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Final Chorus: Satchmo’s Rap Sheet

The FBI is proposing a new computer-profiling system, STAR (the System to Assess Risk), that, as National Public Radio reported on July 17, will be sifting through some six billion pieces of data by 2012, “about 20 records for every man, woman and child in America.” Many of those “persons of interest” suspected of terrorism links will be databased for additional scrutiny by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. They won’t know they have FBI files.

Back in J. Edgar Hoover’s reign, even without databasing, the FBI amassed files on great numbers of Americans with purported ties to Communism and other subversive activities. Later, through the Freedom of Information Act, I was able to get my FBI reports-including an extensive file of articles I’d written, petitions I’d signed and people I’d known-with no mention anywhere that, as I’ve written, I’d been a fierce anti-Communist since reading Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon (about Stalinism from the inside) when I was 15.

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Originally Published
Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff

Over more than 60 years, Nat Hentoff (1925-2017) wrote about music, politics, and many other subjects for a variety of publications, including DownBeat (which he edited from 1953 to 1957), the Village Voice (where he was a weekly columnist from 1958 to 2009), the Wall Street Journal, and JazzTimes, to which he regularly contributed the Final Chorus column from 1998 to 2012. Of the 32 books that he wrote, co-wrote, or edited, 10 focus on jazz. In 2004, Hentoff became the first recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Jazz Masters award for jazz advocacy.