Now that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is removing a statue of Robert E. Lee from a state-owned park in Richmond, isn’t it time that the federal government did a little house-cleaning of its own? A good place to start would be by enacting legislation that forces the FBI to strip the name of J. Edgar Hoover, the serial blackmailer and destroyer of the innocent who served as head of the FBI for 37 years, from its building in the nation’s capital.
The FBI was founded in 1935, at the height of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, which revolutionized America’s economic system by converting it to a welfare state and government-managed economy. From its inception, the bureau was headed by Hoover, who had been serving as director of the FBI’s predecessor, the Bureau of Investigation. He remained as head of the FBI until his death in 1972.
The big reason Hoover was able to remain in power for so long was that he secretly compiled compromising information on presidents, members of Congress, the press, and anyone else who might dare to question or challenge him. He would then use that information, which he stored in top-secret FBI files, to blackmail people into leaving him alone or, even better, becoming one of his supporters.
During the Cold War, in what can only be called an extreme bout of anti-communist paranoia, Hoover, along with his cohorts in the CIA and the rest of the U.S. national-security establishment, became convinced that there was a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over America and the rest of the world. This conspiracy, they said, was based in Moscow, Russia (yes, that Russia!), with connections to Beijing, China, Pyongyang, North Korea, Hanoi, North Vietnam, and Havana, Cuba.
To prevent this supposed conspiracy from succeeding, Hoover used his FBI to embark on a program of mass criminality, which included illegal wiretaps, blackmail, defamation, false rumor-mongering, illegal burglaries, illegal surveillance, harassment, abuse, character assassination, and even real assassination.
Hoover became convinced that the U.S. civil rights movement was a spearhead in the communist conspiracy to take over America. Consequently, he, like his fellow cold warriors in the national-security establishment, viewed civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King as grave threats to “national security.”
That’s why Hoover placed King under illegal surveillance, which included the illegal wiretapping of his telephone. In an attempt to eradicate this supposed threat to “national security,” Hoover had his FBI goons blackmail King with compromising information about a supposed extra-marital affair that they had acquired with their illegal wiretapping. The purpose of the blackmail was to induce King to commit suicide in return for keeping the compromising information secret.
Of course, King wasn’t Hoover’s only victim. In my blog post yesterday, I detailed how Hoover and his goons did their best to destroy an innocent Hollywood actress named Jean Seberg through secret surveillance, wiretapping, and false rumor-mongering. Seberg’s “crime”? Trying to stem police brutality against blacks by donating money to a militant organization called the Black Panthers.
And then there was Dalton Trumbo and all the rest of the Hollywood writers and actors who had their careers destroyed or damaged by the anti-communist Cold War paranoia that afflicted Hoover and his national-security state cohorts.
Hoover secretly termed his illegal program of destruction of innocent people COINTELPRO, for counterintelligence program. Its aim was to surveil, infiltrate, discredit, destroy, prosecute, incarcerate, humiliate, defame, intimidate, hand even assassinate people and organizations who were deemed to be “subversive.” In the process, Hoover and his goons ended up targeting and destroying countless innocent people and organizations that had committed no real crimes but who were secretly labeled as threats to “national security.”
Our American ancestors would never have approved a federal government with a national police force because they knew that such a force is irreconcilable with a free society. That’s why there was no FBI for more than 125 years after the Constitution called the federal government into existence. Our ancestors understood that criminal justice belonged at the state and local level, not the federal level.
Among the best things Americans today could ever do is to restore the founding principle of America of a decentralized criminal justice system by abolishing the FBI. At the very least, Congress should enact legislation that stops the FBI from continuing to glorify its former leader, a serial blackmailer and destroyer of the innocent, by keeping his name on the FBI’s building in Washington, D.C.