FBI: The Origin Story & How It Became Exactly What Congress Feared It Would

Written by Andrew Linn on August 15, 2022

The FBI’s raid on Donald Trump’s estate at Mar-a-Lago has outraged many Americans, especially since Trump’s attorneys were willing to turn over any documents. It is also outrageous given the double standards of the federal authorities, e.g. Hunter Biden’s laptop, Hillary Clinton’s emails, and allegations of Russian collusion in the 2016 Presidential election.

But the biggest outrage is that the FBI is abusing its authority by means of political biases. Such action is something some people have feared since the FBI (or actually its original name the Bureau of Investigation) was created, as noted in Curt Gentry’s book J. Edgar Hoover: the Man and the Secrets.

Gentry mentions in his book that In 1907, Charles Bonaparte (grandnephew of Napoleon Bonaparte and United States Attorney at the time) had gone before Congress and requested the establishment of a small permanent detective force, on the grounds that the Justice Department did not have its own agents, thus having to borrow agents from the Secret Service, which in turn prevented
investigations from being kept confidential. But Congress rejected his proposal.

Bonaparte tried again the following year, in which members of Congress had the following concerns regarding his plan for such an agency:

  • Wouldn’t the detectives become a secret police force, carrying out the
    dictates of the presidency?
    Bonaparte replied that the detectives would not be used for political
    purposes.
  • What would prevent the detectives from snooping into the private lives of
    American citizens?
    Bonaparte responded by saying that his men would not resort to such
    methods.
  • What type of men would be employed in this detective force?
    Bonaparte answered that the men hired would be part of a trained,
    disciplined organization.
  • Since each agency started out small, what would prevent this detective
    force from becoming an organization that puts strains on the federal
    budget?
    Bonaparte stated that he would keep the bureau small.
  • What controls would there be over such a bureau?
    Bonaparte said that the bureau would be transparent with the Attorney
    General and with Congress.
  • One Congressman said he could see the day when the bureau would hide
    things from Congress.
    Bonaparte believed it would be unlikely that the bureau would do such a
    thing.

Another Congressman pointed out that no government perished due to not having such an organization, but that many did perish due to such an organization.

Despite the concerns, Congress approved Bonaparte’s request. One year later, it became known as the Bureau of Investigation (BI), and in 1935 was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), especially after one individual told J. Edgar Hoover that FBI also stood for fidelity, bravery, and integrity.

The bureau started off by investigating crimes such as antitrust, neutrality violations, crimes committed on Indian reservations, and the interstate shipment of stolen goods. Eventually, its responsibilities would expand.

Hoover brought efficiency to FBI, and cracked on subversives (particularly communists). But at the same time he put together a series of files on Justice Department officials and various prominent Americans. Such files eventually became a curse, because he believed they were the source of his power, even to the point where he realized he couldn’t retire because his successor could not be trusted to keep them.

Hoover despised individuals such as the Kennedys, Martin Luther King Jr. (whom he once sent a note to suggesting that he commit suicide), and Harry S. Truman. Thus, he acted both honorably and frighteningly to lead the country in the direction in which he believed it should move.

As my father once said of Hoover: “he was good but he was ruthless.”

And so it seems with the FBI today- carrying out the dictates of the White House, treating dissident Americans as threats to national security, and even being incompetent at times.

Andrew Linn
Andrew Linn is a member of the Owensboro Tea Party and a former Field Representative for the Media Research Center. An ex-Democrat, he became a Republican one week after the 2008 Presidential Election. He has an M.A. in history from the University of Louisville, where he became a member of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. He has also contributed to examiner.com and Right Impulse Media.