Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Writer William T. Vollmann Uncovers His FBI File

This has been a banner week for NPR (hard to believe I wrote this)


Below is a sample, I recommend the interview and I will be locating Harpers to read his article.

GREENE: In an essay out today in Harper's magazine, William T. Vollmann details his first brush with the FBI. It was in 1990, after he was connected to the controversial photographer Jock Sturges, whose work includes nudes of adolescent girls and their families. At the time, Sturges was being investigated by the agency. He was later cleared.

Perhaps most alarming, he discovered in his heavily redacted file that he was considered a terrorist suspect even after the Unabomber had been apprehended in 1996. After the 9/11 attacks, he realizes, “I had graduated from being a Unabomber suspect to being an anthrax suspect.” Even today, his international mail often arrives opened. A private investigator explains to him: “Once you’re a suspect and you’re in the system, that ain’t goin’ away. . . . Anytime there’s a terrorist investigation, your name’s gonna come up.”

It’s a terrifying essay, only sporadically leavened by gallows humor. Vollmann admits that he’s hardly the worst victim of our overzealous government. But anyone who cares about the unraveling of our civil rights and the destruction of the American way of life should heed this chilling and deeply personal story. What he describes is a mostly invisible and completely impervious class of bureaucrats — he calls them “the Unamericans” — who systematically violate our privacy and disregard the presumption of innocence. The worst irony, of course, is they do this under the guise of protecting us.

No comments:

Post a Comment