June 16, 2010

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Telegram sent to J Edgar Hoover (from 94-HQ-55752 Section 1)

June 6, 1968
Please make certain that Ted Kennedy gets all the protection he needs. We are down to one Kennedy. Thanks

[redacted] Tepco Corp

The FBI released a large set of documents under the FOIA today, spanning the period from 1961 through 1986. The image was one of the milder communications received by the FBI in 1968. Expressions of concern for and threats against Ted Kennedy seemed to roll into FBI headquarters daily. I have only now completed the first series (1961-July 1968), but two things stand out for me: the unhingement of the right wing over communism and civil rights; and how similar the extreme rhetoric of 1968 is to the routine rhetoric of today.

From the same file quoted above, page 136, on June 10, 1968:

Mr. [redacted] stated that during the course of the gathering they talked about Senator Robert F. Kennedy and the recent events occurring in Los Angeles, CAlifornia. He said that Mr. [redacted] then questioned himself and Mr [redacted] as to their religious beliefs, which happened to be Episcopalian. Mr. [redacted] stated that 'Mr. [redacted] then brought up the subject of the K.K.K., and his short harangue ran along the lines of 'I said: K.K.K. - Kennedy, King, and Kennedy. Get it? K.K.K. Now there is only one to go -- Teddy.'".

Another incident on June 20, 1968 describes a situation where a man went into a bank, walked up to a bank officer's desk and pounded his fist on it while saying, "The damned KENNEDYS," and "I have a gun." In 1968 actions like that sent people to mental institutions for therapy and observation, which is how that case was resolved.

One of the more bizarre letters I've seen so far (and I'm only about halfway through) was sent on May 18, 1985. In it, the writer took aim at Kennedy and Ronald Reagan in a rambling rant. As unhinged as this writer is, there are some poignant reminders in her profanity-laden letter:

Look, you know what's going on and it's a felony not to help my familie's [sic], my mom and me. You know the whole story and you know you should have got my mom out of the ground with me there and take her to a hospital and fix her, a--hole and give her glucose and blood and be patient with her because it might take awhile for her to come out of it.

and this:

These pilots mean this stuff. They aren't playing games.

May 13, 1985 was the day the City of Philadelphia tear-gassed the MOVE headquarters before dropping a bomb on it, killing 11 people (including 5 children) and destroying 65 homes.

It doesn't take much to wonder if the author's anger at losing her home(s) and reference to pilots "meaning this stuff" has anything to do with that incident. The letter itself is just a complete profanity-laced disjointed rant, sort of like things we see on blogs and Twitter all the time now.

Profilers concluded that the author was "ventilating her frustrations and projecting her inadequacies. Her intention is to shock in order to gain attention." They went on to conclude this in a memo dated December 6, 1985:

Although the subject's ideation is clearly paranoid, the message lacks the indicators of the resolve or the determination to carry out her threats.

The notable difference between how this woman and the man in the bank were treated is clear. Rather than being interviewed by Glenn Beck and Fox & Friends (along with CNN and all the other major news outlets), both of the threateners were determined to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, they were committed to mental institutions and the cases were closed.

Today, they get paid a lot of money to "shock in order to gain attention."

Today, they would be hailed as leaders of the Tea Party movement.


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