A large manilla envelope finally arrived on my doorstep from the FBI in response to my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request about my father 18 months ago. I had always heard the comical stories about the surveillance of my family. Like when our neighbors mentioned to my mother how nice it was “our friends” picked up our weekly trash. Alarmed by the discovery, my mother staked out the front of our house in Plantation, Florida coyly peaking though the living room window on garbage day. As soon as she saw the dark sedan pull up and a man jump out to throw our bags into the trunk of the car, she hit the carpet.
Also the clicking sounds my parents heard while talking on the phone and FBI agent, Bill Kelly, mentioning to my father in court, “the agents said your wife was very pretty.” We were like the early pioneers of the Bush administration’s terrorist surveillance program. I asked my mother what she thought about the FBI’s intense interest. She said, “they (the FBI) just found out I had a very boring life.”
Now here in my home more than 35 years later was proof that our movements were monitored by the federal government. As I read the more than 300 pages the package contained it seemed like an endless query. It described FBI agents that traveled all over the country to interrogate every movie theater owner from Montana to Maine in person. They flashed pictures of my father and asked if they knew unsub “Anthony Michael Battista” AKA Tony B and if he had provided them copies of Deep Throat. Most people answered they didn’t know my father and a handful of others acknowledging they did.
The purpose of the FBI query seemed consistent with the prosecutors’ relentless effort to compile evidence to build a national conspiracy case. The vast information gathering was a terrible waste of tax dollars and in the end we know it never stopped pornography.
For $19.35 the FBI will release another 300 pages to me they have on record about my father. When I get it, I’ll let you know what I find.