Fbi Essay, Research Paper
Origins and Progressions of the FBI
In 1908 a group of Special Agents started the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the large contribution of Attorney General Charles Bonaparte during the Presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. Bonaparte and Roosevelt had first met when they both spoke at a meeting of the Baltimore Civil Service Reform Association. Roosevelt, at the time was the Civil Service Commissioner, boasted of his reforms in federal law enforcement (Kessler 5). It was 1892, and this was a time when law enforcement was often much more political rather than professional. Roosevelt was very persistent of his wanting that Border Patrol applicants must pass marksmanship tests, with the most accurate individuals getting the jobs. Even in the late 1890 s and early 1900 s physical test taking was still a very effective and often
used method in selecting the best men for jobs. In this case the best marksmen were selected. Following Roosevelt on the program, Bonaparte countered and questioned Roosevelt s choice of selection, that target shooting was not the way to get the best men. “Roosevelt should have had the men shoot at each other, and given the jobs to the survivors. Roosevelt and Bonaparte both were “Progressives.” The two men shared the same conviction that efficiency and expertise, not political connections, should determine who could best serve in government (Douglass 23). Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States in 1901; four years later, he appointed Charles Bonaparte to be his Attorney General. In 1908, Bonaparte applied their Progressive philosophy to the Department of Justice by creating a corps of Special Agents. It had neither a name nor an officially designated leader other than the Attorney General. Yet, these former detectives and Secret Service men were the first forerunners of the FBI.
Today, most Americans take for granted that our country needs a good effective federal investigative service which looks out for the common good, but in 1908, the establishment of this kind of agency at a national
level was highly disputed and extremely controversial. The U.S. Constitution is based on “federalism”: a national
government with power and control over matters that crossed boundaries, like interstate commerce and foreign affairs, with all other powers reserved to the individual states. Through the 1800 s, Americans usually looked to cities, counties, and states to fulfill most government responsibilities. But, by the 20th century, easier transportation and communications had made an atmosphere of opinion more favorable to the federal government establishing a strong investigative agency which would help the people and the government. The feeling among the American people toward an open federal government, along with an impractical, reformist spirit, essentially showed what is known as the Progressive Era, from approximately 1900 to 1918 (McCarthy 37). The Progressive generation believed that government intervention was needed to produce justice in an industrial society. Also, it looked to “experts” in all different aspects of industry and government to produce that just and well running society.
President Roosevelt truly personified Progressivism at the national level. A federal investigative force made up
of well-disciplined experts qualified in most areas of law enforcement were then established to fight corruption and crime. This force fit President Roosevelt’s Progressive
design of government. Attorney General Bonaparte shared the President’s Progressive philosophy. However, the Department
of Justice under Charles Bonaparte had no investigators of its own besides for a few Special Agents who carried out specific assignments not dealing with serious issues as now needed. Even then they were only for the Attorney General. They also had a force of Examiners (trained as accountants) who reviewed the financial transactions of the federal courts. Since its formation in 1870, the Department of Justice had used funds set aside to investigate federal crimes and to hire private detectives first, and later investigators from other federal agencies. (Federal crimes are those which are considered interstate or occurred on federal government reservations.) By 1907, the Department of Justice most of then called upon Secret Service “operatives” to conduct investigations. These men were very well-trained, dedicated and extremely expensive. Moreover, they reported not to the Attorney General, but to the Chief of the Secret Service. This situation really upset Charles Bonaparte, who really wanted complete control of
investigations under his power. Therefor Congress provided the impetus for Bonaparte to acquire his own forces (Kessler 75). On May 27, 1908, it decided to make a law preventing the Department of Justice from using Secret Service operatives.
The following month, Attorney General Bonaparte selected a force of Special Agents within the Department of Justice. He used ten former Secret Service employees and a number of Department of Justice, employees. Along with the investigators they all became Special Agents of the Department of Justice. On July 26, 1908, Bonaparte had ordered them to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch. This particular action is considered as the beginning of the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Both Attorney General Bonaparte and President Theodore Roosevelt, who completed their terms in March 1909, made strong recommendations that the force of 34 Agents become a permanent part of the Department of Justice. Attorney General George Wickersham, Bonaparte’s successor, named the force the Bureau of Investigation on March 16, 1909. At that time, the title of Chief Examiner was changed to Chief of the Bureau of Investigation (Douglass 81). During a
time when crime was starting to rise and criminals were getting away a new crime organization was needed. When the Bureau of Investigations was first started Theodore Roosevelt was President and it began operations in the year of 1908. It was also a time when: Henry Ford launched the Model T, Orville Wright was hired by the U.S. Government to make military planes for the army. Billy Murray hit the music scene with “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” a major influenza widespread right through the U.S. killing more than 20 million people. In the Olympic scene figure skating had made it to the rank of sports featured at the Winter Olympics, and the Oldsmobile Model 37 family car sold for a super price of $1,185. The Bureau of Investigation (BOI) began operations with nine Special Agents (all who were former Secret Service employees), 13. Peonage investigators, and 12 Examiners (McCarthy 51). At first, the BOI was just responsible for investigating around 25 different kinds of crime: antitrust, interstate train robberies, copyright violations, land fraud, neutrality violations, peonage, crimes on the high seas, forgery, and crimes on the U.S. government (Kessler 97). The first major expansion of the BOI’s jurisdiction came in June 1910 when the Mann (”White Slave”) Act was passed it
provided a way by which the federal government could investigate criminals who got away from state laws but had no other federal violations. The BOI s power and jurisdiction was once again increased in 1917 and 1918 (after World War I broke out) with the passage of the Espionage Act, the Selective Service Act, and the Deportation Statute. Finally, in October 1919, Congress
passes the Motor Vehicle Theft Act, yet another way to prosecute criminals who got away from the law by crossing state lines. Because of its constantly increasing
investigative responsibilities, the BOI grew tremendously during this time frame and by the end of the decade, the BOI employed more than 200 Special Agents and over 250 support personnel (McCarthy 74). At the beginning of the decade, the Bureau of Investigation had already established field offices in nine United States cities. By 1924, at the time J. Edgar Hoover (who is probably the most recognized name in the FBI family) was named Director, the Bureau of Investigation had approximately 650 employees, including 441 Special Agents. Towards the end of the decade, there were 30-some field offices shortly after Hoover took over, he fired Special Agents he considered unqualified and began to professionalize the organization
(Douglass 61). He abolished the seniority rule of promotion and introduced uniform performance appraisals. Hoover had began regular inspections of Headquarters and field offices. He also made new requirements that the new Agents had to be between 25 and 35 years old. He established a formal training course for Agents. He made it very clear he preferred Special Agents with law or accounting experience. Essentially Hoover had raised standards and solidified the agency more than ever before. Even though Prohibition violations fell under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department, the Bureau had some pretty limited success using its narrow
ability and jurisdiction to investigate some of the gangsters of that period. The Bureau of Investigation also had some success against the KKK, The Ku Klux Klan which had been dormant since the late 1800 s, was revived in part to counteract the economic gains made by African Americans during World War I (Harrison 63). The Bureau of Investigation used the Mann Act to bring Louisiana’s philandering KKK “Imperial Kleagle” to justice. During the 1930 s The Bureau’s jurisdiction grew marginally. The first large event of the 1930 s was the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby in 1932. The kidnapping forced Congress to
passed the federal kidnapping statute. Next, during 1934, Congress passes a series of federal crime bills that gave the Bureau even more additional responsibilities in such areas as stolen property, extortion, racketeering, killing or assaulting federal officers, bank robberies, and fleeing from one state to another to avoid prosecution (Theoharis 101). In the wake of the dreadful 1933 Kansas City Massacre, Congress also gave the Bureau Special Agents the right to carry firearms (Wiener 89). In 1939 right before the United States coming into World War II President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an order stating that the Division of Investigation (as it was called then) would investigate all espionage, counterespionage, and sabotage matters, along with the intelligence divisions of the War
Department and the United States Navy. As the 1930 s slowly came to an end the Division of Investigation had now field offices in 42 different cities, and employed 658 Special Agents along with 1,141 support personnel (McCarthy 109). With the aftermath of the 1930 s came the 1940 s. During the 1940s and World War II, the FBI spent a great deal of its time working war-related investigations into activities of subversion sabotage, and espionage. On Dec. 7th 1941, Japan bombs Pearl Harbor. After that President Franklin D.
Roosevelt issued an emergency announcement and the Attorney General authorized the Bureau to act against any dangerous enemy aliens, J. Edgar Hoover immediately ordered that existing war plans be readied. On April 1945, President Roosevelt dies, and Vice President Harry Truman takes over the office as President. Before the end of the month, Hitler commits suicide and the German commander in Italy finally surrenders. Although the May 1945 surrender of Germany ended the war in Europe, the war continued in the Pacific until August 14, 1945. The world that the FBI faced in September 1945 was extremely different from the
world of 1939 when the war began. American isolationism had effectively ended, and economically, the United States
had become the world’s most powerful nation. Back at home, in the U.S. organized labor had achieved a strong foothold. The Bureau even increased its Special Agent work force with National Academy graduates for a while during that time, the number of Bureau “employees” rose from 7,400 to a whopping 13,000, including 4,000 Special Agents (McCarthy 111). A Presidential Directive created the FBI’s Special Investigative Service (SIS)(forerunner of the Legal Attache Program) in 1940 (Quenton 39). The SIS was created to provide information on Axis activities in South America and
to destroy its intelligence and propaganda networks. By the time the 1940 s ended the Bureau had expanded to 51 field offices and four Legal Attache Offices overseas in Ottawa, London, Madrid, and Paris. The temporary Bureau “employees” returned to their own agencies, and the FBI rolls dropped back a bit to 3,741 Special Agents and 5,559 support personnel (McCarthy 116). As the dreadful 1940 s ended the new and innovative 1950 s came. As it did for most of the 1950s, the FBI’s Fiscal Year 58, had in its Annual Report to the Attorney General cited that the Communist Party, along with the USA, as “the foremost domestic threats to
our democracy (Harrison 88). The Bureau’s work also showed up in the arrest of numerous alleged spies and Smith Act
violators, and as well in the uncovering of communist front organizations. At the beginning of the 1950s, J. Edgar Hoover had strongly showed his opposition to further expansion of federal criminal jurisdiction in a speech, saying he believed state and local law enforcement were already well-equipped to handle most crime problems. Congress, however had much different ideas; during the decade, FBI jurisdiction was expanded in several areas, such as kidnappings, interstate transportation of stolen property, labor racketeering, gambling, and bank robberies.
The bank robbery which widespread during the 1950s was so bad that the FBI had sponsored more than 100 regional bank robbery conferences for the state and local law enforcement along with banking representatives (Findley 41). By the end of this decade, the FBI had once again expanded. It had 53 field offices, ten Legal Attaches, 5,977 Special Agents, and 7,217 support personnel (McCarthy 128). Following the 1950 s the 1960 s were a decade of large and tremendous jurisdictional growth for the FBI. A brief look on legislation passed during the 1960 s: the Civil Rights Acts
of 1960 and 1964; three separate pieces of legislation in 1961 aimed at the tremendous gambling activities of
organized crime groups. The 1961 Crimes Aboard Aircraft Act and the expanded Federal Fugitive Act. Also a national tragedy gave yet another expansion to the FBI jurisdiction. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, the crime was considered a local homicide; and no federal law addressed the murder of a President. Regardless, President Lyndon B. Johnson had ordered the Bureau with conducting the investigation. Congress then passed a new law to would forever ensure that any such act in the future would be considered a federal crime (Porter 54). It was the 1965 statute, which made the assassination of a President a
federal offense. Also during this decade the 1968 Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act were established. These Acts gave law enforcement the authority to use court-ordered electronic surveillance in investigating certain specified violations (Quenton 93). The 1960 s were also once again a decade of personnel growth for the FBI. By the end of the time period, the Bureau had grown to 6,703 Special Agents and to 9,320 support personnel the largest amount now to date (McCarthy 145). There were also now 58 new field offices and 12 Legal Attaches. This upgrade was looked upon as very progressive and it made the bureau the top crime agency in the country.
The 1970 s brought a new perspective on jobs and opportunities in the U.S. The disco 1970 s opened with new legislation that would, in time, have a tremendous impact
on organized crime groups in the United States the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute (Hamilton 175). Also additional responsibilities were given to the Bureau during the 70s which included a 1971 Presidential directive which gave the FBI permission to become involved in local police killings (when requested), and also jurisdiction under the 1977 Federal
Corrupt Practices Act (Gainer 203). A said day in the history of the FBI was when long time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972, just shy of an incredible 48 years as the FBI Director. He was 77 years old. The following day his body was laid in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol, an honor, which was, bestowed to only 21 other Americans. Hoover’s successor would have to contend with the multiple confusion of that troubled time. In 1972, unlike 1924 when Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone selected Hoover, the President appointed the FBI Director with confirmation from the U.S. Senate. President Nixon had appointed L. Patrick Gray as Acting Director the day after Hoover’s death. After retiring from a distinguished Naval career, Patrick Gray had continued in public service as the Department of Justice’s Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. As the Acting Director, Gray had appointed the first women as a Special Agent since the 1920s. Not long after Gray became Acting Director, five men were arrested photographing documents at the Democratic National Headquarters in the Watergate Office Building in Washington, D.C. The break-in had been authorized by Republican Party officials. Within hours, the White House began its effort to cover up its role, and the new Acting
FBI Director was accidentally drawn into it. FBI Agents undertook a thorough investigation of the break-in and related events. However, when Gray’s questionable personal position was revealed, he withdrew his name from the Senate’s consideration to be the Director. He was replaced hours after he resigned on April 27, 1973, by William Ruckleshaus, a former Congressman and the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who remained Director until Clarence Kelley’s appointment as Director on July 9, 1973. Kelley, who was Kansas City Police Chief when he received the appointment, had been an FBI Agent from 1940 to 1961 (Connelly 132). Another area of investigative concern was bombings committed by violent extremist groups like the Weathermen, FALN, the JDL, and the Black Panthers. New FBI Director Clarence Kelley changed and enforced a number of policy changes during his five years of service. These changes concentrated on the training and selection of FBI and law enforcement leaders, the procedures of investigative intelligence collection, and the prioritizing of criminal programs (the “quality vs. quantity” concept (Sheppard 186). The men that were to be selected had to be the top of the line individuals, with great credentials. Once again during this decade, the number of FBI employees
grew yet again. By 1978, the number had risen to nearly 8,000 Special Agents and well over 11,000 support
personnel. The Bureau had 59 field offices, and 13 Legal Attaches (McCarthy 167). As the 1980 s began The FBI solved so many espionage cases that the press dubbed 1985 “The year of the spy” spies like Thomas Cavanaugh, Jonathan Pollard, Larry Wu Tai Chin, Randy Miles Jeffries, Bruce Ott, Allan Davies, William Pelton, and the Walkers. Perhaps as a result of the Bureau’s emphasis on combatting terrorism, such acts within the United States decreased dramatically during the 1980 s (Kessler 123). In 1986, Congress had expanded FBI jurisdiction not only to cover terrorist acts against the U.S., but also against U.S. citizens outside the U.S. boundaries.
With New legislation passed during the decade, as well as special authorities granted by the Attorney General, expanded the Bureau jurisdiction yet again in several areas. In the year 1982, the Attorney General William French Smith gave the FBI simultaneous jurisdiction with the Drug Enforcement Agency over federal drug laws (Sheppard 191). The Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 and the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Anti-Terrorism
Act of 1986 gave the Bureau extraterritorial jurisdiction when Americans are victimized abroad by terrorists
(Douglass 90). The FBI also received jurisdiction under the 1984 Product Tampering Act, and the 1989 Financial Institution Reform, Recovery, and Enhancement Act. It gave the agency more resources to investigate fraud during the
“savings and loan crisis.” As the jurisdiction grew, so did the Bureau’s workforce. On May 26, 1987, Judge Webster left the FBI to become Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Then the Executive Assistant Director John E. Otto
became Acting Director and served in that position until November 2, 1987. During that tenure, Acting Director Otto designated drug investigations as the FBI’s fifth national priority. On November 2, 1987, former federal Judge William Steele Sessions was sworn in as FBI Director. Prior to his appointment as FBI Director, Sessions served as the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. He had previously served as a District Judge and as U.S. Attorney for that district. Under Director Sessions, crime prevention efforts, in place since Director Kelley’s tenure, were expanded to include a drug demand reduction program. FBI offices nationwide began working closely with local school and civic groups to
educate young people to the dangers of drugs. Subsequent nationwide community outreach efforts under that program
evolved and expanded through such initiatives as the Adopt-A-School/Junior G-Man Program (Carter 181). By 1988, the FBI employed nearly 10,000 Special Agents and 13,651 support personnel. There were 58 field offices, and 15 Legal Attaches (McCarthy 172). As the 1990 s rolled around Louis J. Freeh was sworn in as the new Director of the FBI on September 1, 1993. Freeh came to the Bureau with great credentials and unusual insight into the Bureau. He had
served as an FBI Agent from 1975 to 1981 in the New York City Field Office and at FBI Headquarters before leaving to join the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Here Freeh rose up in rank rather quickly and prosecuted many major FBI cases, including the notorious “Pizza Connection” case and the “VANPAC” mail bomb case. He was appointed a U.S. District Court Judge for the Southern District of New York in 1991. On July 20, 1993, President Clinton nominated him to be the new FBI Director. Freeh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 6, 1993 (Honnel 57). Six weeks after taking office, Freeh announced a major reorganization to streamline Headquarters operations of the bureau. He eliminated many of the management positions.
Freeh also had certain Selected divisions and offices merged, reorganized, or abolished. Soon after, Freeh
ordered the transfer of 600 Special Agents serving in administrative positions to investigative positions in field offices. To satisfy an aging Agent work force, Freeh gained approval to end a 2-year hiring block on new Agents. Freeh also made changes which affected current FBI employee policies and standards of conduct. These new changes not only strengthened the FBI’s traditionally high requirements for personal conduct and ethics, but also established a
“bright line” between what would be acceptable and what would not (Honnel 65). In continuation of the FBI’s commitment to the advancement of minorities and women within the ranks of the organization, in October, 1993, Freeh had appointed the first ever woman, the first man of Hispanic descent, and the second man of the African-American descent to be named Assistant Director all of which made headlines in the in the ranks of the bureau .
Along with a new director in the 1990 s, old troubles reared their heads with the International terrorism coming to United States shores. And during the 1990s many terrorist cases happened as well the awful (World
Trade Center bombing) in New York. Terrorism from within also showed up in the United States with the unbelievable
(Oklahoma City bombing). One of the if not the worst acts of terrorism in the history of the United States. In response, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996, which gave the Bureau additional resources to “meet the increased demands for activities of terrorism.” Several Presidential Decision Directives issued during the latter part of the decade clearly outlined the FBI’s leadership role in countering acts of
terrorism. Other crimes that caused Congress to expand the FBI responsibilities during the 1990s included economic espionage, (the Economic Espionage Act of 1996); health
care fraud (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). As well as abortion clinic violence (the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994); and interstate stalking and spousal abuse (part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994) (Kessler 87). Despite a lack of hiring during the early part of the decade, the number of Special Agents employed by the Bureau in the latter part of the 1990 s still managed to rise to 11,453 by July 1998 (McCarthy 192). The support personnel of the bureau ranks also increased. It
rose to 16,498. While the number of field offices remains at a constant rate of 56, the number of Legal Attaches in
response to the ever-increasing threat of international crime-jumped to 32 during the last 10 years.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations is an absolute necessity in the United States. It not only deals with large government crimes but also with the smaller local crimes with involve the normal everyday individuals such as you and I. As a United States citizen I for one am indeed
grateful for this organization because even through the often bad portrayal by the news and media I have had a
chance to get an in-depth look at the operations and services that the FBI does provide. The FBI without question is an organization that will be around for quite a while and it will serve the people to its fullest potential.
Work Cited Page
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Findley, Paul. The Fuhrer’s Reserve: A Novel of the FBI. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, April 2000.
Gainer, Peter. FBI Secrets: An agents expose. Minneapolis, MN: St Martin s Press Inc, December 1998.
Hamilton, Jeffreys. The Bureau: Inside the Modern FBI. Los Angeles, CA: Replica Books, May 1999.
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Independent Study (SOC.)