Bill Singer Explores FBI Vault: Groucho Marx, the Monkees, Helen Keller, Lucy, Louie Louie, and UFOs

June 16, 2011


The Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") recently advised the public of the online availability of The Vault, which is described as "our new electronic reading room, containing more than 3,000 documents that have been scanned from paper into digital copies . . ."  The documents are searchable using key words or phrases.

Curious as to what might be buried in The Vault, I've recently spent a bit of time there.  Frankly, it's been fascinating. Here are some of the listed categories of documents:

- Administrative Policy Procedures
Bureau Personnel
Civil Rights
Foreign Counterintelligence
Gangs Extremist Groups
Gangster Era
Hot Topics
Organized Crime
Political Figures Events
Popular Culture
Public Corruption
Supreme Court
Unexplained Phenomenon
World War II
Violent Crime

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, we find this entry:

Louie Louie (The Song)

In 1963, a rock group named the Kingsmen recorded the song "Louie, Louie." The popularity of the song and difficulty in discerning the lyrics led some people to suspect the song was obscene. The FBI was asked to investigate whether or not those involved with the song violated laws against the interstate transportation of obscene material. The limited investigation lasted from February to May 1964 and discovered no evidence of obscenity.

Among the folks featured in the Popular Culture category are Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Jimi Hendrix, the Monkees (Apparently the FBI thought that this subversive "combo" described as dressing "beatnik like" were projecting subliminal anti-war messages during their concerts), Sonny Bono (Sonny Bono??? Yup!), Lucille Ball (Lucy has a 156-page file suggesting she was a registered Communist from 1936 to 1938. You got some 'splainin' to do Lucy!), Walter Cronkite (Cronkite? Really?? Uh huh), Groucho Marx (Perhaps Karl Marx was part of the original Marx Brothers?), George Burns, Colonel Sanders (The Kentucky Fried Chicken Guy? Yeah, he has a file too), Rocky Marciano, Marilyn Monroe, Helen Keller (Nah, ya gotta be kidding me with this one. Nope - there are some 45 pages concerning allegations of her Communist sympathies. Maybe the "Miracle Worker" was supposed to be the "Miracle Workers of The World Unite!"), the Doors, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and far too many more to mention.

 What other fascinating tid-bits are in The Vault? How about this gem:

Majestic 12

In 1988, two FBI offices received similar versions of a memo titled "Operation Majestic-12" claiming to be highly classified government document. The memo appeared to be a briefing for newly-elected President Eisenhower on a secret committee created to exploit a recovery of an extra-terrestrial aircraft and cover-up this work from public examination. An Air Force investigation determined the document to be a fake.

Then there was a truly intriguing one-page document - a memo from Mr. Guy Hottel (apparently a Special Agent in Charge ("SAC") in Washington, D.C.),  dated March 22, 1950, titled "Flying Saucers: Information Concerning" :

The following information was furnished to SA [redacted]: 

An investigator for the Air Force stated that three s0-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico.  They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter.  Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only three feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner very similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots.

According to Mr. [redacted] informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the Government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed the radar interferes with the controlling mechanism of the saucers.

No further evaluation was attempted by SA [redacted] concerning the above.