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The 1970s FBI

Patricia Sullivan

From time to time, we get calls or e-mail from researchers and authors doing the legwork necessary for proper history. A writer I know who is working on a history of the FBI contacted me recently to ask for more detail about something I cited in this obituary of Guy L. Goodwin, who died in December 2007.

Goodwin was a pretty interesting and controversial fellow in the 1970s; from the story:

He was a federal prosecutor who sought to smash the "revolutionary terrorists" of the antiwar left during the early 1970s and also investigated the Ku Klux Klan and the makers of the Dalkon Shield... Chief of the Justice Department's special litigation section of the internal security and criminal divisions during the Nixon administration. Charged by his superiors to pursue anti-Vietnam War demonstrators suspected of bombings, break-ins and conspiracies to kidnap high-ranking officials, Mr. Goodwin became a traveling prosecutor, supervising grand jury investigations and returning more than 400 indictments from Seattle to Miami.

A tough, relentless investigator, he was often assailed for pursuing violent activists and Nixon's political opponents.

I found the detail the author sought, although it's often tougher to recreate one's research than it is to do the research in the first place. The story's worth a second look, though, as a tiny peephole into those tumultuous times.

By Patricia Sullivan |  May 27, 2009; 6:09 PM ET  | Category:  Patricia Sullivan , watergate
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