Thing is, if they haven't started a file on me, won't they start one if I ask about it?
I cannot wait to see what is in my FBI file :)
Better yet, just post your activities online, like on FB or G+, in which case, when you get your files, you can read your social website history.

Wasn't there a first season SNL skit like that? Garrett Morris goes into the FBI office and asks about his file, Chevy Chase appears to be a bumbling idiot and can't find it and keeps asking for details of his activities, and after the Morris character leaves, the Chase character gets on the phone and orders a file to be started.
Good lord, Furry Girl is wonderful. "A Good Time Not Yet Had By All" is the finest personal motto I've ever seen.

I know there's a file on me - as a kid I refused to register for the draft so they sent letter after letter telling me so. Could be fun to see what's in it, I suppose: "disappointed several sex partners during Summer 2004", etc.
Yes, I'm fairly sure there's no FBI file on me, but I would totally be afraid to ask about it. No surer way to get them to notice you!!
I want to check just to see if they've bothered spending money on me :D I guess I was the head of an Amnesty International chapter for awhile, they're pretty terrorist-y dontchaknow.
9/11 officially repealed the sham KKKonstitution.

Terrah terrah terrah!! Boo!!!!
Now *that* is a troll face if I ever saw one.

One good thing about FBI surveillance is that they can't run you off a road in New Mexico and bury the bodies without someone knowing about it.
For years I've been saying I need to do a FOIA request, if only to find out how many Vietnam War petitions I signed and how many marches/protests/moratoria I attended.

Most of all, I want to know if they identified me in the photo of a building takeover at my college that appeared in Newsweek in 1969. I recognize myself (and a few others) in it, but I do wonder whether the Feds do as well.

Thanks for the link to autogenerated forms!

PS. All those FOIA requests could be a boon to the Postal Service...
"We want law enforcement to act on actual threats to public safety," he said, "not potential future threats. We’re all a potential future threat."
Not to defend these practices, but when is that line crossed? Recall all the screaming after 9/11 about the failure of law enforcement to "connect the dots". A lot of that criticism came from Democrats looking to score points (just as Republicans were trying to deflect blame back to Clinton). Neither side should be outraged to see surveillance run amok.
Printed and filled out; I'll pop 'em in the mail on my lunch break. I'm curious to see if they know about my thirty-year career in Al Qaeda or not.

Should I tell them about how you were often seen snooping around the site of the Cocoanut Grove fire?
Am I the only one who wonders if the fact that she was an "amateur pornographer" may not have been a coincidence? It's pretty easy to imagine some creep of an agent deciding that he had to look at absolutely EVERYTHING she was doing. I wouldn't be surprised if there are a whole lot of pervy guys working for the FBI, CIA, CSIS, etc.
@5: The "good time" bit is not a line of my own crafting, it's from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, used to describe the queer hustler character.
thanks Brendan... looking forward to some good reading!
@15 I was not a sex worker at the time, and I was only one of a dozen people being followed, none of whom were sex workers either. It actually annoys the shit out of me that some people assume I was followed based on silly horny agents trying to spy on a slutty chick. That's totally dismissing the serious political context in favor of turning it into a joke about sluts and sex. The state doesn't spy on protesters in hopes of maybe catching a nip slip. Plus, there are plenty of female activists around the country who are way more attractive than me, so if "spying on hot chicks" was the FBI's mission, they totally botched it.

Also, I don't know if I can be called an amateur pornographer when I've been doing it my sole source of income for almost a decade.
N - I think it's a safe bet the FBI knows more about you than Newsweek.

I've never gone after my file, and I'd just as soon not know.
@18- FWIW, I was in no way attempting to dismiss your political activism. Rather, it seemed to my admittedly brief scan of what you were doing that there was so little risk to public safety in your activities that there was literally no reason for the FBI to be spending the kind of money that they must have been spending on watching you. Which causes the mind to wonder what other reasons they may have had. As for the "amateur" label, well that was in the Stranger's article. Continue on with your money-earning self!
@ 18. And I took the word "amateur" straight from your website, Furry Girl, which describes it as "an evolving collection of amateur porn"...
I'd like to obtain my file later in life -- when I'm old -- By then, I won't have to worry about potentially losing out on good opportunities in my future from inquiring about my possible subversive behavior since I won't have much future left.
Math.... 6 FBI agents at $50/hr for 40 hours = $12,000 of my fucking tax money.
I guess I had better start tweeting like mad because I don't think I have an fbi file yet. I won't go as far as those UK tourists who were detained by the TSA.
You can actually save the stamps and request your FBI file via email -…
Brendan: It's not a big deal, but "amateur" is a marketing label we use in the jizz biz to describe basically anything that doesn't look uber-airbrushed, or something that is vaguely different. (See also: "amateur night" at strip clubs is more likely to mean "visiting professional strippers from other clubs," not "someone's first night on stage ever.") With porn, "amateur" is rarely used in the sense of "unpaid and purely for transgressive fun," it's more of a search engine term used by folk like me to attract viewers looking to buy non-mainstream porn. The label of "amateur" porn has gotten more popular lately to describe homemade RedTube-type stuff that people upload for fun, which further confuses things. Outside of the porn genre context, however, "amateur" is usually taken to mean sloppy, unprofitable, or created by someone new to a subject, so that's why I'd never use the term "amateur" to describe my work in any context but marketing and SEO.

*rainbow star shoots across screen* "...The more you know!"
TL;DR: "Amateur pornographer" versus "pornographer who sells amateur porn" is like "gay porn star" versus "person who performs in gay porn."
Sweet, I didn't realize you could request your file. I would not be surprised if I had a file. A friend and I used to sell "bring home our troops" ribbons online and I actually talked to the FBI once because someone emailed us claiming to be a terrorist. It took me a week to setup a time to meet with the FBI, they met me in the parking lot of their building and essentially dismissed me off hand. They completely ignored the fact that I was handing them a self proclaimed terrorist. Sure, it probably wasn't one but that still blows me away.

As to how it effects you to have an FBI report out on you even if you weren't doing anything...

I've had a few jobs in my life that required an FBI background check and a good 50% of my wife's freelance gig's require it. If they pull the report and find that I was tracked for being a suspected domestic terrorist I would bet we wouldn't get those jobs. Doesn't matter if it's all bullshit. People take that seriously.
@ 26. Yes, the more you know! Thanks for the explanation.

I'm sending in requests for my FBI file and am encouraging coworkers and Slog readers to do the same. Any other tips or details from your report that you care to share?
Brendan: No particular tips to share, but I do like the linked web site's ability to generate the form letters for one to print and sign. Keep in mind that may take some time - my FBI file didn't come until 6 months had passed, and I only recently got a form letter from Homeland Security saying my request was still being processed. I've had seen people get other sorts of FOIA data much faster (some smaller agencies do FOIA via email, like public universities), but I'd nearly forgotten I'd sent for my FBI file by the time it arrived.
Also: in the olden days before Facebook and Twitter (this was 2002, at the end of the anti-globalization push that peaked in the late 90s), activists didn't seek to make all of their interests, associations, favorite things, and beliefs a matter of permanent public record. Much of my file wasn't directly about me, but the FBI trying to figure out who knew who, who had worked together on a previous campaign, who they suspected might try to get arrested based on past arrests, that sort of thing. They were trying to figure out our social structure, and definitely trying to draw connections between "radicals" and the most mainstream liberal groups. I'm sure the FBI now just has some program that plucks all that data from Facebook, rather than having to sit outside people's homes on stakeouts and write down who was seen kissing who.
Read the FAQ on the site. It deals with the issue of the FBI starting a file on you if you request one. (Basically, it says it's an urban myth.)
Wow, I really need to wake up. Throughout the whole article my brain read "amateur photographer" instead. Not sure if it makes too much difference though...
There's also the obvious problem with tons of surveillance -- when somebody is paid to find something criminal that you're doing, odds are they can find something to justify that, even if it's something innocuous.

Every year when deer hunting season rolls around some cows get shot. This isn't because cows look anything like deer, it's because a bunch of hunters are walking around looking for deer to shoot, and some of them are going to find deer even where they don't exist. The guys watching your every move are going to make those mistakes, too.
Mike German is one of my personal heroes; I've had the good fortune to work with him. He always says the Fourth Amendment is the best tool law enforcement has, since it makes sure people identify in advance what kind of information they're actually looking for.

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