Wednesday, April 19, 2006

What a difference the decayed makes

The NYTimes reports that the FBI is trying to get its hands on all of the collected notes and records of the great old investigative journalist Jack Anderson. The FBI says it expects to find classified documents, but it only has a particular investigation of suspected Israeli spying as a justification for taking the "potential" evidence.

Jack Anderson died in 1983 and Parkinson's disease curtailed most of his activity for a decade prior to his death. Nothing newer than 1983 could be in these papers. If indeed there are classified documents among them, they were there a quarter century ago. And Anderson was never on the FBI's list of friends. So why now? What is different all of a sudden from the situation a decade ago when those papers, no longer the notes of living journalist, contained what could only have been fresher material than they do today? The administration of the federal government that we now endure exhibits a mindset far more like the paranoid and rights-shredding FBI of the 1950's. Finding politically propitious moments to settle old personal scores is uncivil and should be unamerican. As a re-emerging institutional reflex, it resembles Levrenty Beria's way of operating secret intelligence services more than any American should tolerate.

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