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FBI: Between Power and Mystery

The service in charge of the U.S. domestic intelligence and security has only gone through two director firings
Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Víctor Sancho / Corresponsal
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Throughout its 82 years of history, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) has had only 7 directors. In 1935 changed to its current name and that honor belongs to a man: John Edgar Hoover, director for 48 years (1924-1972). In the following 3 decades there have only been 6 more directors: the last one, James Comey, has just been dismissed.

Hoover transformed the bureau: not only did he bestowed its federal character, but also made it the investigation force it is now. In 1949, he created the “most wanted fugitives list” and the counterintelligence division, he chased gangsters in the 1930's, as well as communists during Cold War's most tense period.

After Hoover, and subsequent to the Watergate scandal, it was decided that the F.B.I. director should best be elected every 10 years, in order to protect him from political influence. However, being a position designated by the White House and under the Justice Department's command, factional influences are always present.

Until last week, only Bill Clinton had fired an F.B.I. director, William Sessions, in 1993 due to ethical and corruption accusations.

Bonnie and Clyde, Al Capone, John F. Kennedy's assassination, Ku Klux Klan persecution, the Unabomber, Watergate, the Alcatraz escape, 9/11… Every relevant U.S. criminal case has gone through the hands of the F.B.I. Right now its priorities are the prevention of terrorist attacks, possible espionage, and cyber-attacks.

The aura of mystery that surrounds the F.B.I. causes myths and legends to appear around the agency. Many are the theories which relate the F.B.I. with the covering of what actually occurred in important cases. For example, allegations about Marilyn Monroe being killed by an F.B.I. agent in order to press President John F. Kennedy; or the concealment of the death of Kennedy himself; or the belief that the F.B.I. has registered contacts with aliens or U.F.O. sightings.

None of the lucubrations has ever been proven.


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