J. Edgar Hoover

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J. Edgar Hoover
Full Name: John Edgar Hoover
Origin: Washington D.C.
Occupation: Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1924 - 1972)
Hobby: Abusing his power
Goals: Keep total control over the FBI (successful until 1972)
Crimes: Abuse of power
Type of Villain: Corrupt Official

Justice is incidental to law and order.
~ J. Edgar Hoover

John Edgar Hoover (January 1st, 1895 - May 2nd, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor of the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 at age 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a larger crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.


However Hoover had a darker side, during his time in his position as Director. On multiple occasions he had abused his power. There are reports of him blackmailing politicians, unfairly (and sometimes illegally) persecuting political dissidents (most famously Martin Luther King Jr). He was a well-known racist and implemented the creation of COINTELPRO.

Other cases include falsely framing Ma Barker as a crime boss, to cover up her being killed in the crossfire of a shootout with the Barker Gang. He had also ruined the careers and reputations of several other agents, such as Melvin Purvis, all so that he could claim the credit for their work for himself. There were also other rumors of he himself being blackmailed by the mob.

Some conspiracy theorists speculated that he was involved in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy or helped cover up the trail of the real killers and have Lee Harvey Oswald be the fall guy for the assassination. However, there is little, if any, hard evidence to back up these theories. It is known, though, that after Kennedy was shot, Hoover called the President`s brother Robert F. Kennedy. The two men had a long-standing enmity. Hoover said: "The President`s been shot." Before RFK could ask any questions, Hoover put the phone down. There was no element of empathy. RFK later said Hoover had enjoyed telling him. 

He also denied the existence of organized crime during the 1930's, despite the fact that the American Mafia was arguably at the height of their power.


Hoover worked to groom the image of the FBI in American media; he was a consultant to Warner Brothers for a theatrical film about the FBI, The FBI Story (1959), and in 1965 on Warner's long-running spin-off television series, The F.B.I. Hoover personally made sure Warner Brothers portrayed the FBI more favorably than other crime dramas of the times.

In 1979 there was a large increase in conflict in the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) under Senator Richard Schweiker, which had re-opened the investigation of the assassination of President Kennedy and reported that Hoover's FBI failed to investigate adequately the possibility of a conspiracy to assassinate the President. The HSCA further reported that Hoover's FBI was deficient in its sharing of information with other agencies and departments.

U.S. President Harry S Truman said that Hoover transformed the FBI into his private secret police force. Because Hoover's actions came to be seen as abuses of power, FBI directors are now limited to one 10-year term, subject to extension by the United States Senate.

The FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is named the J. Edgar Hoover Building, after Hoover. Because of the controversial nature of Hoover's legacy, there have been periodic proposals to rename it by legislation proposed by both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate. The first such proposal came just two months after the building's inauguration.

On December 12, 1979, Gilbert Gude – a Republican congressman from Maryland – introduced H.R. 11137, which would have changed the name of the edifice from the "J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building" to simply the "F.B.I. Building." However, that bill never made it out of committee, nor did two subsequent attempts by Gude. Another notable attempt came in 1993, when Democrat Senator Howard Metzenbaum pushed for a name change following a new report about Hoover's ordered "loyalty investigation" of future Senator Quentin Burdick. In 1998, Democrat Senator Harry Reid sponsored an amendment to strip Hoover's name from the building, stating that "J. Edgar Hoover's name on the FBI building is a stain on the building." The Senate did not adopt the amendment.

Hoover's practice of violating civil liberties for the sake of national security has been questioned in reference to recent national surveillance programs. An example is a lecture titled Civil Liberties and National Security: Did Hoover Get it Right?, given at The Institute of World Politics on April 21, 2015.