In the past I have done some very special research for my books. By “special “ I mean to say research that cannot be found by the average person. I required help from the CIA and the FBI.
Under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) a researcher can find all kind of useful information. For instance, I had a cousin who traipsed all over Europe after WWII, sometimes in Iron Curtain countries, for fun and profit. He owned several companies that dealt with the Federal Government, too. So I was sure the FBI had a file on him. The CIA, too. But I was more interested in his domestic activities, so I did not ask the CIA for information.
At first, the FBI only wanted proof that my subject was really dead. So I had to round up an obituary from 1967. And then the ___ hit the fan.
It just so happened that when I asked for information on my cousin, the Clinton Administration was found to have 900 private FBI files of Republican opponents and a big, embarrassing stink ensued. The FBI became very skittish about releasing information. They stalled and stalled. But after a couple of years I got a few redacted papers. They concerned mostly Jimmy Hoffa, the late (and still missing) president of the Teamsters. It seems the FBI was investigating my cousin’s companies to see if the Teamsters had been shaking down them down. The Teamsters were clean.
Well, now I am investigating another person, not a cousin, who may have been involved in “Operation Paperclip,” right after WWII. This was not a popular Truman program that allowed the U.S. to seize German papers, equipment, and scientists involved in rocket science and in atomic energy projects. If the scientists were Nazis, then their records were cleaned up. The purpose was a) to help the U.S. and b) to keep the information and scientists out of Russian hands.
On paper, my subject reported to Dr. Carl David Anderson of CalTech. Anderson was the man who turned down control of the Manhattan Project in favor of his friend, J. Robert Oppenheimer. In reality, my subject reported directly to President Roosevelt first and then to President Truman. He was a friendly spy among the presidents’ advisors.
I have requested information by FAX from both the FBI and the CIA. Fortunately, my subject’s widow is alive and alert, and she is quite anxious to find out what her husband was really up to during years as WWII wound down and the Cold War sprang up. He was never allowed to tell her.
And yes, the FBI has responded by asking for proof of the death of my subject. They will not accept their own government’s Social Security Death Index as proof of death. Maybe they do not trust the government.
Science writing Government Freedom of Information Act CalTech Operation Paperclip FBI CIA