Government officials had been keeping strict tabs on the ex-Beatle they referred to as "Mr. Lennon." But the official U.S. war against Lennon began in earnest in 1972 when he was served with deportation orders. While the orders were supposedly for a four-year-old marijuana conviction in Great Britain, what Lennon didn't realize was that Nixon was personally driving the effort to have him deported.
FBI files, made public after years of lawsuits, reveal the extent of the Nixon Administration's efforts to "neutralize" Lennon. (However, while ominous in tone, the term "neutralize"--as used by government agents--was never really defined.) With FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover at the helm and reporting to the Nixon White House about the FBI's surveillance of Lennon, memos and reports had been flying back and forth between senators, the FBI and the U.S. Immigration Office. Clearly forces were at work to "neutralize" Lennon.
Nixon's pursuit of Lennon was relentless--and in large part based on the misperception that Lennon and his comrades were planning to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention. The government's paranoia, however, was misplaced.