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BoF
QUOTE
J. Edgar Hoover, FBI director during all of King's adult life, took a growing interest in King as the young minister gained popularity. Hoover was convinced that King was under control of Communists and determined keep the civil rights leader from his role of leadership.

The warrantless surveillance of King started with phone taps and grew to include trespass and burglaries to install secret listening devices under King's hotel beds. Informers were also employed as well as direct surveillance by FBI teams.

<snip>

The tape was played for members of Congress, supervisory personnel of the FBI, the President, Attorney General and dozens of reporters. Members of the clergy and even some of King's associates were given listening sessions. Sullivan had a copy of the sex tape made and sent to King from Florida along with an anonymous letter urging King to commit suicide to prevent public release of the tape.

Sullivan's tape sat unopened for two months in a pile of mail. In January 1965 Coretta Scott King opened the package and listened to the tape. Author David Garrow describes the unhappy scene in his book The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr.

http://www.examiner.com/x-1969-Boston-Prog...Part-One-of-Two

Copy of redacted suicide letter written to Martin Luther king, Jr. by William C. Sullivan, Head of FBI's Intelligence Division

King was not Hoover’s only victim. According to NPR’s Frontline:

QUOTE
For nearly 50 years, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover amassed secret files on America's most prominent figures, files he used to smear and control presidents and politicians. Frontline reveals how Hoover's own secret life left him open to blackmail by the Mafia and offers a startling new explanation why the FBI allowed the mob to operate unchallenged for over two decades.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/pr.../info/1111.html

This is a partial list of Hoover’s victims - names highlighted below.

QUOTE
Bureau of Investigation, keeping statistical records of immigrants for the Alien Enemy Bureau. A vigorous anti-communist, Hoover quickly moved up the ranks in the postwar period, and by 1924 was appointed Director of the Bureau of Investigation (later called the Federal Bureau of Investigation). He held the post from 1924 to 1972, an administration that lasted from President Coolidge to President Nixon. Hoover had a reputation for hypervigilance in the face of crime and political subversion, and the F.B.I. grew to become known as incorruptible law officers who kept files on just about everybody, from gangsters and spies to pop culture figures including John Lennon, Martin Luther King, Jr., Marilyn Monroe and Eldridge Cleaver. Hoover has been a controversial figure since his death, and there has been much speculation about his personal life, family background and dictatorial rule over the Bureau; given his political power over five decades, he is a central figure in the history of scandal and U.S. politics.

http://www.answers.com/topic/j-edgar-hoover

I usually do my best, though times unsuccessfully, to start threads from a neutral position. I find this impossible with, at least, two historical figures – Sen. Joseph McCarthy and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

I am sure that those might support can build a case.

So I have the following questions for debate:

1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?

2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Coulld he be seen as both?


QUOTE
WASHINGTON -- On Halloween night, crusty conservative Judge Laurence H. Silberman had a scary tale to tell fellow right-wingers gathered for dinner at Washington's University Club. He told in more detail than ever before how J. Edgar Hoover as FBI director "allowed -- even offered -- the Bureau to be used by presidents for nakedly political purposes." He called for the director's name to be removed from the FBI's J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/12/01/nov...over/index.html

In 2005, Judge Laurence Silberman suggested that Hoover’s name b e removed from the FBI Building in Washington, D. C.

3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?
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moif
1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?

Given how often the man's name seems to be associated with horrific tales of political scandal and corruption I'd have to say negative. I find it odd that US presidents get 8 years at the most but Hoover was in such a political office for five decades.


2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Coulld he be seen as both?

Yes he can be seen as both, and I think when dealing with corruption it bears well to remember that corruption can be a product of responsibility, but in Hoovers case it seems that the man was given far too much personal political power and he was corrupted beyond justification as a result.


3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?

I would. I'd rename the building after some one from the FBI who died in the line of duty.
TedN5
1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?

2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Could he be seen as both?

3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?

Negative, criminal, and yes! Historians have been actively reviewing Hoover's nefarious role for years and should continue. That said, this hardly belongs at the forefront of a public agenda that includes addressing global warming, an economic crisis, and the far more urgent need of providing some accountability for torture and war crimes.
BoF
QUOTE(TedN5 @ Jun 18 2009, 05:05 PM) *
That said, this hardly belongs at the forefront of a public agenda that includes addressing global warming, an economic crisis, and the far more urgent need of providing some accountability for torture and war crimes.

True. Your words are hard to argue with. Yet I started this thread in "History Debate," which is not a forum for debating pressing current needs.

Removing Hoover's name from the FBI Building might be easier than passing health care reform or cap and trade legislation, but it might also be an undesirable diversion.
Dingo
1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?
From what I know about him I'd say negative although not completely. In the political sense his long tenure was corrupt as hell but in the more day to day cop sense apparently the FBI were held to a high standard of professionalism.

Apparently he infiltrated the very small communist party in this country up to the eyeballs and yet until he was forced to wouldn't touch or even acknowledge organized crime. Like McCarthy he had commies on the brain big time.

Then it shifted to the anti-war left during Vietnam and in his counter intelligence program actively sought to undermine left groups. The Black Panthers were particularly a target.

2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Coulld he be seen as both?
I'd say he was both but more the latter. He diligently rounded up personal dirt on important political figures and used that to blackmail politicians, in particular presidents, to make sure he was never fired. And he got his wish although presidents from both parties at certain times wished they had the political cover to get rid of him. Hoover also cultivated his popularity with the public with books and movies. He made himself into an icon.

3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?
Absolutely. But it won't happen as long as there is a significant political right in this country. To them he stands next to God.

Amlord
1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?

I will say that he was a positive on balance although tinged with quite a few negatives.

Hoover basically formed and shaped the FBI into what it is today--the most highly regarded police organizations in the world. He held a high standard which FBI officers needed to maintain.

On the negative side, Hoover's reign shows the dangers of lack of term limits. During his decades long (48 years) post as the FBI Director, he amassed considerable power and felt he was an authority onto himself. He always had a particular bias against dissident groups and went after them with a vengeance.

The Communists were a particular target of Hoover's and I think it is safe to say that Hoover is directly responsible for limiting the spread of the Communist Party in this country. From a freedom standpoint this is bad, but the results over the decades have been good.

Hoover's proclivity for keeping files on just about everyone was a symptom of his power tripping egomania. Luckily, Presidents over the years did not act on his suggestions that the FBI round people up and deport them (although they did deport dissidents from time to time). So while it was bad that he had these files and it certainly had an impact on some individuals as well as dissident groups, the effects were not widespread although they could have been had he had more sympathy from the White House.


2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Could he be seen as both?

He was a diligent lawman and he broke the law. So the answer is both. This is yet another example of why we need to limit the power of the government. Recall that during Hoover's time in office, it wasn't just the power of the FBI that grew, it was the power of the entire federal government. Before World War II, the federal government was not involved to a large extent in the lives of everyday Americans. As things changed, as federal power grew, so did the power of the FBI. It wasn't all Hoover's fault. Congress gave him the authority and the Presidents were his bosses.

3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?

No. They guy basically built the FBI into what it is today. Yes he had flaws, major flaws. But without this guy we would not have the FBI as we know it now. Besides the guy has been dead for almost 40 years. Why do it now? Should we tear down the Jefferson Memorial because we now realize that owning slaves was bad?
BoF
QUOTE(Dingo @ Jun 18 2009, 08:34 PM) *
Absolutely. But it won't happen as long as there is a significant political right in this country. To them he stands next to God.

Amlord's post seems to make your point Dingo. down.gif cry.gif sad.gif

QUOTE(Amlord @ Jun 19 2009, 09:28 AM) *
1. Was J. Edgar Hoover more of a positive or negative in American History?

I will say that he was a positive on balance although tinged with quite a few negatives.

Hoover basically formed and shaped the FBI into what it is today--the most highly regarded police organizations in the world. He held a high standard which FBI officers needed to maintain.

On the negative side, Hoover's reign shows the dangers of lack of term limits. During his decades long (48 years) post as the FBI Director, he amassed considerable power and felt he was an authority onto himself. He always had a particular bias against dissident groups and went after them with a vengeance.

The Communists were a particular target of Hoover's and I think it is safe to say that Hoover is directly responsible for limiting the spread of the Communist Party in this country. From a freedom standpoint this is bad, but the results over the decades have been good.

Hoover's proclivity for keeping files on just about everyone was a symptom of his power tripping egomania. Luckily, Presidents over the years did not act on his suggestions that the FBI round people up and deport them (although they did deport dissidents from time to time). So while it was bad that he had these files and it certainly had an impact on some individuals as well as dissident groups, the effects were not widespread although they could have been had he had more sympathy from the White House.


2. Was he a diligent lawman or a criminal himself, who himself violated the rights of American citizens? Could he be seen as both?

He was a diligent lawman and he broke the law. So the answer is both. This is yet another example of why we need to limit the power of the government. Recall that during Hoover's time in office, it wasn't just the power of the FBI that grew, it was the power of the entire federal government. Before World War II, the federal government was not involved to a large extent in the lives of everyday Americans. As things changed, as federal power grew, so did the power of the FBI. It wasn't all Hoover's fault. Congress gave him the authority and the Presidents were his bosses.

3. Should Hoover’s name be stripped from the FBI Building?

No. They guy basically built the FBI into what it is today. Yes he had flaws, major flaws. But without this guy we would not have the FBI as we know it now. Besides the guy has been dead for almost 40 years. Why do it now? Should we tear down the Jefferson Memorial because we now realize that owning slaves was bad?

Your "respect" for Hoover, despite all I posted and even more we know is just incredible, buy not surprising. The thought that underlies much of your thinking, seems to be that authority should be able to operate, be obeyed and respected, if not held in reverence, even if it is as corrupt and misused as hell. Have I struck a nerve, eh Amlord. rolleyes.gif

Hoover was an authority figure, which balanced his career in his favor, at least in your eyes.

Authority without morality backing it up is empty. Without the morality aspect, authority is merely a tool for a bully. Among other things, Hoover was a bully - a voyeuristic bully.

Why hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if he masturbated while reading those "secret" files about John Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s sex lives. wacko.gif

Lyndon B. Johnson wanted to remove Hoover. In his own rather colorful Texas style here is what LBJ said. This quotation is confirmed by presidential historian Robert Dallek in his two volume definitive biography of Johnson.

I would like to see you prove Amlord, that the FBI would not have been as good or better without Hoover. That is pure speculation on your part.
TedN5
J. Edgar Hoover was a self promoting racist who built the FBI by concentrating on high profile cases with political appeal while deliberately denying and neglectling major crime threats like the Mafia. He was responsible for some of the most anti-democratic actions of the recent past. (See COINTELPRO).

QUOTE
Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that...the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.[7]
BoF
QUOTE(TedN5 @ Jun 19 2009, 11:15 AM) *
J. Edgar Hoover was a self promoting racist who built the FBI by concentrating on high profile cases with political appeal while deliberately denying and neglectling major crime threats like the Mafia. He was responsible for some of the most anti-democratic actions of the recent past. (See COINTELPRO).

QUOTE
Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all of the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that...the Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.[7]

I just thought of something.

J. Edgar Hoover was a law enforcement officer, who didn't think the law applied to him.

He a was a thoroughgoing authoritarian, who didn't seem to know, or care, that he himself was under the authority of the law.
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