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FBI Wiretapped Hemingway 254

Hugh Pickens writes "On the fiftieth anniversary of the death by suicide of author Ernest Hemingway, his friend and biographer A. E. Hotchner writes in the NY Times that the man who 'had stood his ground against charging water buffaloes, who had flown missions over Germany, who had refused to accept the prevailing style of writing but, enduring rejection and poverty, had insisted on writing in his own unique way, this man, my deepest friend, was afraid — afraid that the FBI was after him, that his body was disintegrating, that his friends had turned on him, that living was no longer an option.' In the midst of depression and under treatment at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, Hemingway was convinced that his room was bugged, his phone was tapped, and suspected that one of the interns was a fed. Decades later, in response to a Freedom of Information petition, the FBI released its Hemingway file. It revealed that beginning in the 1940s J. Edgar Hoover had placed Hemingway under surveillance because he was suspicious of Ernest's activities in Cuba. The surveillance continued all through his confinement at St. Mary's Hospital, making it likely that the phone outside his room was tapped after all. 'In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest's fear of the FBI, which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the FBI file,' writes Hotchner, author of Papa Hemingway and Hemingway and His World. 'I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.'"
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FBI Wiretapped Hemingway

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  • by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:02PM (#36643532) Homepage

    The immunity to telecoms that accepted requests to wiretap without warrants, the revenge taken on Qwest for not doing so, the new rules that pretty much allow warrantless wiretapping at will...those powers would never be abused by today's FBI. They are all staunch and true. There's no chance of this happening now. No way are they going to snoop on friends-of-relatives-of suspected possible terrorists. Zero chance that people who impress a girlfriend by going to a march to support that Gaza blockade ship (which helps Gaza, which helps Hamas, who are terrorists, who no-doubt support other terrorists that might attack us some day) will find themselves on a list.

    Don't be paranoid. We don't need a government of laws when we have a government of such good men who only want to protect us.

    From terrorists.

    And communists.

    • those powers would never be abused by today's FBI.

      That may be true. But laws aren't here to protect us against current threats, they are here to protect us against future threats as well. Although today's FBI may be sincere, someday we will have another Hoover in power, which is why we need proper judicial oversight of these people.

      I have not heard of any wiretapping abuses by the FBI recently. But eventually there will be if they don't have oversight. That is an absolute guarantee.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @07:16PM (#36644066) Journal
        Given that the Office of The Inspector General, not exactly a noted hotbed of antigovernment radicals or clinical paranoids, fairly recently concluded [justice.gov] that the FBI's use of 'National Security Letters', 'Exigent Letters', and similar spook stuff was in flagrant violation even of their own extremely broad discretion and weak internal policies, I'm going to say that you haven't heard because the FBI does their best to be quiet, and nobody really cares that much...
      • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @07:19PM (#36644080) Homepage

        Your sarasm-meter is overdue for its 100,000-mile checkup.

      • Although today's FBI may be sincere...


        I have not heard of any wiretapping abuses by the FBI recently.

        I guess that means it doesn't happen, right? I mean, our innocent little lambs would never destroy evidence [foxnews.com] now, would they? Of course nothing will come of it. You're not to be taken seriously..

        Authority should come at a very high price.. They should have to prove they're not violating the rules they impose on us.. Consider them guilty until proven innocent to keep them in line

        All this makes the tin hatt

        • I guess that means it doesn't happen, right?

          I don't know. It may be 50 years before we know, in fact.

          They should have to prove they're not violating the rules they impose on us

          What? No, police better not be imposing rules, they are not the ones in charge of that. They are merely enforcers, who need to ask for permission from the judicial branch.

          All this makes the tin hatters look a bit less crazy

          Although it seems you lack understanding of separation of powers, and the checks and balances placed in the constitution.

          God save the Queen!

          If you're British, that might explain it.

      • .....I think your sarcasm detector needs checked for defects and malfunctions.

      • by ukemike ( 956477 )

        I have not heard of any wiretapping abuses by the FBI recently.

        The only possible reason you haven't heard of wiretapping abuses recently would be because you have your fingers jammed in your ears and you are yelling "I'M NOT LISTENING! I'M NOT LISTENING!" There is ample documentation and there was substantial news coverage of abuses. In 2007 congress authorized an investigation into abuses and the numbers were shocking.

        "Fine's review, authorized by Congress over Bush administration objections, concluded the number of national security letters requested by the F

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by drfreak ( 303147 )

      And Gay Marriage

      And Marijuana,

      And Cubans,

      And Native Americans,

      And Mexicans,

      Britain? Not so much anymore...

      But don't forget about those pesky Canadians...

  • by tripleevenfall ( 1990004 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:10PM (#36643576)

    Worth pointing out is that there is a competing school of thought, which regards his suicide as likely having been an accident.

  • by mobby_6kl ( 668092 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:12PM (#36643584)

    you're not paranoid if they're really out to get you.

    • you're not paranoid if they're really out to get you.

      No, you can still be paranoid even then, if it's unreasonable to believe that they're out to get you. Of course, they can still get you.

  • by La Gris ( 531858 ) <lea,gris&noiraude,net> on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:14PM (#36643596) Homepage

    The fact that he was wiretapped does not exclude he may have been a paranoiac.

    • by drougie ( 36782 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:41PM (#36643700) Homepage

      He was bipolar, with paranoid delusions most amplified during mixed episodes (happy and not happy psychosis in the same package -- a bad trip).

      And you're right, that he was a manic depressive with persecutory delusions and that he was indeed being spied upon by law enforcement doesn't mean he wasn't nuts -- obviously the case in Hemingway's case. Maybe it was self-fulfilling.

      • "Maybe it was self-fulfilling."

        I must admit, I've heard anyone blame someone's being wiretapped on their prior paranoia. Live long enough, amazing what you'll get to read.

  • http://www.pdfernhout.net/on-dealing-with-social-hurricanes.html [pdfernhout.net]
    "Our biggest advantage is that no one takes us seriously. :-)
    And our second biggest advantage is that our communications are monitored, which provides a channel by which we can turn enemies into friends. :-)
    And our third biggest advantage is we have no assets, and so are not a profitable target and have nothing serious to fight over amongst ourselves. :-)"

  • but, when the conspiracy is shown to be real, i have nothing but venom and hate for the power abusing assholes who think they can get away with it

    hoover was a cross-dressing pinhead (not that there's anything wrong with cross-dressing, but there's plenty wrong with hypocrisy). the fbi under him was an extension of mccarthy era hysteria and witch hunts. so fuck you hoover, thanks for contributing to the destruction of the composure of a great man and a great writer

    those who seek to protect us, in the name of hypocritical assumptions about what we need protection from, are the real enemies of the usa

    down with them all

    • I too, generally laugh at conspiracy theories, however, when they involve J. Edgar Hoover spying on somebody/anybody, well, that's just common sense^Wknowledge.
    • by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:20PM (#36643852)

      so fuck you Hoover

      You missed a perfect opportunity for a good pun by not opting for "dam(n) you Hoover" or even "Hoover sucks"

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) *

      > mccarthy era hysteria and witch hunts

      You do know that the fifty year seal on the Senate records from the McCarthy hearings finally expired and that between that and the other reveals from the end of the Cold War we now know (Not believe, know. There is a difference.) that Joe McCarthy's only real sin was in failing to realize just how far the rabbit hole went. It wasn't just an infestation of Communists in the State Dept., the rot went all the way to the heart of our government, including the US Sena

      • the damage done to the usa by communist infiltrators was less than that by the hystertical overreacting nitwits

        the damage done to the usa by terorrism today is less than that by the hystertical overreacting nitwits

        the usa isn't weak. why do you think it is so fragile? it isn't. YOU are. stop projecting your pantywaist fears, asshole. YOU and your kind do more damage to this great country than it's genuine enemies. at least this country's enemies intend malice. you damage the country in the name of helping i

        • Re:hey, asshole (Score:5, Informative)

          by plover ( 150551 ) * on Saturday July 02, 2011 @10:46PM (#36644714) Homepage Journal

          the damage done to the usa by communist infiltrators was less than that by the hystertical overreacting nitwits

          This statement is not true. Joseph McCarthy was actually correct. The Venona decrypts, declassified in 1999-2002, identified a lot of the Communist Party CPUSA members and revealed them to be Soviet agents. And the Mitrokhin Archive, an internal KGB record of their own history, smuggled out of Russia in 1992 by their former senior archivist Vasily Mitrokhin, shows quite clearly the depths of penetration of the Soviet agents, as well as their strategies of spreading disinformation. These documents are readily available, go check them out at your local bookstore or library.

          Now McCarthy was indeed a zealot, and used improper means of "persuasion" instead of following legal channels, but his claims were fairly accurate. Much of Hollywood was infiltrated, as well as the U.S. State Department, and even Congress. But McCarthy was unable to publicly back his claims with the data because the Venona project itself and all its data was classified top secret, and was not to be revealed in case they gave away the secret that we were reading Soviet "one-time pads". (Hint: they used their pads two times, which broke their security.) This was an operational mistake that happened from 1946-1948, and so they could have safely used the data then as the Soviets had corrected the mistake before he went public, but the FBI had no way of knowing that. Among other interesting tidbits, the Venona decrypts proved conclusively that the Rosenbergs were indeed the traitors that gave the secret of the bomb to the Soviets. The campaign to cloud their guilt with doubt was just one of the many Soviet disinformation campaigns. (These campaigns included such crap as "AIDS was created by the U.S. Army as a bioweapon", which even the Russians now regret having spread.)

          the damage done to the usa by terorrism today is less than that by the hystertical overreacting nitwits

          I agree with you and believe this statement is true. Many of our rights have been stripped by the misnamed USA PATRIOT act, and our government has gone apeshit crazy, all even better than the results UBL hoped for when he attacked. I'd much rather have the occasional terrorist attempt than the current form of the DHS. At least an idiot on a plane today is going to be jumped by a hundred very pissed off travelers. Nobody's ever going to fly another plane into a building on our soil again, not while there are solid cockpit doors and a few real Americans on board.

          However, there is quite a bit of difference between the two. McCarthy acted alone, from secret knowledge. The DHS is acting as the face of the U.S. government. The politicians are bringing war to all kinds of new places in the name of terrorism. They've completely soiled this country and her reputation, and they should be stopped.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            i don't understand how you can think the observation is true about terrorism but not about communism. it's the same form of trumped up threat. you swallow the koolaid about communism, but not terrorism. so you're half redeemed

            • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

              There were communists and they were a threat - just not the massive threat that they were portrayed to be.

              There are terrorists and they are a threat - just not the massive threat that they are portrayed to be.

              The point of all this paranoia is it lets those who are "dealing" with the threat take control of a lot of power and exercise it.

          • Joseph McCarthy was actually correct.

            No, he merely used a shotgun approach in the hope that someday he would hit something solid to find a truth that would obsure his pack of lies. His offer to stop harassing Arthur Miller if he could get a vote winning publicity photo taken standing next to Marilyn Monroe really summed the slimy weasel up as the man he was. It was all about making a lot of noise so he could get a chance at being President and the commie threat bullshit was just his scam to get there. Re

          • by kisak ( 524062 )

            So in your world view, McCarthey was correct in destroying innocent lifes, installing a culture of fear in Hollywood so that they would not make critical films about the current administration, making it hard for people with different political views to get a decent jobs and being able to bully people in general without having to prove anything? All this because there were some soviet spyes (what a shocker that is!) during the cold war?

            How should one put it? "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long las

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @05:58PM (#36643760)

    Mr. Green: Why is J. Edgar Hoover on your phone?
    Wadsworth: He's on everybody else's! Why shouldn't he be on mine?

  • ...doesn't mean there isn't one. I am quite sure a large percentage of the paranoid notions out there are not true, but then there are the facts that surface much later that prove to have been true.

    it's exactly this kinda crap that keeps the seeds of doubt sewn in my mind each and every time the government tells the people something.

    • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @07:05PM (#36644034)

      ...doesn't mean there isn't one. I am quite sure a large percentage of the paranoid notions out there are not true, but then there are the facts that surface much later that prove to have been true.

      it's exactly this kinda crap that keeps the seeds of doubt sewn in my mind each and every time the government tells the people something.

      Put it this way: every single time some government official, from the President of the United States on down says, "we need new power 'x' in order to make you safe from 'y'", We the People need to reply with a resounding "Prove it!" Make these bastards fight for every new power they try to assume. Sometimes they're right ... but I want to hear more than fear-mongering and manufactured statistics.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      John Lennon once said on a TV talk show he had reason to think his phone was bugged. Sure enough, it turned out it was, as later-released files proved.

  • by bcrowell ( 177657 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @06:48PM (#36643958) Homepage

    With just a touch of exaggeration, I'll say that any public intellectual in that era who didn't have an FBI file probably was lacking a conscience. Einstein had a 1500-page FBI file [theeinsteinfile.com], having aroused Hoover's suspicion with his involvement in "communist front" organizations like the American Crusade Against Lynching [wikipedia.org]. America had been through the worst era of unrestrained robber-baron capitalism, followed by the Great Depression. It was the height of Jim Crow. If you were engaged in the intellectual life of the country, it was very likely that you were either going to become a socialist or some other kind of radical. Just to pick two more random examples: Margaret Sanger [wikipedia.org] and Helen Keller [wikipedia.org] were both leftists, and both had FBI files. American leftists were the only ones who spoke up against Fascism in Spain and tried to do anything about it -- at a time when right-wingers were often huge fans of Mussolini. For a lot of folks on the left, the big disillusionment came in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

    • This was also the era were the activities of the American clandestine agencies became so egregious that even congress took a look [aarclibrary.org] and grew something resembling teeth.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Might make you depressed if you thought your were going to be exposed.
      Might even convince you it was time to kill yourself.

  • So did Hemingway's estate ever sue the government for wrongful death or some such, after it was revealed that Hemingway's paranoia was justified and really not so paranoid after all?

  • Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. - Colin Sautar

  • by paiute ( 550198 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @08:54PM (#36644388)
    While hunting one day with director Howard Hawks and William Faulkner, the acclaimed actor Clark Gable asked Faulkner to enumerate the five best authors of the day. "Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, Thomas Mann, John Dos Passos," Faulkner replied, "and myself." "Oh," Gable maliciously replied, "do you write for a living?" "Yes," Faulkner retorted, "and what do you do?"
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Saturday July 02, 2011 @09:12PM (#36644464)

    But Hemingway also was, by most accounts, not a particularly happy individual. I am not meaning to absolve the FBI from blame for its misbehavior; but his dad commited suicide, his mom mailed him the gun his father used for that, he couldn't stay in a relationship, and he had a drinking problem - he already had 2.9 strikes against him. His semi-autobiographical Nick Adams stories all seemed to show a poor sense of self worth too.

    It seems odd that the FBI would worry about his activities in Cuba, though, given how his writing sure seemed (to me) to be pretty pro-Batista.

  • If I thought I were being bugged, I would take a sudden interest in the hobby of in-home air horn playing at random times.

    In particular, I think I would take to reading spy novels out loud, with random air for interjections to punctuate the juicy bits. Then if they carted me off, and gave as evidence something they had got from me, I'd simply as the time of the recording and give them the page number of the book the quote came from...

  • July 1, 2011

    Hemingway, Hounded by the Feds

    EARLY one morning, 50 years ago today, while his wife, Mary, slept upstairs, Ernest Hemingway went into the vestibule of his Ketchum, Idaho, house, selected his favorite shotgun from the rack, inserted shells into its chambers and ended his life.
    There were many differing explanations at the time: that he had terminal cancer or money problems, that it was an accident, that he’d quarreled with Mary. None were true. As his friends knew, he’

  • I love Hemingways writings, but Hemingway aside, oh my god - an Adobe Flash application to view their files? It's slow as molasses, unresponsive, has some weird copycat of a hand cursor and has its own scrolling in addition to the page scrolling - in short, it's a disaster! Jesus, haven't these guys heard of PDF, courtesy of the same company? Or are they on LSD or something?

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?