February 09, 2012, 1:58 PM — The Federal Bureau of Investigation's file on Steve Jobs contains no bombshells, unless the fact that some people in Silicon Valley didn't trust the Apple co-founder comes as a shock to you.
First, though, is the question: Why did the FBI even have a file on Jobs? Was he considered a threat or under criminal investigation? Not at all. The bureau in 1991 actually was conducting a background check because Jobs was on President George H.W. Bush's short list of candidates for the President's Export Council. (Jobs didn't get the appointment.)
At the time Jobs wasn't even at Apple. He had resigned in 1985 following a failed boardroom coup against CEO John Sculley and started NeXT Computer. Jobs was 36 at the time of the FBI's background check.
As I mentioned, the file is huge -- 191 pages. You don't get to any good stuff (aside from mention of a class-action lawsuit against Apple) until page 37, where you'll see a summary memo from William Baker, assistant director of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.
In the memo, we learn that:
Several individuals commented concerning past drug use on the part of Mr. Jobs.
Several individuals questioned Mr. Jobs' honesty stating that Mr. Jobs will twist the truth and distort reality in order to achieve his goals.
They also commented that in the past, Mr. Jobs was not supportive of (the mother of his child born out of wedlock) and their daughter; however, recently has become more supportive.
While it's nice to see an early acknowledgement of Jobs's famous Reality Distortion Field, there are no revelations here. This is all covered in Walter Isaacson's recent biography on Jobs and elsewhere. C'mon, FBI, that's the best you can do?
It is worth noting, though, that the FBI concluded in 1991 that "based on the background information furnished by Mr. Jobs, he has no close relatives residing in communist-controlled countries."
What a relief! Wait a minute, what about Muslim countries?
One interviewee who was not a fan of Jobs offered back-handed support for his appointment to a government panel:
[Interviewee] concluded the interview by stating that even though he does not consider Mr. Jobs to be a friend, he (Mr. Jobs) possesses the qualities to assume a high-level political position. It was [the interviewee's] opinion that honesty and integrity are not required qualities to hold such a position. [Interviewee] recommended him for a position of trust and confidence with the Government.
Newt, is that you?
The vast majority of interviewees, it seems, were work colleagues of Jobs.