Tuesday, July 30, 2019

My Washington Times Review Of 'The Birth Of The FBI: Teddy Roosevelt, The Secret Service, And The Fight Over America's Premier Law Enforcement Agency'

The Washington Times published my review of The Birth of the FBI: Teddy Roosevelt, the Secret Service, and the fight over America’s Premier Law Enforcement Agency.  

Most people credit the birth of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to its first and longest-serving director, J. Edgar Hoover, but as Willard M. Oliver notes in his book, “The Birth of the FBI: Teddy Roosevelt, the Secret Service, and the Fight Over America’s Law Enforcement Agency,” it was actually President Theodore Roosevelt who created a federal law enforcement agency that would eventually morph into the FBI.

Roosevelt created the Special Agent Force in 1908 under the Department of Justice. The force later that year was renamed the Bureau of Investigation, the agency that preceded the FBI. J. Edgar Hoover became the third director of the Bureau of Investigation, which he remade into the FBI in 1935.

But as Mr. Oliver contends in “The Birth of the FBI,” it was President Roosevelt who should be credited with the birth of the FBI.

“The true birth of the FBI traces back to the presidential administration of Theodore Roosevelt, who created the Bureau of Investigation with the help of his attorney general, Charles Joseph Bonaparte. Although it could be said that the Bureau was created to respond to serious federal land fraud, the reality is that the FBI emerged from a political fight,” writes Mr. Oliver. “President Theodore Roosevelt, finding himself in a political row with Congress over the Secret Service, found a political solution to the problem by creating the Bureau of Investigation. So the true origins of the FBI have little to do with crime waves and criminal investigations but rather, are shrouded in the mystery of politics.”

Readers will no doubt note the resemblance between early-20th century political conflicts between the White House, Congress and the press, and today’s political clashes. Having covered the FBI for many years and having interviewed FBI senior leaders as well as street agents, including the legendary undercover FBI agent Joseph Pistone — better known as the name he assumed when he infiltrated the Bonanno Cosa Nostra crime family for six years in the late 1970s, Donnie Brasco — I was most interested in reading this well-researched, interesting and enlightening backdrop of the issues and political intrigue that surrounded the creation of the predecessor to the FBI.    

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


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