The FBI this week released 2,352 pages of previously confidential records on the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). Most of the material concerned the numerous threats on his life, but tucked inside the long-awaited documents were some "tantalizing" tidbits gleaned from informants, unsolicited letters, and conversations overheard in church pews, among other sources. (Watch an MSNBC report about Ted Kennedy's FBI file.) Here's a look at five of the most noteworthy revelations:
1. The Rat Pack, Marilyn, and the Kennedy brothers at "sex parties"?
A particularly scandalous note, from July 12, 1965, reports that a former ambassador's wife, Jacqueline Hammond, then 40, "has considerable information regarding sex parties which took place at the Carlyle Hotel in NYC, and in which a number of persons participated at times. Among those mentioned were the following individuals: Robert F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy, Sammy Davis, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, and Marilyn Monroe." There was no mention of how Hammond, a millionaire socialite who kept a room at the posh Carlyle, knew of the alleged "sex parties." There's no verification of the rumor.
2. The Mafia wanted the Kennedy boys in "compromising situations"
In a possibly related report from July 1965, the FBI was tipped off by an informant that elements of the Mafia wanted to "attack the characters" of Robert and Ted Kennedy by "working with associates of Frank Sinatra to arrange for their women to be placed in compromising situations in the presence of any or all of the two Kennedys and Peter Lawford," their movie-star brother-in-law. Marilyn Monroe was also involved in the "convoluted rumor." The FBI says the uncorroborated plot was retaliation for Robert Kennedy's "attacks" on the Mafia when he was attorney general.
3. The Nixon White House wanted FBI Chappaquiddick dirt
The documents reveal that the FBI knew about the notorious accident — Kennedy drove off a bridge and left the passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, to drown — almost right away. The FBI initially kept Kennedy's involvement a secret, and never investigated the incident, "since there were no violations of federal criminal law involved." The Nixon White House, on the other hand, was interested in Kopechne, especially a 1968 trip she might have taken to Greece and a former "hoodlum" boyfriend. Watergate figure John Dean, who requested the files, now says Nixon was looking for dirt on Kennedy, in case he ran against him in 1972.
4. Bobby Kennedy killer Sirhan Sirhan tried to kill Teddy from jail
Another report says that the inmate jailed next to Sirhan Sirhan — the man who killed Robert Kennedy in 1968 — said in 1977 that Sirhan "offered him one million dollars and a car in exchange for killing Senator Kennedy." The report adds, that the ex-con "advised he declined the contract." Other reported death threats came from a man identified as Sonny Capone (possibly gangster Al Capone's son, Francis); the KKK, "Minutemen” groups, and the National Socialist White People’s Party; Cuban nationals; a man with a crossbow; and in 1985, a Michigan woman who also wanted to kill President Reagan.
5. Joe Kennedy, Sr. wanted J. Edgar Hoover to run for president
The new documents showed that Kennedy patriarch Joseph Kennedy was a "special service contact" for the FBI for 11 years and on a first-name basis with then-FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. In 1964, Ted Kennedy asked Hoover for personal recollections of Joe Kennedy, and Hoover replied with a seven-page essay, including the claim that the senior Kennedy had urged Hoover to run for president in 1956, "guaranteeing me the largest campaign contribution I would ever get from anyone, and his personal services as the hardest campaign worker in history."