The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, and Liberace are among those who turn up in FBI “High Visibility” memos obtained by the Associated Press under a Freedom Of Information Act request covering 1974 to this year. Included are references to celebrities from A (Louis Armstrong) to Kaye (Danny) to Z (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). The AP request produced more than 500 redacted memos totaling nearly 1,500 pages — a stack of documents 6 inches high.
The February 2001 paperwork on film director Otto Preminger’s file mentioned “all of the information on Preminger’s desire to be a source for the FBI is being withheld.” Until now. The presence of a file or a memo doesn’t necessarily mean the subject was targeted for an investigation. The FBI won’t divulge its exact number of files, but it could total more than 6 million. The agency has long maintained that its era of surveillance for political purposes is over, reflecting changes that followed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972. The high-visibility memorandums were generated for a number of reasons: the notoriety of the requester, if the request could reveal improper FBI activities; and if the request comes from a story-seeking journalist.