FOIA request for SftP domestic surveillance documents – FBI

FOIA request – FBI response

About these documents

fbi_file_pageThe following 638 pages of documents were released under FOIA request FBI FOVPA #1071371-000 by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in January 2007.

FBI FILE OPENED. The FBI file was opened on SESPA or Science for the People on 28-April-1970 with the advance notice of the demonstration at the Pentagon the next day. The file is generally classified as “RA” or “NL,” meaning revolutionary activity or New Left organizations. It is clear that at least one inside informant was continually providing conversations, minutes, plans, and internal documents to the FBI in both Boston and Chicago SftP collectives.

NUMBERING. The files are serialized by handwritten classification-case-serial number such as “100-459865-39” on documents. “100” is the classification for Domestic Security matters or DOMINTEL, “459865” is the Individual Case Number assigned to the SftP file. The number after that “39” is the serial number order of the document in the file. Sometimes attachments will be given “-A” and then attached in order behind the main serial number.

REDACTION and DECLASSIFICATION. The files as received were heavily redacted, eliminating most personally identifiable information (PII) and especially the redacting names of informants inside SftP and other organizations. Exemption codes are noted in the margin near the FOIA redaction site, ex: b2, b6, b7C, b7D. The FBI file shows declassification markings for 24-Sept-1977, 27-Jan-1986, and the entire file on 4-March-1996.

COMPLETENESS. Scanning and posting online continues as of this date. Please observe the spreadsheet revision date. Serial number 104 is the last document received. Expected completion date is 104 is May 2016.

PROCESSING.  The FBI file documents on SftP were received as paper copies with added redactions per exemptions allowed by 5 USC Sec.552 and listed in the conveyance cover letter 22-Jan-2008. No alterations were made to the received copies from the FBI. The documents were OCR scanned as delivered to the researcher, deskewed, and searchable properties added to the PDF file. The researcher’s home address and phone in the original 2007 FOIA correspondence has been removed. To inquire about these files, or to view the hardcopies received, please search for Melanie McCalmont and contact me.

COMPILATIONS AND INDEX FILES. Several files in the set are large compilations of investigation text. See files -41, -63, and especially -71 with extensive index for such compilations which provide a glimpse into the scope of surveillance and informants on Science for the People as an organization. File serial -88 has a compiled 54 page investigation on the China trip in 1973.

Download the FBI file spreadsheet with document links >


  • 11-Dec-2015, corrected serial numbers, split some PDF to match
  • 13-Dec-2015, added serial no -43 to -89

Common terms and abbreviations on the SftP FBI files and spreadsheet

  • “100-459865-39” on documents. “100” is the classification for Domestic Security matters or DOMINTEL, “459865” is the Individual Case Number assigned to the SftP file. The number after that “39” is the serial number order of the document in the file.
  • (c), (s), (u)  Confidential, Secret, and Unclassified material markings
  • “ADEX” Administrative index with Category I through IV. For details on categories, see the paragraph further down this page.
  • “BS” Bureau Symbol
  • “CP” or “CPUSA” Communist Party in the USA
  • “EO 10450” this is Executive Order 10450 re: Security Requirements for Government Employment
  • “EXP PROC” Expedited Processing
  • “FO” Field Office, example: WFO Washington Field Office
  • “IS-NEW LEFT” Internal Security-New Left organizations (IS-C is communist organization, IS-REVACT or IS-RA is revolutionary activities, IS-SUBV is subversive activities)
  • “LHM” letterhead memo
  • “NITEL” Night teletype, a routine FBI teletype communication transmitted overnight at cheaper rates
  • “OO” Office of Origin
  • “RM” registered mail
  • “REHONCAB” Regarding ____ cable, in this case Hong Kong. Also in files with other cities and U.S. legations.
  • “RENYTEL” is “reletype New York telephone”, other cities may be inserted for NY. A point-to-point printing using system of radioteletype (RTTY) before teletype
  • “REVACT” Revolutionary activity
  • “RUC” Referred upon completion
  • “SA” or “SAS” Special agent(s) and “SAC” special agent in-charge, ex.: SAC, Chicago (100-51732)
  • “SAC” Special Agent in Charge
  • “SM” subject matter, example: SM-SDS is subject matter of Students for a Democratic Society
  • “WDC” Washington, District of Columbia

 ADEX Categories

Ivan Greenberg’s “The Dangers of Dissent” (2010) on Google Books cites the purpose and codes of the ADEX, which is seen frequently in these FBI files. The purpose of the Administrative Index (ADEX) was to have a current listing of individuals deemed currently dangerous to national security. These individuals were to be afforded priority investigative coverage in the event of a national emergency. For an example of its usage in the FBI files, see document 100-459865-62 page 2.

Greenberg states that during the 1970s this Index had 4 categories:

  • ADEX, Category I included all leaders of revolutionary groups, persons demonstrating violence against persons rather than property, and other extremist leaders with special terrorist training.
  • ADEX, Category II included secondary leadership of revolutionary groups and extremist groups, active participants who furthered the aims of such groups, as well as unaffiliated revolutionaries who had acted violently against property rather than people.
  • ADEX, Category Ill included rank and file participants in recent extremist or revolutionary activities.
  • ADEX, Category IV included those in a position to influence others to engage in acts part of national defense, who had a proclivity for exercising such influence, but who otherwise did not qualify under the first three categories.