Thursday, September 23, 2010

Branko Peshelj's Newly Released FBI Files

Branko Peshelj was a member of the Croatian Peasant Party and advisor to its long time leader Vladko Macek. He was also an American government employee and informant to the FBI. Combined this makes him one of the more important Croatian emigres during the post-Second World War period.

However, only a portion of his FBI files were released as part of Interagency Working Group efforts. Back when I was doing archival research, I pressed the NARA staff to release for more of his records. This summer, I achieved the success seen below. I was also informed another of Peshelj's FBI files was being dispatched to NARA. While this will force me to miss work to hop over there and acquire it, it just seems tacky, after all my bitching, not to grab it.

New Branko Peshelj Files

Milovan Djilas' State Department Obituary

Here is the United States State Department’s “obituary” for famed Yugoslav Communist Leader Milovan Djilas.

This 4/21/1995 cable from the US Embassy in Belgrade is succinct, poignant, and a complete contrast how the US Embassy in Belgrade treated Djilas while he was alive. As noted by Warren Zimmerman, the last Ambassador to Tito’s Yugoslavia, it was American policy not recognize Djilas so long as Tito was alive. This policy survived Tito. It was not until Zimmerman that Djilas actually met with the American ambassador.

Why Was the FBI Interested in Bobby Thomson?

At some point, for some reason, Bobby Thomson, author of the famed “Shot Heard 'round the World,” a home run in the third game of the 1951 pennant playoff series, which won the NL Pennant for the New York Giants, came into contact with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We know this because the FBI has admitted having “responsive records” when presented with a FOIA request.

Why Thomson came to the attention of the FBI is not known. Was he suspected of gambling? Was he a victim of a federal crime? Was he a suspected Communist? Was his name merely mentioned in an investigation into Major League Baseball or, perhaps, a teammate?

Why Bobby Thomson drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will remain forever unknown. In the same letter in which the FBI admitted to having “responsive records” regarding Bobby Thomson, the FBI announced that it had destroyed the records in accordance with its record retention schedule.
Most striking about the FBI’s destruction of Thomson’s records was the date of their annihilation. They were destroyed on 4/1/2010, several months before Thomson’s demise and before anyone would have had a chance to submit a FOIA request for them. Without ever having given them the chance to become part of the public record, the FBI simply scooped up the records and confined them to pulping or a burn bag.

Now, baseball fans around the world will be left wondering, why was the FBI interested in Bobby Thomson?

FBI Response Letter regarding Bobby Thomson

Follow the Money. Or Not: The FBI and WikiLeaks' Funding (Updated)

For all the hubbub about WikiLeaks and alleged plots by the CIA and Department of Defense to frame or assassinate its leader Julian Assange, it seems that many federal law enforcement agencies are simply not putting in significant effort to stop WikiLeaks.

I have previously reported on the perfunctory investigation of WikiLeaks by NCIS, similarly lackluster efforts by US Army CID, and, finally, a no records response from the Defense Technical Information Center on the matter of WikiLeaks.

It can now be reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigation has thus far declined to investigate the Wau Holland Foundation. The Wau Holland Foundation, named after a famed member of the German computer hacking collective Chaos Computer Club, has been named as a leading source of WikiLeaks of funding (processor of donations see below) by the Wall Street Journal. Despite this and the linkage to the Chaos Computer Club, the FBI has opted not to investigate further.

Nota Bene

I was informed via Twitter that describing Wau Holland Foundation as a "funder" was incorrect. Looking at it again, I'm inclined to treat it as a funder. It is claimed that all it does is accept donations for WikiLeaks which it then (allegedly) dispenses. However, I have never dealt or seen any organization that supposedly just accepts funds on behalf of a non-profit for that non-profit's use turn around and demand receipts before issuing out grants.

Even if I am wrong on this point, my major point about American law enforcement and military agencies not caring about WikiLeaks remains unchallenged.

FBI Wau Holland Response Letter