John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History
In 1972, Richard Nixon faced reelection. He was unpopular with young people due to their opposition to the Vietnam War. In his 1968 campaign, Nixon had pledged to end the war, and instead he had escalated it. Two outspoken proponents of peace were John and Yoko Ono Lennon. When John Sinclair had been sentenced to two years in prison for two marijuana cigarettes, John and Yoko performed a benefit for him. However, John Sinclair was also a founder of the White Panthers, who were armed bomb makers. This is how John Lennon got on Nixon’ s radar. Nixon felt certain that the Lennons would travel to the 1972 Miami convention and disrupt the process. The FBI ordered Lennon’s arrest if he traveled there on the trumped up charge of interstate travel to conspire to start a riot. The FBI issued orders to deport the Lennons, surveilled, wiretapped, and harassed them. It was part of a program of Cointelpro, wherein the FBI would target groups, infiltrate them, and apply dirty tricks. This was a covert and illegal program.
That artists of the caliber of the Lennons could be so targeted stretches credulity, but Watergate unraveled the dirty workings of Nixon’s presidency. Readers may also find The Burglary by Betsy Medsger a fascinating look into political targeting. The author of this book was the Lennons’ immigration attorney.
Leon Wildes • Michael Wildes, Foreword
American Bar Association