LOS ANGELES -- Sen. Strom Thurmond apparently was behind the 1972 attempt to deport the late John Lennon because he associated with radical elements working to 'dump Nixon,' documents show.
Documents released Thursday under the Freedom of Information Act show that Thurmond, R-S.C., wrote a Feb. 4, 1972, letter to Attorney General John Mitchell stating the matter should be 'considered at the highest level.'
The letter was accompanied by a memo from the staff of Thurmond's Senate Internal Security Subcommittee stating that Lennon was associating with 'New Left leaders' who were 'strong advocates of the program to 'dump Nixon.''
The memo, obtained by a California historian, recommended that 'if Lennon's visa is terminated it would be a strategy counter-measure.'
One month later, the Immigration and Naturalization Service revoked Lennon's visa and began deportation proceedings, claiming that a 1969 misdemeanor marijuana conviction in England made Lennon ineligible for admission to the United States.
A spokesman for Thurmond in Washington said the senator had no comment on the documents.
Jon Wiener, a history professor at the University of California, Irvine, obtained the memos in response to a Freedom of Information Act request he made while researching his recently published biography of the former Beatle. Last year, he obtained boxes of heavily censored FBI documents that revealed the FBI and INS investigated Lennon.
Wiener filed suit against the FBI to obtain documents withheld for national security reasons. Last week, the CIA released documents and an affidavit revealing that agency participated in the operation.
The Thurmond memo argued that radical leftists had 'devised a plan to hold rock concerts in various primary election states' using Lennon as the drawing card. Their goal, according to the memo, was to recruit young people to disrupt the Republican National Convention in San Diego.
Lennon was granted permanent residency status in 1976. He was murdered outside his Manhattan apartment by Mark David Chapman in 1980.