I N T R O D U C T I O N , A N D O T H E R D A R K M AT T E R S
cia can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of
records responsive to your request.” Sometime in the spring of 2011, I wrote
to the Central Intelligence Agency (cia) and to the Federal Bureau of In-
vestigation (fbi) to request the release of any documents pertaining to
Frantz Fanon under the Freedom of Information Act (foia). At the time,
I was interested in Fanon’s travels to the United States of America in 1961,
possibly under the nom de guerre Ibrahim Fanon, to receive treatment for
myeloid leukemia. He arrived in the United States on October 3, staying at
a hotel in Washington, DC, where he was “left to rot,” according to Simone
de Beauvoir, “alone and without medical attention.”1
Fanon was a patient
at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland,
from October 10, 1961, until he died of pneumonia on December 6, 1961.
He was thirty- six. I didn’t get any documents from the cia except a letter
citing Executive Order 13526 with the standard refrain that the agency “can
neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records,” and
further stating that “the fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested
records is currently and properly classified and is intelligence sources and
methods information that is protected from disclosure.”
Fanon’s foia files that were released to me by the fbi consist only of
three declassified documents: Document #105-96959-A—a clipping of a
1971 Washington Post- Times Herald article on Fanon’s “Black Power Mes-
sage” and its continuing influence on the Caribbean island of Martinique,
where he was born; Document #105-96959-1—a once “secret” memo on
Fanon dated March 9, 1961; and Document #105-96959-2—a book review
of David Caute’s 1970 biography Frantz Fanon, filed under “extremist mat-
ters,” which says of Caute that “his methodology bears the Marxist stamp”
and that “he is no friend of the United States or of a free society.” Document
#105-96959-A, the news clipping, names The Wretched of the Earth (1963)
“The
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