Jack Anderson’s Family Fighting FBI Effort to See the Late Columnist’s Papers

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By: E&P Staff

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to see Jack Anderson’s papers before anyone else does, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education. The family of the late investigative journalist plans to fight that FBI request.

Anderson, who died last December at age 83, wrote the “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column that United Media syndicated to hundreds of newspapers. His papers are contained in about 200 boxes held by George Washington University’s library, according to Scott Carlson’s Chronicle article.

“During his life and career as a muckraking journalist in Washington, Jack Anderson cultivated secret sources throughout the halls of government — sources who passed on information that allowed Anderson to investigate and write about Watergate, CIA assassination schemes, and countless scandals,” wrote Carlson, adding that the late columnist’s archive “could be a trove of information about state secrets, dirty dealings, political maneuverings, and old-fashioned investigative journalism, open for historians and up-and-coming reporters to see.”

But FBI agents, the article added, have told university officials and members of the Anderson family that they want to go through the archive and remove any items they feel are confidential or top-secret.

Were he alive today, Anderson “would probably come out of his skin at the thought of the FBI going through his papers,” said Kevin Anderson, the journalist’s son, as quoted by the Chronicle. Taking papers would “destroy any academic, scholarly, and historic value” of the archive, he added.

Observers said the FBI’s request is part of a renewed emphasis on secrecy in government. Tracy Mitrano, an adjunct assistant professor of information science at Cornell University, told the Chronicle that the case is “utterly alarming.” She added: “Once you begin taking records out of library archives that researchers rely on for free inquiry and research purposes, it would be very difficult not to see it as a slippery slope toward government controlling research in higher education and our collective understanding of American history.”

The FBI declined to comment for the article.

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