Abolishing America (contd.): Rename FBI Building After Who?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is taking one
kick to its shins after another, from the Robert Hanssen
to its screw-up of evidence in the Oklahoma
City bombing to the most recent tale of how piles of its
own weapons and equipment have suddenly vanished, and
all this on top of the Waco
and Ruby
disasters a few years ago. It almost makes you
think the time is ripe for reform.

In fact, not a few people are talking about reforming
the FBI, and some suggestions seem to make sense. One
that doesn`t but which nevertheless tells us quite a
bit about the kinds of minds making it is the renewed
demand to scrape the name of J. Edgar Hoover off the
Bureau`s headquarters.

Washington Post
columnist Colbert King brought this up several
ago, and last week his colleague Richard Cohen
jumped into the anti-Hoover parade as
. [“Makeover for the FBI”, The
June 24] What their proposal ought to tell us
is that they really have less interest in improving the
FBI than in getting even with one of liberalism`s most
hated enemies—and one of the greatest Americans of the
last century.

The main charge against Hoover, you see, seems to be
that he spied on Martin Luther King, Jr., and Mr. Cohen
even suggests we rename the FBI building after King
himself. There are other charges against Hoover
too —that he spied on Communists and the left and he
didn`t respect civil liberties— but what Mr. Cohen
and Co. really despise about Hoover is simply that he
was never of their ideological crowd.

Among the specific charges Mr. Cohen hurls at the
late FBI director are that “Hoover is the same
guy—is he not? —who authorized the bugging of Martin
Luther King`s hotel room (at the Willard) and the
tapping of his telephone.” Well, not, as a matter of
fact. As historian David Garrow made clear years ago in
his book
on King and the FBI, it was John and Robert Kennedy who
authorized the FBI surveillance of King—because the
“civil rights leader” was associating with known
communists and because he even went so far as to lie to
President Kennedy to his face about having broken his
links with one of them.

Mr. Cohen coyly drags in yet another smear of
Hoover—”I have said nothing,” he smirks, “about
reports that Hoover occasionally wore a dress—a black,
fluffy number, according to a biography of the former
FBI director.” In the first place, crime historian
Peter Maas refuted the smear about the dress years ago
in a major article in The New Yorker. In the second
place, is the progressive Mr. Cohen really some kind of
“homophobe” who thinks men who cross-dress
shouldn`t have buildings named after them? Or is
“homophobia” OK when the target is a hated enemy of
the left?

He also claims Hoover “for a long time … insisted
[the Mafia] didn`t exist.” This seems to be yet
another lie. I have read two major biographies of
Hoover, (by Richard
Gid Powers
and Curt
) and nowhere can I find a statement that the
Mafia didn`t exist. It`s true the FBI didn`t
pursue organized crime very much under Hoover—for one
thing, most organized crime (gambling, prostitution,
extortion) is local and state crime, and the FBI
doesn`t have jurisdiction, or else it`s the kind of
crime (bootlegging, drugs) for which there are special
federal agencies (Treasury, the Narcotics Bureau).

J. Edgar Hoover certainly had his flaws. He was
actually less alert to the threat of Soviet espionage
than he should have been, and he was perhaps too quick
to order the Bureau to hound down opponents of the
Kennedy-Johnson “civil rights” agenda in the 1960s.
He became too old for the job he created, and he should
have retired years before his death in 1972.

But Hoover built the FBI up being from a crooked
little broom closet in the 1920s to what became—under
him—the best law enforcement and counter-espionage
agency in the world, an agency that won the hatred of
the criminals
and traitors
it busted as well as of those who befriended them in the
media, and he ran it with an iron discipline that has
long since vanished. So has the Bureau`s reputation
for the competence and integrity that Hoover`s
discipline created.

doubt in the New America that people like Mr. Cohen want
to concoct, Hoover`s name will disappear, along with
the Confederate
and the American
and the national anthem and every other symbol
and icon of the Old America that people like Mr. Cohen
want to destroy. But it will be a while before the New
America is able to produce another J. Edgar Hoover;
Martin Luther King may well be the best it can ever come
up with.


July 26,