Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

11 Jun 2002, 14:36 p.m.

Sometimes I believe that investigative reporting is dead, but -…

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2002 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Sometimes I believe that investigative reporting is dead, but - in case you haven't seen it yet - the San Francisco Chronicle has been fighting with the FBI for seventeen years over FOIA requests to bring to light a terrifying story of government intrusion and unaccountability.

The essay question

It was optional question number 7 on UC's 1959 English aptitude test for high school applicants -- and Hoover was livid:

"What are the dangers to a democracy of a national police organization, like the FBI, which operates secretly and is unresponsive to public criticism?"

Hoover took any attack on the FBI personally. As soon as he learned about the essay question, he ordered Assistant FBI Director Cartha "Deke" DeLoach to start a covert public relations campaign to embarrass the university and pressure it to retract the question.

Oh, and then it got hushed up that Reagan had associated with possibly-maybe-Communist front organizations in his past.

It's rather important to remember that government officials are people, not machines, and that if they get more power with fewer limits then they will abuse it.