Millions trusted baby doctor, but FBI didn't,
 agency's files show October 16, 1999
      Web posted at: 12:28 PM EDT (1628 GMT)

      DALLAS (AP) -- Newly opened FBI files reveal that former Director J. Edgar Hoover ordered extensive surveillance of famed baby expert Dr. Benjamin Spock because of his anti-Vietnam war speeches.

      "He reportedly is liberal, 'politically speaking,' and his stand on nuclear disarmament and some social reforms have caused some people (to) question his loyalty," Hoover wrote in a 1965 letter to President Lyndon Johnson.

      The FBI released more than 1,700 pages of Spock's files after a Freedom of Information Act request from The Dallas Morning News, which reported on the material Saturday.

      Spock rose to international renown with his 1946 book on raising children, "Baby and Child Care," which sold more that 40 million copies.

      In 1990, Life magazine listed him among "The 100 Most Important Americans of the 20th Century," and Newsweek in 1994 called him "arguably, the most influential American alive today."

      Spock died last year at age 94.

      To the FBI, Spock was a subversive and a "rabble rouser."

      The file on Spock provides a window on the government's campaign against left-wing protesters of the era, a time of deep suspicion and acrimony on both sides of the Vietnam issue.

      The bureau had done a routine background check on the pediatrician in 1964 before his appointment by President Johnson to the National Advisory Council for the war on poverty.

      A memo to Hoover noted that Spock was "not known to be a member of, or sympathetic to, the Communist Party." Nevertheless, his anti-war activities -- mainly marches and speeches -- caught the bureau's attention.

      Spock urged draftees to resist conscription, and in 1968 he was indicted for conspiracy to violate Selective Service laws. Some evidence against him was came from an FBI wiretap of his office, the files show.

      A federal court convicted Spock, but he was acquitted on appeal.

      Still, the FBI surveillance did not stop, the files demonstrate. Spock had been placed on the bureau's "agitator index," with information on his activities furnished to the White House "on a continuing basis."

      By 1972, the bureau was having second thoughts about watching Spock.  Acting Director L. Patrick Gray asked whether the Spock inquiry should be closed, and an FBI official responded:

      "There are more dangerous characters around needing our attention. ... The basis for investigation appears to be -- pick someone you dislike and start investigating."

      FBI spokesman David Miller told the Morning News that such tactics are "of a bygone age." Investigative guidelines were tightened beginning in the late 1970s, he said.