Sam Greenlee is perhaps most famous for writing the novel The Spook Who Sat By the Door, which was adapted into a film in the 1970s. Greenlee believed that the CIA and FBI suppressed the film because it portrayed them in such a bad light, and promoted black militancy. A recent response from the Bureau said that they cannot locate their file on Greenlee, which might have shed light on these allegations.
I currently have multiple requests in with the FBI on The Spook Who Sat By the Door, one of the most politically controversial and important films ever made in the US. In a recent letter they responded:
A search of the Central Records System reflected there were records potentially responsive to your FOIA. We have attempted to obtain this material so it could be reviewed to determine whether it was responsive to your request.
We were advised that the potentially responsive records were not in their expected location and could not be located after a reasonable search. Following a reasonable waiting period, another attempt was made to obtain this material.
What makes this particularly strange is that the FBI told two other requesters quite different things. MuckRock editor JPat Brown filed an identical request and the FBI didn’t mention any search of their Central Records System or any responsive files. They simply directed him to the National Archives with the same file reference number they provided to me.
Meanwhile, MuckRock user and journalist Katie Zavadski also filed a request for Greenlee’s FBI file and got the same response that I did – that the Central Records System did find file references on Greenlee but the documents themselves could not be located. Exactly why they didn’t search the Central Records System in response to Brown’s request (or if they did, why they didn’t mention this) is not clear. It will only add to the suspicion that there is something to the story that American intelligence suppressed the film of The Spook Who Sat By the Door.