Imagine all the agents ..

Click to follow
The Independent Online
For a moment in the early 1970s, the FBI was more interested in fighting Lennonism than Leninism. The Nixon White House, in the paranoid period that gave the world Watergate, instructed J Edgar Hoover to dig up as much dirt as possible on the ex-Beatle John Lennon.

Just as the FBI men thought they were making progress, the ground was cut from under them by the discovery that Lennon was a member of President Richard Nixon's Council for Drug Abuse. An FBI official lamented the irony of this to H R Haldeman, Nixon's chief of staff, but promised increased surveillance to 'neutralise' the star and have him deported to Britain.

After more than a decade of legal battles, the FBI has been forced under the Freedom of Information Act to disgorge its more sensitive files on its pursuit of John Lennon and his wife, Yoko Ono. Agents' reports and memos to the White House show that Lennon's claims of political persecution - often dismissed as paranoia at the time - were wholly justified.

Already suspicious of Lennon as an anti-war activist, the FBI became excited by the discovery in 1972 that he had given dollars 75,000 (then pounds 32,000) to an anti-war organisation which it believed was planning to disrupt the Republican convention renominating Nixon. Confident at first that this group would 'wither on the vine' when Lennon was deported, the FBI finally admitted it might not be able to get him out of the country before the convention.

'Subject's activities are being closely followed,' said a memo to Haldeman. The hope was that, if caught with drugs, he could be deported immediately. As a minor act of vengeance the FBI reported 'plans to request mental examination of both Lennons'.

FBI men dogged Lennon, page 11

Comments