Monday, October 31, 2011

FBI: No File on Frank Kameny

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is getting better with its response time to FOIA requesters. It's not been even a month since gay icon and pioneer Frank Kameny passed away, and my Freedom of Information Act request for any and all materials the agency may have on him was submitted, triggering a search of FBI archives and the apparent lack of a file.

This letter arrived on Saturday, informing me of the following details:

Based on the information you provided, we conducted a search of the Central Records System. We were unable to identify main file records responsive to the FOIA. If you have additional information pertaining to the subject that you believe was of investigative interest to the Bureau, please provide us the details and we will conduct an additional search.

It strikes me as very odd the FBI says it has no file on Kameny - a man who picketed the White House in October 1965 and engaged in many other actions and protests that I would think caught the attention of the agency.

As Frank's survivors sort out his personal papers, I hope they keep an eye out for any indication Frank requested his own FBI file or information about why the agency may have put him under surveillance or subjected to an investigation. There may be reason for me to request further searching of the FBI archive.

Here's the FBI letter:

5 comments:

Paul Barwick said...

It seems highly unlikely that there are no records. Back in the '70s my friends and I all requested our FBI records under the Freedom of Information Act and we all were on record for our gay rights activism. We were nowhere near as well known as Mr. Kameny.

By the way, the Obama Justice department is working to gut the FOI act. Read this and weep: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/10/feds-embrace-foia-lying/

NG said...

No file? Yeah, okay...
And in other news, J Edgar Hoover was not gay.

Bob Roehr said...

They also have argued in court recently that an agency can claim that a report does not exist if the proper official did not read it. Thus, even if the agency commissioned or wrote a report and it was delivered, it does not have to be released under FOIA if it wasn't read. and therefore is not subject to release under FOIA.

Michael said...

i'll be in touch with frank's survivors and see what they have to say about all this. it seems very unlikely the FBI has nothing on him.

Thomas Kraemer said...

This is hard to believe given that the Christian Republican conservative homophile W. Dorr Legg had a FBI file that included detailed home addresses in Corvallis, Oregon (home of Oregon State University where Legg was a professor before doing his Mattachine activism in Los Angeles, CA). The FBI file at one point incorrectly calls it University of Oregon, which is in Eugene, Oregon, instead of OSU (these two schools are arch rivals just 40 miles apart).

I recently found a copy of Legg's FBI file in the OSU personnel records, which recently became public due to the age of the records (I looked thanks to a tip from Mike Petrelis). Legg mysteriously resigned -- I don't know if the FBI probe was the reason.