From Associated Press today:
By MICHAEL HILL and GEORGE M. WALSH
Dec. 19, 2015 2:06 AM EST
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — As Army Pvt. Pete Seeger eagerly waited for a chance to fight for his country during World War II, military investigators quietly built a case that the young folk singer was “potentially subversive.”
In a security investigation triggered by a wartime letter he wrote denouncing a proposal to deport all Japanese Americans, the Army intercepted Seeger’s mail to his fiancée, scoured his school records, talked to his father, interviewed an ex-landlord and questioned his pal Woody Guthrie, according to FBI files obtained by The Associated Press.
Investigators concluded that Seeger‘s association with known communists and his Japanese-American fiancée pointed to a risk of divided loyalty. …
The musician and left-wing activist known for such songs as “If I Had a Hammer,” ”Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” died in January 2014 at age 94. …
But the newly released files show the lengths to which the government went to keep tabs on the singer’s travels, performances and rally appearances at least into the 1970s. The archives plan to release additional Seeger files in the future. …
Based on these records, Seeger underwent what appears to be his first major investigation after writing a letter to the California American Legion in 1942 criticizing the organization’s resolution “advocating deportation of all Japanese, citizens or not, and barring all Japanese descendants from citizenship.” This was during a time Japanese Americans, many of them from California, were being forced to live in government internment camps.
“We’re fighting precisely to free the world of such Hitlerism, such narrow jingoism,” Seeger wrote.
What followed was a wide-ranging probe by the military into Seeger’s background. Investigators found that Seeger — referred to as the “Subject” — was “intensely loyal at this time” and eager to be transferred overseas from Mississippi to fight fascism.
But they didn’t like the company he kept.
Investigators found Seeger was a “close friend and associate” of Lead Belly, or Huddie William Ledbetter, the folk legend they described as a “negro murderer.” The Almanac singers were described in the files as “spreading Communist and anti-Fascist propaganda through songs and recordings.”