Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Christopher Hitchens Was the Subject of an FBI Foreign Counterintelligence Probe

First, the CIA Glomars a Hitchens- related FOIA request. Now the FBI is trying to dodge my FOIA requests regarding Christopher Hitchens. Upon his death, a FOIA request as submitted seeking all FBI records pertaining to Hitchens. In response, the FBI released 19 pages of previously released documents without giving me even the right of appeal. Nor did they bother to give me a sheet listing which pages they withheld so I am not even sure of the file’s size.

The released material is riddled with b(1) redactions with (S) and (C) written next to them. This means the withheld information, despite being years and even decades- old “could be expected to cause damage to the national security” in the case of confidential classified material or “serious damage to the national security” in the case of the Secret information.”

However, the FBI’s redactions and handling of the request does not preclude us from gloaming some insights from the released material. The first two pages of material are the newest and are from INS. They are name check requests conducted by the Immigration and Naturalization in March 2005.

The next five pages of material are heavily redacted but reveal that Hitchens was the subject of a 105 investigation. A 105- file is a file pertaining to “foreign counterintelligence”. Why Hitchens was the subject of a counterintelligence probe is withheld, but there is a discussion of his activities as a Oxford socialist/Trotskyist” and that it had been discovered that Hitchens might be traveling about the United States on a scholarship. However, searches by INS and State found no records on him, so it appears that the investigation was dropped.

Hitchens comes to FBI’s attention again in December 1981. However, the record in question is almost entirely withheld on “national security” grounds. The rest of the record relates to Hitchens activities in 1983. In the beginning of the year, the United States Secret Service request information on Hitchens “in connection with the granting of a press pass for admittance to the White House.”  The FBI responded back with several memorandum and airtels which have been withheld in their entirety on “national security” grounds. There is a essentially redacted teletype from July 1983 revealing that Hitchens is involved in some foreign counterintelligence investigation, but nothing more.  In August 1983, the FBI attaché in London reported to the director that they had no information on Hitchens' travel plans and some wholly- redacted information, information redacted on “national security” grounds.  The rest of the file deals with an autumn 1983 request by Hitchens to become a permanent resident.  Except for a background form filled out by Hitchens, most of the information is withheld on “national security” grounds.

Christopher Hitchens' FBI File