Monday, April 21, 2014

The Burglary: The Discovery Of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a fine review of Betty Medsger's The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover's Secret FBI in the Washington Times.

During his troubled last years, even friends of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover would confide — sotto voce, to be sure — that “the Old Man” was past his prime and should leave office. The complaints were that decades of wielding autocratic power had stripped Hoover of sound judgment to the point where he felt he could do no wrong. Such was what I heard from two men who had held the rank of assistant director, and who admired Hoover's service to law enforcement.

Long despised by the left — the hostility went both ways, to be sure — Hoover gave his enemies the “smoking gun” they long sought when bold anti-war activists broke into an FBI office in the Philadelphia suburb of Media the night of March 8, 1971. They chose an evening when the nation’s attention was sure to be focused elsewhere — on a long-anticipated boxing match between Joe Frazier, a supporter of the Vietnam War, and Muhammad Ali, a convicted draft dodger.

Working with the skills of professional burglars, the activists stripped the office of every file in sight and hauled them off to a farm in upstate Pennsylvania for examination. Of the thousands of stolen documents, perhaps the most explosive was a 1970 memorandum directing agents to increase their interviews of antiwar activists and other dissident groups.

The key sentence read, “It will enhance the paranoia endemic in these circles and will further serve to get the point across there is an FBI agent behind every mailbox.”

... Yet Ms. Medsger skirts around an ugly underside to the “New Left” that caused Hoover's reaction, excessive though it might have been. Consider bombings, both of government buildings (including universities) and private businesses. In his 2011 book, “MH/CHAOS: The CIA’S Campaign Against the Radical New Left and the Black Panthers,” the veteran counterintelligence officer Frank Rafalko devoted 46 pages to listing 943 instances of bombing from January 1969 to July 1970, several of which killed innocent persons.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:

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