yea getting girls to do STEM fields is important but u know what else is important? that we stop devaluing feminized work like elderly and child care, support work, social work, teaching, etc. pls stop acting like STEM fields are the final frontier for women
In response to my request under the Freedom of Information Act, filed on behalf of CounterPunch, the FBI recently released 147 of Said’s 238-page FBI file. There are some unusual gaps in the released records, and it is possible that the FBI still holds far more files on Professor Said than they acknowledge. Some of these gaps may exist because new Patriot Act and National Security exemptions allow the FBI to deny the existence of records; however, the released file provides enough information to examine the FBI’s interest in Edward Said who mixed artistic appreciations, social theory, and political activism in powerful and unique ways.
The FBI’s first record of Edward Said appears in a February 1971 domestic security investigation of another unidentified individual. The FBI collected photographs of Said from the State Department’s passport division and various news agencies. Said’s “International Security” FBI file was established when an informant gave the FBI a program from the October 1971 Boston Convention of the Arab-American University Graduates, where Said chaired a panel on “Culture and the Critical Spirit”. Most of Said’s FBI records were classified under the administrative heading of “Foreign Counterintelligence,” category 105, and most records are designated as relating to “IS Middle East,” the Bureau’s designation for Israel.
In February 1972, New York FBI agents produced a report listing Said’s employment at Columbia University, his home address and phone number, including a notation that his home telephone service was provided by New York Telephone Company information that was later used to request listings of all toll calls charged to Said’s home phone number. A July 1972 FBI report indicates Said received a phone call from someone who was the subject of intensive FBI surveillance. The NYC agent wrote that “reasons for phone call, activities of the professor, and his sympathies in relation to [blank in the document] matters have not been ascertained”.
In the months after the attacks at the 1972 Munich Olympics there was a flurry of FBI interest in Said and other Palestinian Americans. In early October 1972, the NY FBI office investigated Said’s background and citizenship information as well as voting, banking and credit records. Employees at Princeton and Columbia Universities gave FBI agents biographical and education information on Said, and the Harvard University Alumni Office provided the FBI with detailed information. As Middle East scholar Steve Niva observes, “looking back, this post-Munich period may have marked an historic turning point when statements in support of the Palestinian cause became routinely equated with sympathies for terrorism.”
The FBI spoke with their “Middle East informants” in Boston, Newark and New York to gather information on Said. One report indicated that “several confidential sources who are familiar with Middle East [blank in the document]in the United States were contacted during 1972 and 1973, but were unable to furnish any information pertaining to Edward William Said.” During this investigation, FBI agents located and read a 1970 Boston Globe article headlined “Columbia Professor Blames Racist Attitude for Arab-Israeli Conflict”.
In January 1973, the FBI undertook further criminal and biographical background checks on Said, and the New York Special Agent in Charge recommended in February that the case be closed. But an FBI investigation the next month of a “subject [who had] traveled in the United States in 1971” began a new investigation of Said as one of several individuals whose phone numbers had come to the attention of the FBI and were believed to have possible “connections with Arab terrorist activities.” Such alleged connections remain unspecified as do Said’s connections to such activities, but such vague associations are frequently used to keep investigations active.
During the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War the FBI collected several of Said’s newspaper columns and interviews, and his file includes a New York Times column arguing that Arabs and Jews in the Middle East had historically been pitted against each other rather than against “imperialist powers”. In 1974, the FBI received word that Said would speak at the Canadian Arab Federation Conference in Windsor, Ontario, and the Bureau again tracked Said’s movements, though an FBI informer indicated that “he did not consider Said to be the type of individual who would be involved in any terrorist activity”.
In May 1982, the New York FBI Special Agent in Charge sent a Secret report to FBI Director William Webster saying that Said’s name had “come to the attention of the N.Y. [FBI Office] in the context of a terrorist matter.” FBI headquarters was then requested “to contact liaison with State Department’s Middle East section with regard to their knowledge of Said”. A week later, Said’s file gained a photograph of him addressing the December 1980 Palestine Human Rights Campaign National Conference. One 1982 newspaper clipping added to the file attempted to connect his wife Mariam Said and the PLO to the funding of a full-page anti-Israel advertisement in the New York Times.
On September 3, 1982, FBI Director Webster instructed FBI librarians at Quantico to use their computerized New York Times index to locate all past references to Said. This generated a thirteen-page report containing abstracts of forty-nine NYT articles featuring Edward Said. These articles range from political columns by Said, features about him, to literary book reviews by Said. The New York Times Information Service was long used by the pre-Google FBI to compile dossiers on persons or organizations of interest. Thus did the FBI collected a filtered analysis of Said’s writings and public statements formed by the reports and prejudices of Times reporters and editors.
It did not matter how frequently or clearly Edward Said declared that he “totally repudiated terrorism in all its forms”. The FBI continued to focus its national security surveillance campaign on him. Had the FBI read the Palestine American Congress’s proposed constitution placed in Said’s file in 1979, they would have seen the group’s commitment to upholding the “basic fundamental human and national rights of all people and affirms its opposition to racism in all of its manifestations including Zionism and anti-Semitism”. Instead, they kept searching for connections to terrorism.
The FBI’s surveillance of Edward Said was similar to their surveillance of other Palestinian-American intellectuals. For example, Ibrahim Abu Lughod’s FBI file records similar monitoring though Abu Lughod’s file finds the FBI attempting to capitalize on JDL death threats as a means of interviewing Lughod to collect information for his file.❞