Drinan: Lawmaker, priest, and target of FBI scrutiny





It remains one of the stranger episodes in the annals of congressional-FBI relations: In the winter of 1975, US Representative Robert F. Drinan was touring the FBI headquarters when he broke away and opened a drawer to find a set of index cards under his name.

A three-month battle ensued between the Massachusetts Democrat and the federal law enforcement agency over access to the file. When Drinan finally got a redacted copy of his own record, he pronounced it garbage, filled with news clippings in which the names of people already published in the newspapers were carefully blacked out by federal officials.

Now, on the second anniversary of his death, a copy of Drinan's FBI file, obtained by the Globe through a Freedom of Information Act request, provides a bookend to the story.

The file is unlikely to reshape history's view of the only Jesuit priest to serve in Congress, but it provides a backstage look at the dispute between the congressman and the agency and a reminder of how much the FBI changed over the second half of the 20th century.


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