On this day in 1924, J Edgar Hoover became the head of the FBI — then called Bureau of Investigation. And he stayed in that post for almost fifty years, leaving only when he died. Apologists for him note that he turned it into the modern and professional organization that it is today. But if that’s the best you can say about him, it’s sad. The FBI has recently admitted to using forensic pseudoscience for years. And now we have an FBI that seems to spend the bulk of its time “foiling” terror plots that it creates. See, for example: FBI Creates Terror Plots to Foil Them; FBI Makes Us Less Safe With Fake Terror Plots; and FBI Foils Another of Its Own Terrorist Attacks.
But the truth is that Hoover was a vile man. People think that Richard Nixon ran a crime syndicate. It was nothing compared to Hoover’s. The only reason he wasn’t replaced as head of the FBI was that he had so much dirt on those people who had power over him. And where did he get that dirt? Through his corrupt use of the FBI. As I will discuss later today, the government always gets screwed up when it works in secret. And Hoover was on the leading edge of that. He was also a bigot. He was a truly vile man.
So happy anniversary for the major mistake of giving J Edgar Hoover any power at all.