Friday, September 4, 2015

FOIA FBI Background Check on Anna Rosenberg

In recent years there has been a variety of issues that involve security background checks and the questions people have about what information is kept on them. But the examples used of government files are not representative because they are usually of people who are very involved in a variety of non-trivial, non-subtle and controversial areas.

A classic example of that in today's news is the FOIA request by Laura Poitras who has been detained by Homeland Security whenever she has entered or left the country and received various “no fly” judgments on attempting to board an aircraft. I am sure that her file is quite interesting and I am also sure that when we see it, it will be the kind of unusual or controversial file that I am referring to above. Why? Because, as Ms. Poitras knows very well, she is under suspicion for and is certainly a collaborator in what is probably the single most damaging and extraordinary intelligence disaster in the history of this country, possibly any country. So of course she is being investigated, and of course the file will contain intelligence information as well as information that is part of various criminal investigations that have not yet completed (and for which charges have not (yet) been filed).

But what does a normal file look like, one that is of a serious and senior professional who has worked for the government, worked for private industry and knows many people, some of whom are or were presidents of the United States, and some of whom were certainly controversial in one way or another, in this case because they were heavily involved in the labor movement of the 1930s.

I happened to come across an online version of the FBI background check file on Anna Rosenberg who was a labor relations consultant before and after WW 2.  She was attacked by the House UnAmerican Activities Committee during the McCarthy period when she was nominated for a government post. She served on a variety of government committees that involved labor relations particularly as it involved the war effort. She worked directly for Pres. Roosevelt at various times.

I think that her FBI file is well worth glancing act to see what is involved, the kinds of questions they asked, the things they noted that caused them concern, etc.

True, this is about a person from another era, a post WW 2 era, but I suspect it has things in common with similar activities today (e.g. extended background checks on people nominated for government service or who require a security clearance). The Internet makes this process easier, but by no means does it do all the work that needs to be done.

So if you are interested in such things, take a fast look at this. It can be found at

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