10 things you never knew about the FBI (10 items)
The Federal Bureau of Investigation turns 106 this July. In honor of the anniversary of this American institution, whose mission statement is to "help protect you, your children, your communities, and your businesses from the most dangerous threats facing our nation," we have compiled a list of ten little-known facts about the FBI.
Unless otherwise specified, all information comes from the FBI website.
1 of 10. Beginnings
As Attorney General, Bonaparte was faced with the frustration of not having any investigators or agents who answered specifically to his position. Instead, he was forced to hire Secret Servicemen, who were expensive and technically worked for the head of Secret Service, not Bonaparte. Bonaparte felt his hands were tied when it came to combatting crime, especially after Congress banned the loan of Secret Service agents.
At this point, Bonaparte discreetly hired a handful of the agents he had borrowed previously along with an additional group of his own choosing. This, according to the FBI website, was all done with Roosevelt's blessing, and the FBI was born.
2 of 10. Limited terms
Hoover, one of the FBI's most prominent directors, served for 48 years. While he was considered an American hero for most of that time, according to the post, after his death the extent to which he abused his power was revealed. The Post describes his transgressions as including "covert black-bag jobs, warrantless surveillance of civil rights leaders and Vietnam-era peace activists, use of secret files to bully government officials, snooping on movie stars and senators, and the rest."
Upon his death, president Nixon mandated that FBI directors can serve a maximum of ten years. For many, Hoover's legacy became a cautionary tale about the abuse of power.
3 of 10. Serious Investigations
"Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen was a popular song in the early 1960s, but its difficult to understand lyrics led some listeners to believe the song contained hidden pornographic messages. The FBI was called to investigate, and they took the job seriously.
From February to May of 1964, the FBI searched the song for any sign of lewd material or evidence that the song broke the law against interstate transportation of obscene material. They found no evidence of obscenity.
The Kingsmen weren't the only pop figures who the FBI investigated; the bureau also has files on Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway, among others.
4 of 10. The art of ESP
The bureau has 40 documented pages on this supernatural form of mind reading, apparently put on the topic when a man called Mr. Foos put on an ESP, or extrasensory perception, demonstration for FBI agents sent to investigate its legitimacy.
One of the agents described witnessing a "rather amazing performance of reading while blindfolded," but ultimately the agency concluded that while mind reading would be a useful skill, there was not enough scientific evidence to support it. The investigation into ESP was abandoned.
5 of 10. Hoover's secret files
The Post writes that Hoover had positive relationships with presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, and Kennedy all considered firing him but the primary reason that Hoover kept his job was because it was politically beneficial for the presidents, not because of any dirt he had on them, the Post reports.
However, it was Hoover who discovered one of President Kennedy's extramarital affairs through a wiretap, and presidents aside, Hoover did use his power to destroy political opponents and ruin lives. His tactics included spreading "unconfirmed gossip about private sex lives and radical ties" among other things, according to the Post.