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The Trilling Files

John Rodden
Shofar
Vol. 26, No. 2 (Winter 2008), pp. 109-127
Published by: Purdue University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42944532
Page Count: 19
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The Trilling Files
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Abstract

The FBI dossier on Lionel Trilling discloses that the Bureau followed his activities intermittently for almost three decades. An active file was maintained on Trilling from the late 1930s to the mid-1960s. Most of these reports address Trillings peripheral connection to ongoing FBI probes and to its scrutiny of communist figures and issues, and reveal how out of touch FBI intelligence was about which American intellectuals posed security threats. Although Trillings FBI dossier contains no bombshell revelations and discloses no technical violations of his civil liberties, his surveillance by the FBI was wasteful and unnecessary; in any event, it demonstrates a skewed understanding of the balance among national security, social order, and personal liberty.

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