A Very John Lennon Holiday


And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear
War is over
If you want it
War is over

John Lennon, Shaved Fish, 1971

Since it’s the holiday season, it must be time to release some important classified information! The above images of newly released files on John Lennon (which are also a live link to the John Lennon FBI files website) are still slightly redacted, as they say, but mostly legible. “The files were released to University of California, Irvine, historian Jon Wiener [on December 19, 2006] … Portions of the files had been withheld under the claim that releasing them would “endanger the national security.”

It’s too bad Lennon didn’t live to see them, he would have laughed at the banality of the government’s concerns. Mostly, Lennon wrote more or less populist songs, did an interview with a left magazine, and donated money to groups who were against the war. All of which was public knowledge at the time. I doubt he would have been amused at the more recent and more successful attempts to limit and control descent, particularly over the current war. The ACLU has information on that and on a recent memo on photographing prisoners they recently forced the government to declassify.

As far as I can tell, this too, is a very mundane artifact. It seems to simply that government forces should uphold the Geneva convention’s prohibition against taking photographs of prisoners in order to “hold them up to public curiosity.” It seems to me that they must have written this memo (dated 20 December 2005) in order to counter-act some bad press they had gotten– Abu Grav and the treatment of Saddam Hussein as well– but I can’t figure out why they would want to hide the fact that they were at least nominally going to do the right thing. You can read it for yourself here.


About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and Smarthinking.com. I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol] writinginthewild.com

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