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FBI Watched Cranston for Years, Paper Says

August 27, 2003|From Associated Press

FRESNO — The late Sen. Alan Cranston, whose liberal views made him a target of conservatives for much of his public career, was monitored for many years by the FBI, the Fresno Bee reported Monday.

Cranston's hefty FBI file, which the newspaper obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, chronicled investigations and allegations dating from World War II to the early 1990s. Even the most unfounded allegation, a 1974 bribery charge, found a permanent home in the file, the paper said.

The investigations began in 1942, when federal agents probed Cranston's stint as a foreign correspondent for the International News Service after he applied to work at the Office of War Information.

After he landed the job, military intelligence officials investigated Cranston in 1944, as did officials with the Civil Service Commission in 1945 and FBI agents themselves in 1946 and 1947, according to the file.

"There were numerous allegations that, while with the Office of War Information, Cranston hired people who were pro-communist," a July 1966 FBI summary stated. "In 1942 and 1943, he was disapproved for service with the Office of Strategic Services because of his alleged communist leanings and associations."

In an April 1946 memo, an Army colonel accused Cranston of recruiting members with "communist tendencies" for the Council for American Italian Affairs. But without further details, the investigation quickly fizzled.

After Cranston was elected to the Senate in 1968, much of the conservative anger against him was fueled at least in part by selective FBI leaks, the paper said.

In 1979, an angry military veteran threatened to "break the jaws" of several lawmakers, including Cranston. Another warned Cranston in 1982 that "you may see the day when some patriotic American will blow your head off."

Cranston was investigated in 1974 for allegedly taking a $10,000 bribe in exchange for helping a Los Angeles business obtain a Small Business Administration loan. The investigation was abandoned after an informant's credibility was questioned.

Cranston's Senate career ended not long after he became embroiled in the 1991 savings and loan scandal involving campaign contributor Charles H. Keating Jr. Cranston decided not to run for a fifth term after he was identified by FBI agents as one of five senators whose relationship with Keating provided "circumstantial evidence of criminal violations," allegations that were never prosecuted.

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