The family of late newspaper columnist Jack Anderson has rejected an FBI request to turn over 50 years of files to agents who want to look for evidence in the prosecution of two pro-Israel lobbyists, as well as any classified documents Anderson had collected, the Washington Post says. Kevin Anderson, Jack Anderson’s son, said the family is outraged at what it calls government overreaching and “a dangerous departure” from First Amendment press protections, a stance joined by academic and legal experts.
In targeting the journalist’s files after his death, the government is widening its crackdown on leaks of sensitive information. FBI agents contacted the columnist’s 78-year-old widow about a month after his death seeking access to his reporting materials. Agents also contacted Mark Feldstein, an Anderson biographer who once worked for him and is now a George Washington University professor. Feldstein is helping to arrange the transfer of 188 cartons of material owned by the family from Brigham Young University to GWU. The clash was first reported by the Chronicle of Higher Education. FBI spokesman Bill Carter said: “It has been determined that, among the papers, there are a number of U.S. government documents containing classified information. Under the law, no private person may possess classified documents that were illegally provided to them. There is no legal basis under which a third party could retain them as part of an estate. The documents remain the property of the U.S. government.”