Michael Jackson's FBI file consists of about 600 pages


Michael Petrelis submitted a Freedom of Information Act to the FBI for any records in their archive about Michael Jackson.

I expected the agency would reply saying they didn't locate any such records, or that there were only a handful on pages on the late entertainer. I was wrong. A letter from the FBI yesterday informs me they've located close to 600 pages on him. As I've learned from years of filing these sort of FOIAs, it's going to be a while before anything is released, and, when pages are eventually provided to me, they could be quite mundane.
I'll be interested to see what they contain, if only for snoopy, gossippy, kitsch value.

(via instapundit)


  1. Anyone else notice that Michael Petrelis’ address is still visible through the greyed-out box?

    Sorta ironic given that this is essentially a post about privacy…

  2. Well, considering that he faced criminal charges (which he beat), and that allegations of pedophilia and child abuse dogged him for years, one would expect him to have a file.

  3. I’d actually be interested to see the FOIA request. Many journalists have taken to asking for everything, from e-mails to post-its (many government employees will print important things on post-its just to evade FOIA requests that aren’t specific enough). Some of these pages may be legitimate documents, but depending on how thorough Petrelis is, he may end up with a lot of memos and sticky notes. (Point being–600 pages could be exaggerated easily)

  4. I pick up all kinds of astounding things on BB.

    For example, via this post I am amazed to learn that just anybody can request info under FOIA on just anybody. I had always (mis-)understood the law to be that (1) I have the right to request information about myself but (2) I have to state specifically the kinds of records I’m looking for.

    Apparently, any jackass, er, stranger can ask Uncle Sam for whatever random info they think might be extant abut me.

    This, to me, is far more unsettling than the number of records accumulated on a Really Famous Person.

  5. @ #4

    When you FOIA someone else, all kinds of stuff is blacked out that is not when you FOIA yourself, but being able to FOIA other people is essential.

    Think about it for a moment:
    if FOIA could be evaded by the government simply asserting “oh, so sorry, this information is about someone else,” the purpose of the law – for citizens to know what the government is up to – would be defeated.

  6. I am thinking that a lot of useless information was collected by a lot of useless government employees. A serious cleaning up of worthless tax parasites responsible for collecting this info is needed.

  7. BTW…

    I’m sure THE Michael Jackson wasn’t the only Michael Jackson alive with a FBI record.

    So you might end up buying 500 pages of some guys robberies and shit.

  8. #4: you are thinking of the Privacy Act, which gives you the right to request specific types of records about yourself. The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to request any government record, as long as it doesn’t fall into certain categories (like violating someone else’s privacy rights), in which case the info that can’t be approved for public release gets redacted.

  9. My guess is that since the FBI gets a steady stream of letters from crazy people, there’s probably more than one in the USA who’s included something about Michael Jackson into their insane rants, copies of which are probably in the file.

    Jackson also had (probably more than) his fair share of real stalkers that were worth investigating, so they’d probably be in there too.

  10. damn. didn’t lennon just get like 120-200 pages? what the fuck man?

    wonder how long mine is now….

  11. @13..

    I’m curious where you got that estimate from. i cannot see why the FBI would have anything but 0 pages on me, or any other felony-free average citizen either.

  12. I’m curious where you got that estimate from. i cannot see why the FBI would have anything but 0 pages on me, or any other felony-free average citizen either.

    I believe that most people don’t: that’s one thing that instant background checks check for and most people will “pass”. The biggest reason why a felony-free citizen would have an FBI file is if she/he has or had a US security clearance.

  13. All kinds of ways to get yourself an FBI file. I assume I have one because, as a child of about ten, I wrote a letter to the Soviet embassy in DC to request information about their country for a school project.

    (From here on, this gets the “As I recall it” disclaimer.)

    Many years later I read about the case of someone who had done exactly the same thing, somehow discovered (or maybe guessed) that a file had been started on him because of it, and was suing the FBI to see it.

    The FBI admitted they had a file on him, agreed that they didn’t think he was any kind of security risk to the country, but vigorously resisted the suit, claiming that revealing his file would reveal their methods. They won.

    By the way, I got a _huge_ packet back, far more stuff than anybody else in class got from their countries. (That’ll teach you to pick Ecuador. Pff.) A lot of it was mind-numbingly dull, like a thick booklet of tiny, dense type on thin, vaguely greasy pages called “Our Course: Peace and Socialism,” by Leonid Brezhnev. But the stuff about the space program had lots of pictures of badass rockets. Those played heavily in my final report.

  14. Being related to a person with significant security clearance might also result in a file – I got interviewed by the FBI as a middle schooler when my dad got a promotion and bump up on the security ladder (army brat). I recall thinking it was very silly.

  15. I would HOPE that they would have a file on a guy that molested children…but more likely it’s details about death threats and the like.

    Or his employee information, he did work for MIB after all.

  16. One might presume that 1. Jackson had lots of unwanted interstate interactions with his stalkers, guaranteeing the FBI would amass many pages on him that would not reflect badly on him or on the FBI, and 2. the privacy interests of his children will cause most of his file to be blacked out.

  17. There is actually a bigger historic lesson on privacy here:

    The Hoover FBI famously collected data on celebrities for purposes of blackmail.

    Even if MJ diddled no children illegally, any relationships he had with others could be used to blackmail them.

  18. If you want to get a copy of your own FBI File, try using


    It shows you how to create the form letters you’ll need to send to get this records, if they exist, from FBI Headquarters and relevant FBI Field Offices.

    There are also opportunities to click additional boxes and generate form letters to ask for your files from NSA, DSS, CIA, USMS, DIA, USSS and CID (National Security Agency, Defense Security Service, U.S. Marshals Service, Defense Intelligence Agency, U.S. Secret Service, and the Army Criminal Investigative Command).

    If you don’t trust this site, you can leave all the info blank and fill it in by hand with a pen.

    Remember, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

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