WASHINGTON/BOSTON (Reuters) - Late Senator Edward Kennedy was subject to scores of death threats before and after the assassinations of his brothers, according to FBI files released on Monday that also revealed efforts by the Kennedy family to fight rumors that he had links to Communists.
The FBI released more than 2,200 pages from its archives about Kennedy, who died at age 77 in August 2009 of brain cancer, most of which revealed details of threats and extortion schemes against the Massachusetts senator.
Kennedy spent 47 years as one of the liberal champions of the U.S. Senate, focusing on health care and civil rights, carrying on the political legacy of his slain brothers.
While some of the threats against him appeared to be nonpolitical, they also originated from members of radical groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, “Minutemen” organizations and the National Socialist White People’s Party.
The senator wrote in his memoir about his fears of being killed in the wake of the assassinations of his brothers President John F. Kennedy Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy Jr. in 1963 and 1968 respectively.
In one plot against Kennedy, the FBI investigated an allegation by a federal prisoner in Soledad, California, that Sirhan Sirhan, Robert Kennedy’s killer, had attempted to hire the prisoner to kill Edward Kennedy upon release.
“He advised during this time (that) subject offered him one million dollars and a car in exchange for killing Senator Kennedy ... he advised he declined the contract,” said the document dated Nov 29, 1977.
Other documents revealed the family’s fight against rumors that Kennedy associated with Communists. A 1962 FBI memorandum outlined how his father, Joseph Kennedy, called about a rumor of a purported FBI report linking his son to a group of “pinkos,” slang for Communists, and that had kept him out of a Maryland school.
While the elder Kennedy said he threatened to sue the reporter for libel, the memorandum noted that FBI files “reflected that we had conducted no investigation concerning Edward Kennedy, and Mr. Kennedy was advised of this fact.”
Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Stacey Joyce