’s company. After that suit failed, Trump settled the Justice Department’s claims out of court.

Cohn died in 1986 from complications of AIDS, less than two months after being disbarred for professional ethics violations.

Despite years of using rumors about the homosexuality of his foes to smear them, Cohn himself was gay. He claimed until his death that he had liver disease, not AIDS.

Cohn’s closeted sexuality, ruthlessness against alleged communists and role as a bete noire of the left in the United States led to him being featured as a prominent character in Tony Kushner’s landmark play, “Angels in America.” Al Pacino portrayed Cohn in the HBO adaptation of that drama.

NBC archive footage shows Trump partying with Jeffrey Epstein in 1992
Cohn was one of two personal lawyers for Trump to be disbarred, in his case for a range of misconduct.

The second was Trump’s more recent attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, who is serving a three-year federal prison term for crimes that include ones related to a hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual tryst with Trump in the mid-2000s.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels or with another woman, Playboy model Karen McDougal, who received another hush money payout before the 2016 election that was facilitated by Cohen.

Earlier this week, a relative of Cohn’s wrote a column for Politico Magazine entitled “I’m Roy Cohn’s Cousin. He Would Have Detested Trump’s Russia Fawning.”

“My cousin Roy Marcus Cohn—counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy, consigliere to Mafia bosses, mentor to Donald Trump—had almost no principles,” the column by David Marcus said.

“He smeared Jews even though he was Jewish. He tarred Democrats even though he was a Democrat. He persecuted gay people even though he was gay. Yet throughout his life, he held fast to one certainty: Russia and America were enemies,” Marcus wrote.

“Roy often told me the Kremlin blamed the U.S. for Russia’s failure to prosper, so Russian leaders were bent on destroying our democracy. If Roy had lived another 30 years, I’m sure he’d be pleased to learn that his protégé was elected president. But I am equally sure Roy would be appalled by Trump’s obsequious devotion to ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin.”

— Additional reporting by CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger.

August 13, 2019

Some Times There is a Story That Makes You Smile: Kidnapped Boy 5 Saved by FBI Agent, Now 22


Special Agent Troy Sowers wanted something simple for his retirement from the FBI. "I asked for coffee and doughnuts," he said. 
Instead, he got a surprise: a visit from the baby boy he rescued from a kidnapper 22 years ago on one of his first assignments in the FBI. 
In 1997, Sowers was new on the job at the FBI's Tacoma Resident Agency when a woman posing as a doctor kidnapped a newborn baby boy from St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood, Wash. 
Sowers and his colleagues began an arduous, 19-hour search for the infant. After the kidnapper was apprehended by police, she led Sowers to the baby boy. Hours before her arrest, the kidnapper had left the infant in a cardboard box behind a convenience store. 
Sowers is retiring from the FBI as special agent in charge of the bureau's field office in Knoxville, Tenn. At his retirement ceremony on Friday, his colleague, Knoxville Assistant Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks, held up a photo of a Marine. 
The FBI reports

Rembert said it was a privilege to meet the man who saved his life. "I was just really ecstatic, that they would come to me 22 years later," Rembert said. 
Rembert, now a corporal in the Marines based out of Camp Lejeune, said he didn't learn about the kidnapping until he was about 5 years old. 
"I was happy to tell him that I'm living a good life, and I'm going to continue living a good life," Rembert told the FBI. "His efforts that day, and all of his efforts since, made a difference."
Sowers said meeting Rembert was a great surprise. "I'm proud of anybody that serves others above themselves," said Sowers. "The fact that he is now doing that makes that case even more special."

September 29, 2018

Thank To Sen Jeff Flake White House Orders An FBI Investigation to Find Facts About Judge Kavanaugh

Trump's statements appear to have backed off a bit from the defiant attack on Democrats for a "search and destroy strategy" against the nominee that he tweeted Thursday night.

Speaking to reporters at the White House before a meeting with Chile's President Sebastián Piñera, Trump said that undecided senators must do what makes them "comfortable" regarding his nomination, adding that he had "no message whatsoever" for the senators who now face a vote to confirm Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court Justice.

"They have to do what they think is right," he said. "There is no message whatsoever. They have to do what they think is right. They have to be comfortable with themselves and I’m sure that’s what they want."
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday voted to advance Kavanaugh's nomination, but only after Republican Sen. Jeff Flake called for a one-week delay on a final vote to allow the FBI to investigate the sexual misconduct allegations.

 GOP Sem Jeff Flake, with the weight of the Senate on his shoulders

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake after speaking during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sept. 28, 2018.
Flake said he would oppose moving forward with Kavanaugh's nomination in the full Senate if Republicans try to bring it up before then.
Asked about the delay, Trump said, "I’m going to let the Senate handle that."
"They’ll make their decisions," he added. "They’ve been doing a good job and very professional. I’m just hearing a little bit about it because I’ve been with the president of Chile and we're talking about some very important subjects. I’m sure it will all be very good."

"I guess the vote was a positive vote but there seems to be a delay. I’ll learn more about it as the day goes on. I just heard about it because we were together."
Look at Senator (R) Jeff Flake. His face shows all the turmoil he is going through and his disagreement at all the political wrangling. Getting an FBI investigation should be the least to ask about of an appointment of this magnitude when there is a credible testimony from a credible witness about Kavanaugh's behavior and maybe lying under oath.
Thanks to Se. Flake, there will be an FBI investigation and this locomotive will be delayed one more week or so until the FBI is done.

April 16, 2018

ComeyTells The Nation What Most of Us Already Know, "Trump is a Serial Lier"

Photo: Ralph Alswang/ABC via Getty Images

In an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "20/20" tonight, former FBI director James Comey said that Trump is "morally unfit to be president" and that the American public was "duty bound" to vote him out of office in 2020. 
His key line: “You cannot have, as president of the United States, someone who does not reflect the values that I believe Republicans treasure and Democrats treasure and independents treasure. That is the core of this country. That’s our foundation. And so impeachment, in a way, would short-circuit that.”
More hot quotes from Comey in the ABC interview, some first obtained by the NYT:
  • On impeaching Trump: "I think impeaching and removing Donald Trump from office would let the American people off the hook and have something happen indirectly that I believe they're duty bound to do directly. People in this country need to stand up and go to the voting booth and vote their values."
  • On Charlottesville: "A person who sees moral equivalence in Charlottesville, who talks about and treats women like they are pieces of meat, who lies constantly about matters big and small and insists the American people believe it, that person's not fit to be president of the United States, on moral grounds."
  • On Trump's intelligence: "I don't buy this stuff about him being mentally incompetent or early stages of dementia. He strikes me as a person of above average intelligence who's tracking conversations and knows what's going on."
  • On the most salacious allegations in the Steele dossier: "I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don't know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013. It's possible, but I don't know."
  • On investigating Hillary Clinton's emails: "Of course, at the time, I had no idea that I could make both halves angry at us, but we'll come to that later. But the deputy director who was a great deputy director and a longtime special agent, looked at me and said, 'You know you're totally screwed, right?' And I smiled. And I said, 'Yup. Nobody gets out alive.'
  • On his comment that Clinton exercised "extreme carelessness:" "I wasn't trying to go easy on her or hard on her. I was trying to be honest and clear with the American people. What she did was really sloppy."
  • On Trump's reluctance to criticize Vladimir Putin: "I can understand the arguments why the president of the United States might not want to criticize the leader of another country...But you would think that in private-- talking to the F.B.I. director, whose job it is to thwart Russian attacks, you might acknowledge that this enemy of ours is an enemy of ours. But I never saw. And so I don't know the reason. I really don't."
  • On his plane-ride home after being fired from the FBI: "I took a bottle of red wine out of my suitcase that I was bringing back from California, a California pinot noir, and I drank red wine from a paper coffee cup...And then I-- as-- we got close to the airport in Washington, I asked the pilots could I sit up with them, 'cause I'd never done it...And-- and then we shook hands with tears in our eyes and then I left and get driven home."
  • On possible obstruction of justice: "I woke up in the middle of the night and the thought hit me like a lightning bolt, like, 'Wait a minute. If there are tapes, he will be heard on that tape in the Oval Office asking me to let it go. There is corroboration or could be corroboration for the thing we thought we'll never be able to corroborate...'Of possible obstruction of justice. Somebody's gotta go get those tapes."
  • Published on Axios

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