The following files were obtained by Freedom of Information Act from the FBI. Since the 1940s, the record reveals the ADL attempting to liaise with the FBI by offering the ADL representative network as an FBI resource.
The details of this attempted collaboration by an organization portraying itself as a nonprofit social welfare organization are surprising. FBI field offices report that some ADL operatives are inadequate for the job. Others, such as the head of the Oregon office, become undercover FBI informants for the local field office. The ADL attempts to simultaneously conceal and leverage FBI relationships, even claiming to train the bureau on the finer points of investigation. However, the ADL's efforts to obtain routine access to FBI investigation files undercover informant lists to avoid "duplication of efforts" in investigations are continually rebuffed.
The files contain many surprising ADL undercover operations. In 1941 longtime ADL operative Arnold Forster is caught with an associate infiltrating an America First Party event with stolen press credentials. The ADL then uses media pressure and offers payoffs to quash a police investigation, according to the FBI. In 1946 ADL obtained confidential Chase National Bank records of the Institute of Arab-American Affairs. The ADL was concerned the organization's press activity was "refuting the Jewish point of view on Palestine."
In 1951 the FBI was tasked by the US State Department to investigate ADL allegations of illicit activities by Arab League operatives in New York. The FBI investigation is cancelled after ADL's undercover operative is found to be compromised and unreliable.
In 1968 FBI Director J Edgar Hoover ordered all FBI field offices to establish liaisons with ADL regional offices, an order repeated by the FBI HQ in 1985. But some in the bureau had second thoughts. In 1969 the ADL infiltrated the 18th annual National Convention of Arab Students. ADL operatives operating under code name pose as reporters and strategize how to gain control of the National headquarters while neutralizing OAS chapters. After receiving the report, an FBI analyst suggests investigating the ADL as an Israeli foreign agent. But the ADL operation seems to have been a quiet success as OAS chapters became less integrated in following decades and gradually change names and begin serving more as campus clubs with cultural (rather than political) outreach.
In 1993 the ADL was rocked by a national crisis when the collaboration of a long-time undercover investigator, Roy "Cal Bullock" and San Francisco Police Department officer (and on-and-off CIA operative) Tom Gerard were discovered spying on California Arab and anti-Apartheid groups. The discovery led to search warrants, raids on ADL offices, and large court settlements for victims of ADL privacy right violations.
Files of this episode are located in a separate archive, http://www.IRmep.org/ila/ADL-CA
During the same period the ADL California offices were being investigated, the ADL asked the FBI to criminally investigate a large number of alleged anonymous phone calls and letters sent to the ADL. The FBI judged many to be "non-threatening" while closing other cases for lack of suspects.
Shortly before 9/11, the ADL won a long-coveted honor: co-hosting and FBI and ADL coordinated "Symposium on Hate Crime and Extremism."
Israel Lobby Archivist note: The Federal Bureau of Investigation at one time possessed up to 10,800 pages of information about the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). However, according to an interim April, 2013 FOIA release letter, some records "were destroyed between the years 1972 through 2007." Other historic FBI material on the ADL has been transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Also, according to the FBI, "potentially responsive records were not in their expected location and could not be located after a reasonable search." All files are in PDF format. OCR versions have been scanned so that text is searchable.
On August 8, 1940 the ADL offered a confidential list of 1,600 ADL representatives compiled by Miles Goldbert to the FBI Director. Some members of the list, such as Abraham Feinberg, are later criminally investigated by the FBI as agents of a foreign government and for quashing arms-smuggling investigations. But the ADL offers the contact list as a resource for FBI informants and additional undercover agents. Some ADL employees on the list, such as David Robinson who headed the ADL Oregon office, become undercover informants of the FBI.
On August 22, 1940, an undercover ADL investigator attempts to prevent the FBI from knowing about his activities since, "the Anti-Jewish element has accused the Anti-Defamation League of having private investigators, and the Anti-Defamation League does not wish it to become generally known that they do employ private investigators."
FBI special agent warns FBI director of an ADL investigator who is judged "mentally unbalanced by agents of this office who have contacted him."
All FBI field offices are offered ADL contact lists as a force multiplier by the Chicago FBI field office. "Mr. Goldberg has advised that the persons named in the lists will cooperate and will make available any files in their possession; also if requested would endeavor to secure information on individuals in whom a particular field office is interested."
ADL Newsletters sent to the FBI. "Nazified White Russians Sabotaging Democracy" - 11/6/1940
"Protocol Lie Revived Again" 10/30/1940
"American Nazis and White Russians Speed Up Fascist Mobilization - 10/23/1940
"Axis Aided by Japa-Nazi Auxiliaries in U.S." 10/9/1940
Disagreements between the FBI and ADL.
On April 8, 1942 the ADL forwards to the FBI director a copy of pamphlet "The Hidden Hand" being circulated by Col. E. N. Sanctuary. On April 17, 1942 the ADL forwards three copies of its newsletter.
May 7, 1942, FBI director objects to William I Boxerman of the ADL's characterization of FBI agents and investigations, warns of rift with ADL, which announces it fired Boxerman on May 25.
May 19, 1942, Assistant Director P.E. Foxworth warns FBI director that informants for the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League and ADL were engaging in "shake-downs" of individuals who were possibly "loyal and innocent." J.L. Pearcy advises that the Anti-Nazi League and ADL were "interested only in their own material benefit and their work is directed more in the line of persecution and of framing their enemies than the exposing of Nazism and Facism..."
November 4, 1942, the FBI reports contacts with ADL after reports "that the Anti-Defamation League was circulating a report which showed that during the year that organization conducted 373 investigations for the FBI....the Director had been forced to take the position long before the emergency that private investigative agencies had no excuse for existence, that they only created hysteria and contributed to vigilantism and a mob spirit...the FBI had never asked the ADL to conduct an investigation..." On November 26, 1942, The FBI reveals the person responsible was Jacob Spolansky, of the American Jewish Committee.
The ADL offers to disband after the FBI reports on the activities of undercover ADL investigator Frank Prince, who had announced he would soon be replacing the FBI director...
On June 30, 1943, Luigi S. Crisculo reports being baited by Anti-Nazi and Anti-Defamation League agents claiming to be "unofficial auxiliaries of the Department of Justice."
Special Agent in Charge Sears opinion that some ADL reports of anti-Semitism and undercover investigations "not worth anything....(rumor) for political purposes. "Sears glad-hands them and personally reviews their complaints and is not worried about their indirect complaint—that's the way they keep themselves important."
On November 15, 1943 SAC Drayton complains to the FBI director about insistent requests his FBI field office participate in an ADL meeting. "I am writing to the Bureau because I cannot understand the reason for the insistence of the Anti Defamation League that a representative of this Bureau address this group. However, I feel that there is some ulterior motive which influences them to be so insistent. In any event, no representative of this office will address this meeting."
February 9, 1944 FBI report that Jack Holmes of Warner Brothers Studio claimed the ADL had received $3 million in 1943 "most of which was contributed by the major motion picture studios and by prominent Jewish motion picture actors, directors and others prominent in the industry. He stated that Warner Brothers Studio alone contributed $60,000 to the fund..." ADL reported to try to spotlight activities of Japanese Americans through "secret fund."
Nissan Gross, of the ADL requests on March 21, 1944 if he can periodically check with the FBI to see whether a "duplication of investigation" is occurring and if he could "under such circumstances, he could check with this office to ascertain the information that we had on file in regard to the individual or whether we were in fact conducting an investigation of the individual."
Gross rebuffed by SAC Drayton - report on March 24, 1944. "As the Bureau can see, under the procedure suggested by Gross, the Anti Defamation League would have an opportunity to learn of the informants being utilized by the Bureau and would also be in a position to learn of those under investigation."
U.S. Senator Rufus Holman asks for an FBI and DOJ investigation claiming the ADL was orchestrating a boycott of his business and reelection campaign, April 10, 1944. "Senator Holman stated he understood that the purpose of the organization was to uncover anti-Jewish statements and that the Jews would then boycott people who were reported to make such remarks without a hearing or chance to be heard...He further remarked that there was no check upon the activities of the Anti Defamation League..." Portland FBI office confirms it carries attorney David Robinson, head of the ADL Oregon office, as Confidential Informant #7 "on the Bureau's records..." and that "Robinson is endeavoring to line up the Jewish vote behind Morse [Homan's opponent]." Special Agent David A. Silver reports "Jack Barde of the Barde Steel Company and Abe Gilbert of the Gilbert Hardware Company, both of Portland, and both Jews, gave a dinner for Senator Holman. Silver said he was heard that Robinson chided them for doing so."
Holman asks that the Attorney General "answer the following questions:
1. Is the Anti-Defamation League recognized officiallyy by the Government and the United States?
2. How do they determine who is Anti-Semitic?
3. What is their weapon?
4. Who finances it? Who contributes to it and in what amounts?"