As a young man, Edward M. Kennedy allegedly arranged to rent a brothel for the night in Santiago, Chile, according to material from his FBI file that was released today by a Washington-based conservative watchdog group.
Kennedy, during a 1961 visit to the South American country, "made arrangements to 'rent' a brothel for an entire night. Kennedy allegedly invited one of the Embassy chauffeurs to participate in the night's activities," according to a Dec. 28, 1961 memo released by the group Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch said the document from Kennedy's file had previously been almost completely redacted, but the group said it had won release of a version with fewer redactions after battling with the Obama administration.
Kennedy was 29 in 1961, serving as an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County. He had been married for two years to his first wife, Joan. His brother John had been elected president in 1960.
Edward Kennedy would eventually win a seat in the US Senate in a November 1962 special election. He would serve there until his death in 2009, becoming a liberal icon as decades went by. He sought the Democratic nomination for president in 1980.
Judicial Watch, the group that released the records, said it had a "tough fight" with the Obama administration to get the material released and the FBI's reluctance to release the file showed "it, too, is not above politics."
The document, which appeared to be a memo between top FBI officials with the subject "Ted Kennedy," also said that Kennedy, who was on a tour of several Latin American countries, "insisted on interviewing the 'angry young men'" of each country.
"He wanted to meet with communists and others who had left-wing views," the memo said.
In Mexico, Kennedy asked that "certain left-wingers" be invited to the embassy, but the ambassador refused, according to the memo.
"Douglas Henderson, State official in Lima, confidentially advised that Kennedy had made similar requests in Peru. Henderson described Kennedy as a pompous and spoiled brat," the memo said.
Burton Hersh, author of "Edward Kennedy: an Intimate Biography," said, "These tidbits dredged out of hearsay rarely mean much."
"The stuff that turns up in FBI, or even CIA, documents is third-hand. It is somebody who ran into somebody in a hotel lobby who thought he saw Kennedy doing something. ... These raw files are very far from substantiated reality," Hersh said.
Hersh said longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, a fervent participant in the Cold War paranoia of the 1940s and 1950s, disapproved of Kennedy, feeling he was "way too far to the left."
Kennedy was widely perceived at the time as someone who was going to run for some office following in the footsteps of his brother John and in the path outlined for him by his father, Joseph P. Kennedy.
"[Edward] Kennedy earned a reputation around the district attorney's office as a hard worker who took his job seriously and made friends easily -- someone who was comfortable with his celebrity. He worked just as hard after he left the office, keeping up with the responsibilities that continued to accrue to him as his father's grooming plan took shape. He was named president of the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Foundation and chairman of the 1961 Cancer Crusade. He took periodic fact-finding tours to Latin America and other foreign lands. And he toured the state," making the acquaintance of every "county commissioner and municipal clerk from Pembroke to Pittsfield," according to "Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy" by the team at The Boston Globe.
After the trip, Kennedy wrote a five-part series of reports for the Globe detailing the findings of his trip.
"Democracy has not failed in Latin America," he wrote in one. "It simply has not been tried. Now, when communism is making its most determined effort to win control of the discontented and often destitute millions south of our border, Latin American leaders realize the only defense is the creation of genuinely democratic governments. Given sufficient time, freedom will win. But will there be time -- or has long neglect and poverty made the people of Latin America impatient for the kind of swift solution promised by Red propagandists? This is the decisive question."
In another dispatch, he wrote, "It is difficult to talk about democracy to a Latin American peasant who is wondering whether he will go to bed hungry tonight."
Dennis Argall, assistant section chief for the records dissemination section of the FBI, said the information was released in a redacted form six months ago because the FBI had to check with the agency where the information originated before releasing it to the public.
"We had to send it to another agency and when the information came back, that is when it was released," he said. The files indicate that the information originated at the CIA and the State Department.
A Kennedy family spokeswoman didn't immediately return a message seeking comment.
Farah Stockman of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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