It is time to dismantle J. Edgar Hoover’s rotten FBI

by Samantha Flom

Op-ed by Samantha Flom

Impartiality is something that every American citizen has a right to expect from their government. 

It is a right so fundamental that it is woven throughout the Constitution – serving as the foundation for the due process clause, the right to trial by an impartial jury, and the equal protection clause – and ingrained in federal laws like Title VII.

Yet while equal treatment under the law is a stated goal of our justice system, historically, that has not always been the case – especially where the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been involved. 

And while the agency’s recent raid of President Donald Trump’s residence was shocking and unprecedented, given the FBI’s history, we should have seen it coming.

Formed in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation, the FBI has been politically targeting American citizens for generations, with its first director, J. Edgar Hoover, setting the tone.

The George Washington University graduate joined the Justice Department in 1917. Fittingly, that same year, Congress passed the Espionage Act, which Hoover would later use to punish suspected communists during the violent Palmer raids of the first Red Scare.

Hoover became director of the FBI in 1924 and held that position until his death in 1972 – a feat undoubtedly aided by his ability to surveil the nation’s most influential people and add their dirtiest secrets to his private collection of damaging information. 

Using methods of questionable legality, Hoover is believed to have surveilled politicians and prominent public figures like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Walt Disney, Jackie Robinson, and Helen Keller, while issuing a free pass to organized crime leaders. His unfettered power troubled many, including President Harry Truman.

“We want no Gestapo or secret police,” Truman once wrote, according to an article by biographer Anthony Summers. “FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail… Edgar Hoover would give his right eye to take over, and all congressmen and senators are afraid of him.”

While some were undoubtedly relieved when he did eventually make his exit, clearly, the spirit of J. Edgar Hoover lives on in Washington, D.C.

Notably, the term “Gestapo” has resurfaced in recent days as a descriptor for the modern FBI, with 53 percent of likely voters agreeing with political strategist Roger Stone that there is “a group of politicized thugs at the top of the FBI who are using the FBI … as Joe Biden’s personal Gestapo.”

And Stone would know, having been a target of the politically motivated Russian collusion investigation.

That investigation – now known to have been based on disinformation spread by operatives of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – also led to the wrongful targeting of other Trump operatives, like Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, in addition to the 45th president himself.

Further, as the New York Post reported, the FBI knew that there was no substance to the allegations of collusion but pushed forward anyway, subjecting the president and the country to two years of harmful lies.

It was also recently revealed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” that, during the 2020 election cycle, the FBI warned the social media giant about Russian propaganda to censor “election misinformation,” which resulted in the company limiting the visibility of the Hunter Biden laptop story before the election.

Commenting on the story, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson noted: “At the moment the FBI was warning Facebook about a propaganda dump that obviously would include Hunter Biden’s laptop, they had Hunter Biden’s laptop in their possession, so they knew perfectly well it was authentic.”

In short, the FBI engaged in election misinformation by attempting to smother a story that favored President Trump’s reelection chances.

Now, the agency has found a new way to target President Trump, and it is clear that those steering the ship will not be satisfied until he has been sunk once and for all.

But they underestimate the president if they think that is a battle they can win. And more importantly, they underestimate the American people if they think we will stand for this blatant anarchy any longer.

When the roots of a tree are rotten, the tree must be removed. Now, after more than a century of decay, it is high time we removed the rot at the root of our Justice Department by dismantling the FBI.

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