An article posted on the UK’s ‘MailOnline’ mainstream news website yesterday (September 4th 2016) draws attention to a new book by Leon Wildes, the lawyer who successfully defended John Lennon during the 1970s when he was facing deportation from the US by the then-President Nixon and his cohorts.
Published by the American Bar Association last month, ‘John Lennon vs. The USA’ is, the MailOnline piece states, an explanation of…
“the Nixon administration’s battle to deport Lennon purportedly for an old conviction in the UK for possessing hashish.
But behind the façade of wanting to deport Lennon on the 1968 drug conviction, was the reality that the Government feared the musician’s influence on young voters in the 1972 election.
Lennon had tremendous sway with 18-20-year-old voters, just after the election age had been lowered.
Federal agents with the FBI feared Lennon was heading to the Republican National Convention in Miami that year and warned that he and Yoko Ono would be arrested for ‘interstate travel in the furtherance of conspiracy to incite a riot’ if they tried to attend.
The couple moved from London to the Greenwich Village on a temporary visa after Lennon’s drug arrest.
They attended a rally for MC5 band-manager John Sinclair, who was serving ten years in prison for selling two marijuana joints.
Lennon performed the song, ‘John Sinclair’ for a crowd of 15,000 people and urged them to stay involved.
Sinclair, who had served two years, was released by the end of that week.
And it was this kind of influence that frightened the Government.
Sinclair was involved in the White Panther Party and ‘obtain(ed) guns and dynamite, (to) blow up the CIA office in Ann Arbor (Michigan) and la(id) plans for guerilla actions in northern Michigan,’ according to Wildes.
In light of this, anxious South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond warned US Attorney General John Mitchell, who oversaw the Immigration and Naturalization Service that Lennon’s new ally could be dangerous.
Days later, Lennon’s visa was revoked citing Lennon’s previous drug conviction.
Wildes then became Lennon’s immigration attorney.”
The article quotes Wildes as stating, “the Nixon administration made life intolerable for John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Alleged phone repairmen came to ‘check’ the Lennons’ telephone but left promptly when ID was requested.” Also, there were “two men” just across the street who “seemed to be fixing a bike interminably. When John and Yoko got into an automobile, the same two men appeared in a car behind them, making certain the Lennons knew they were being followed.” This, of course, is by no means revelatory, a fact that, incidentally, the MailOnline doesn’t acknowledge in its article. For some reason or another the piece has been tailored and billed as some form of ‘exclusive.’ Be that as it may, the reality is, from as far back as the early 1970s, Lennon was making no secret of his belief that he was being secretly monitored, although he couldn‘t corroborate it. He spoke about it to any one who’d listen be that on a TV chat-show or any other form of media-interview. In 1974, he’s reported to have said, “we knew we were being wire-tapped. But how do you prove that? There was a helluva lot of guys coming in to fix the phones.” Then, decades after his death, his suspicions were confirmed somewhat when the historian and author Jon Wiener was eventually given access to hundreds of intelligence-files from the FBI and CIA that proved the ex-Beatle was being monitored. All this is set-down in the book, ‘Gimme Some Truth: The John Lennon FBI Files’ published in 1999, and, to a lesser extent, in the 2006 movie-documentary, ‘The US vs. John Lennon.’
The former Beatle eventually won his deportation battle in 1976, meaning he was permitted to stay in the US. By this time, Nixon had resigned from the Presidency following Watergate, the scandal that resulted in the imprisonment of the aforementioned John Mitchell. Four years later, Lennon was shot dead – assassinated as he was staging, to all intents and purposes, a comeback to not only the music-biz after a lengthy period away, but the protest cause as well. The Republicans, in the wake of Democrat Jimmy Carter’s exit from the Whitehouse, made a return at this time too interestingly enough. In January 1981, just a little over 40 days on from John’s shooting, Ronald Reagan was inaugurated and George H.W. Bush, former CIA head and reported friend of John W. Hinckley Jr.’s family, became his vice-President.
You can read the MailOnline article in full here:
‘John Lennon vs. The USA’ is available to buy at all the usual outlets as you might expect. I haven’t had the chance to purchase or read a copy myself, but I’ll hazard a guess there’s very little in there that’s contributing anything radically new to the topic. However, I’d also dare to suggest that it might be worth a close look purely for the fact that one of the book’s main protagonists is, let’s not forget, also the author. That in itself should be of interest – if not regarded as something unique too.
‘Come Together: John Lennon In His Time’ – by Jon Wiener