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Cash's FBI File

Thanks to Google News Alerts for my daily dose of Johnny Cash, I found out yesterday that Johnny Cash had a 208-page FBI file. It was declassified at NewsChannel 5's request.
They're the untold stories in Johnny Cash's FBI file, which was recently declassified at NewsChannel 5’s request, detail the entertainer's successes and failures, but the Cash file is a case study on the price of fame.
That's pretty interesting. At the same time, however, it's pretty troubling that government agencies are required to release files like that to the general public. Or, maybe it's not. This is actually a bit of a tough issue for me -- assuming that it's even appropriate for the government to collect such information to begin with (for the sake of argument, let's say it's appropriate), should the government be required to publish that information, as is the case under FOI regulations?

Anyway, Johnny Cash apparently had a large FBI file, which shouldn't really be surprising. It would be interesting to read the whole document.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 28th, 2004 06:07 am (UTC)
The FBI got into the habit of keeping files on people in the public eye during Hoover's many years at the head of the orginization. The man was obsessed with keeping files on people! It's not surprising that the institution still has those habits around today.

What you should really be asking is do they have a file on YOU!?! Or me for that matter...
Feb. 28th, 2004 06:13 am (UTC)
I'm almost positive that they have a file on me. If they don't have a file on me based on the time I spent working at the National Library of Medicine, they probably established a file when I told president that I'd like to be considered for a Cabinet position or nomination for the Supreme Court and the White House sent me a job application in response.
Feb. 28th, 2004 07:28 am (UTC)
Me and the FBI.

Yes. Assuming, for the moment, that it is appropriate for them to collect this information (a tough assumption for me to make, but okay), then it is necessary that they be required to release it. If power corrupts, etc., then a safeguard is to make the exercises of that power transparent, eventually, anyway.
Feb. 28th, 2004 08:35 pm (UTC)
I agree that the assumption is a tough one to make, which is why I required it to be a given. If the government is collecting such information and can be compelled to release it, should non-government entities also be compelled to release such information. E.g., should the newspaper be allowed to compell the release of Cash's credit score?
Feb. 29th, 2004 05:13 am (UTC)
It's called the FOIA. The newspaper should definitely be allowed to compell the release of anything that the government has collected regarding anybody. We've paid for that information collection, and it was collected in the public interest.

From what I can see, this has two effects:

1) It improves government by the people in that the people have the ability to see the information on which government bases its decisions.

2) It hopefully makes the government at least briefly consider what information it collects. It also let's the people see what information is collected, and if appropriate, cry FOUL!

Johnny Cash's credit score isn't a matter of national security, so it shouldn't be exempt from the FOIA. Whether it should have been collected at all is another question entirely.
Feb. 29th, 2004 06:15 am (UTC)
Johnny Cash's credit score isn't a matter of national security, so it shouldn't be exempt from the FOIA. Whether it should have been collected at all is another question entirely.

But it's also not collected/computed by a government agency -- credit scores are generated by non-governmental companies.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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