What was the FBI hiding about the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy’s sordid past?
Judicial Watch finally found out when we obtained previously redacted material from the FBI file of the late Massachusetts Democrat who died in August 2009 from brain cancer. We got the records pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, originally filed on June 9, 2010. And they make for a fascinating read.
Of particular interest is a December 28, 1961, FBI memo describing a tour of several Latin American countries taken by then-Assistant District Attorney of Suffolk County Kennedy.
Judicial Watch had previously obtained this very memo, but the document that was originally made public was almost completely redacted. After an initial challenge by Judicial Watch, a version with fewer redactions was released. Still not satisfied, our legal team continued to argue that the blackouts were baseless and, after six more months, the FBI relented.
So here are the statements the FBI tried to keep secret but were recently made available to Judicial Watch:
•”While Kennedy was in Santiago he made arrangements to ‘rent’ a brothel for an entire night. Kennedy allegedly invited one of the Embassy chauffeurs to participate in the night’s activities.”
•”[I]n each country Kennedy insisted on interviewing ‘the angry young men’ of the country. He wanted to meet with communists and others who had left-wing views. …Ambassador Freeman, Bogota, said the first person whom Kennedy wanted to meet was Lauchlin Currie.” (The document subsequently identifies Currie as a person who “had been mentioned in Washington investigations of Soviet spy rings.”)
•”[I]n Mexico Kennedy asked Ambassador Mann that certain left-wingers be invited to the Embassy residence where interviews could be held. Mann took the strong position that he would not invite such people and stated that if any such interviews were to be conducted, all arrangements should be made by Kennedy himself.”
All this is certainly consistent with another document in the Kennedy FBI file we uncovered last year, dated March 28, 1963.
The document details the FBI’s concern over a campaign by Ted and Robert Kennedy to pressure the State Department to allow Katalin Karady, a Hungarian émigré living in Brazil — described as “consistently refused an immigrant visa because of the voluminous subversive and derogatory data on file concerning her” — into the United States. Here’s a squib from the memo:
Legat, Rio de Janeiro, has furnished data from State Department files, Sao Paulo, Brazil indicating that in August, 1961, Edward and Robert Kennedy, now U.S. Senator and Attorney General, respectively, were interested in [Katalin Karady’s] obtaining an immigrant visa to U.S. Subject is former Hungarian actress of unsavory reputation who has now obtained the immigrant visa….
Subject, Hungarian-born, aged 48, is former well-known actress in Hungary. Numerous allegations have been received in the past indicating subject to have been a communist collaborator, lesbian, and prostitute. She has reportedly admitted being the fiancée of the head of Hungarian intelligence (Nazi) during World War II.
(FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover appears to have handwritten the note “I am speechless!” at the bottom of this memo.)
The FBI’s reluctance to follow the law and release this material shows that it, too, is not above politics. Our tough fight with the Obama administration shows that it was not keen on letting the American people know that Ted Kennedy, one of Obama’s leftist politician heroes, liked to hang out with communists and prostitutes. This story is as much about the Obama administration’s flouting of our transparency laws as it is about Ted Kennedy’s sketchy past.
(Or was it the Kennedy family who pressured the FBI to withhold this information? Last April, The Boston Globe reported that the FBI had decided to allow the Kennedy family to object to the release of certain documents citing privacy concerns: “Edward M. Kennedy’s family will be given a rare opportunity to raise objections before the public disclosure of thousands of pages of the late Massachusetts senator’s exhaustive and secret FBI file, according to bureau officials and advisers to the family.” And we know that the family, represented by none other than Obama pay czar Kenneth Feinberg, wanted none of the Kennedy FBI files released.)
We will continue to investigate why the FBI improperly chose to keep this information. But in the meantime, we are happy to have played a role in completing the public record of one of the most scandal-plagued and controversial politicians in modern political history.
Judicial Watch, through separate litigation, also recently forced the FBI to begin the release of their file the late Ted Stevens, the long-time Republican Senator from Alaska.