Kessler is the author of “The Secrets of the FBI.”
By Ronald KesslerNewsmax
Because of the terrorist threat, the FBI and CIA have become as important as the military in preserving our freedom. Yet while thanking our military is standard practice in American life, no one thinks of thanking the FBI, the CIA, or the rest of the intelligence community for keeping us safe since 9/11.
Instead, the media and many on the extreme left and extreme right demonize the men and women of those agencies for allegedly “spying on innocent Americans.”
Last year, two Washington Post reporters took two years to uncover this story: The intelligence community is big and secret and uses a lot of contractors. Presented as an exposé, the series, “Top Secret America,” found no abuse. Instead, it presented the conclusion that the intelligence community is a “hidden world” that is “growing beyond control.”
There has been an avalanche of opinions voiced by ex-FBI agents and current ones over the upcoming film “J Edgar” and his portrayal as being gay. Now, some Gay rights advocates are weighing in.
“I don’t know specifically why current officers object to the claim that Hoover was gay,” Jacob Appel, a New York-based lawyer that has written and advocated for gay and lesbian rights, told ticklethewire.com. “If their concern is solely for historical accuracy, and they don’t feel there is evidence to support that claim, then that’s certainly a reasonable position.”
“On the other hand, if these individuals actually believe that being gay would somehow tarnish Hoover’s image–and I sincerely hope that no one in the FBI holds such deeply misguided views today–then their positions would reflect the sort of bigotry and ignorance that have no place in civilized society,” said Appel.
Clint Eastwood is producing the film and Leonard DiCaprio is playing the legendary Hoover. The film, scheduled for general release on Nov. 11, reportedly portrays Hoover as having a romantic relationship with Clyde Tolson, his number two man in the bureau.
Some agents, and particularly some retired agents who still idolize Hoover, credit him with building a world-class law enforcement agency, and have expressed concern about his portrayal as being gay.
Many say there’s no evidence that Hoover was gay. Instead, they argue that he was married to the job and that he was essentially asexual.
“I find it interesting that Hollywood has no proof of Hoover being a homosexual, a story that was sparked by a discredited author,” former FBI official Anthony Riggio recently wrote in a column for ticklethewire.com. “Yet it tickled the media’s fancy and now the media can’t get over it, and every chance they get, they herald this unfounded suspicion.”
Then again, there are some FBI agents today who simply could care less.
Eastwood has caught some flack for the portrayal, but defends the film.
“It’s not a movie about two gay guys,” Eastwood told GQ. “It’s a movie about how this guy manipulated everybody around him and managed to stay on through nine presidents. I mean, I don’t give a crap if he was gay or not.”
DiCaprio says he’s not sure of Hoover’s sexual orientation.
“If I were a betting man, I actually don’t know what I would bet,” he told GQ.
Some gay rights advocates concerns are not just over the negative reactions from some FBI and former FBI agents, but of Hoover himself.
Rod Hearne, the Executive Director of the Seattle-based Equal Rights Washington, comments:
“In 2011 it’s hard to imagine that two such powerful, unmarried, near-constant companions as J Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson would be seen as anything but gay.
“If the FBI and J Edgar Hoover’s friends and associates resist the notion that the blackmailing, extorting, empire-building, racist, homophobic man was gay, fine, whatever they wish to think. The straights can have him.”
Author Ronald Kessler, who penned the book “The Secrets of the FBI”, wrote in an article on the website Newsmax: ”Hoover and Tolson, both bachelors, were inseparable. They ate lunch together every day and dinner together almost every night. They vacationed together, staying in adjoining rooms, and they took adoring photos of each other.”
The relationship with Tolson, he wrote, “points to Hoover’s being gay. Most telling, when Hoover’s will was probated, Tolson received his estate estimated at $560,000 … the equivalent of $2.9 million today. The bequest to Tolson was the final word on the closeness of their relationship and another indicator that Hoover was gay.” Kessler called the movie’s portrayal of their relationship a “legitimate dramatization.”
Appel, the New York lawyer, says if there is evidence that Hoover was gay, or for that matter, a cross dresser as some have suggested, it would be a matter of “public historical interest…especially in light of his fierce and nearly monomaniacal persecution of gays and lesbians throughout his career.”
Bit what is far more important, he said, is “to remember the shameful legacy that Mr. Hoover left this country with in regard to his persistent hounding of ethnic, sexual and ideological minorities … Mr. Hoover squandered tax-payer dollars in a bizarre and longstanding effort to expose the supposed (and extraordinarily unlikely) homosexuality of Adlai Stevenson, one of our nation’s great statesmen and patriots.”
Appel called Hoover a “divisive and destructive figure, whether or not he slept with Clyde Tolson.”
But not all the gay rights advocates have such pointed views.
Christian Berle, the Executive Director at Log Cabin Republicans, which works within the Republican party and advocates for gay and lesbian rights, was far more cautious in his statement to ticklethewire.com:
“Speculation as to J. Edgar Hoover’s sexuality has a long history, and it is natural that Clint Eastwood might want to explore that angle in this film. At the same time, it is understandable that members of the FBI and those who value his memory would be concerned that Hoover’s story be treated with respect and dignity. Whatever Hoover’s orientation may have been, the world today is a much different place than when he was at the helm of the FBI, and Americans can be proud that today’s FBI has a solid record of nondiscrimination.”
Most certainly the controversy over the movie’s portrayal of Hoover’s sexuality will help bolster tickets sales.
Nontheless, Warner Bros.. which is producing the film, is remaining equally tight-lipped about the portrayal.
“We respectfully decline to comment on the portrayal (of Hoover’s sexual orientation), “their online press spokeswoman Anne Chun told ticklethewire.com.
The film is scheduled for a limited release on Nov. 9 in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. The film opens nation-wide on Nov. 11.
Is New York Times best selling author Ronald Kessler a little paranoid or just a little more important in the eyes of the FBI than the average Joe?
Kessler, author of “The Secrets of the FBI”, tells Politico there’s “about a hundred percent chance that both his house and car are bugged.”
“When I was doing interviews at the FBI, my tape recorder battery died. They gave me a new one and I said, ‘of course, this is bugged?’” Like the rest of his electronic devices, it probably was, Politico reported.
Still, Kessler maintains, the FBI is not concerned with “average Joes,” but is rather “focused on real terrorists.”Kessler concedes in the interview with Politico of J. Edgar Hoover’s transgressions, but still maintains respect for the great things he did for the FBI.
Kessler showed some ambivalence towards the upcoming Clint Eastwood movie on Hoover, reported on ticklethewire on many occasions. The movie expected to suggest Hoover was carrying on a romantic affair with his right hand man Clyde Tolson.
Kessler says Hoover was not a crossdresser, but did have a “spousal relationship” with Clyde Tolson, whether that was sexual or not.
Just how much did the Russians value American turncoats Aldrich Ames and ex-FBI agent Robert Hanssen?
Well, according to a new book by Ronald Kessler, “The Secrets of the FBI”, the Russians tried swapping Hansen and Ames with the U.S. in a spy swap shortly after the FBI arrested 10 Russian spies in June 2010.
The book said CIA Director Leon Panetta called his counterpart, Mikhail Fradkov, the head of the Russian intel service (SVR), to propose a spy swap.
The two worked out a deal in the course of a week. However, the U.S. firmly rejected the idea of swapping Hanssen and Aldrich, the book reported.
FBI agent Hanssen, now 67, spied for Soviet and Russian intelligence services from 1979 to 2001. He is currently serving a life sentence at the Federal Bureau of Prisons Administrative Maximum facility in Florence, Colo.
Ames, 70, a former Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst, was convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia in 1994. He is currently serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Allenwood, Pa.
Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. Kessler has authored several books including “The Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI”.
By Ronald KesslerNewsmax.com
When it comes to the FBI, The New York Times has the same story line: The bureau is either incompetent, over-reactive, or spying on innocent Americans.
In most cases, the paper manages to convey those points by omitting key facts or downplaying them. For example, in revealing President Bush’s NSA intercept program, the paper used such trigger words as “eavesdropping” and “domestic spying” to suggest a massive program with sinister motives. Not until the 22nd paragraph did the story say that the intercept program targeted only calls with an overseas nexus.
But the Times reached a new low with a story this week by Shaila Dewan. Headlined “Despite FBI Fanfare, Time Runs Out on Cold Civil Rights Cases,” the story suggested that the FBI is not aggressively pursuing unsolved civil rights cases from years ago.
The story cited Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ declaration in February 2007 that the FBI had started the Cold Case Initiative to bring to justice the perpetrators of civil rights crimes. Since then, there have been no federal indictments, the paper said.
This book on the Secret Service is continuing to touch nerves inside and outside the agency. Some current and former Secret Service agents are disturbed that current and former agents disclosed secrets that should have remained secret. Here’s the latest review of Ronald Kessler’s new book: “IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect”
By James Bamford
The Washington Post Outlook Section
A few blocks from the White House, on the busy corner of H and 9th streets, stands a bland, unnamed, nine-story office building. On a wall in the lobby, large silver letters spell out the words “Worthy of Trust and Confidence.”
That is the motto of the Secret Service, and the anonymous tan-brick building is the agency’s headquarters. “The phrase,” said former director Lewis C. Merletti, “is the absolute heart and soul of the United States Secret Service. . . . And it must never be compromised.” Lest they forget, all agents have the motto emblazoned on their IDs.
But in light of an odd decision by the current director, Mark Sullivan, the motto should be changed to “Have You Heard This One?” During the Bush administration, hoping for some good, ego-enhancing publicity, Sullivan broke with his agency’s long-standing policy of absolute silence and allowed Ronald Kessler to get an earful.
The chief Washington correspondent for Newsmax.com, which bills itself as “the #1 conservative news agency online,” Kessler had written very positive books about CIA Director George Tenet, first lady Laura Bush and President George W. Bush, and Sullivan was probably hoping for the same treatment.
Ronald Kessler has written an interesting book on the Secret Service. Inside the agency, some people aren’t very happy about it and have expressed disappointment that some former agents have opened up and talked. The following is an excerpt of the book “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect” (Crown Publishing Group). It was printed in Newsmax Magazine.
By Ronald Kessler
All eyes in the crowd were on the new president and first lady as they smiled and waved and held hands, celebrating the moment. But the men and women who walked along Pennsylvania Avenue with them never looked at the couple, only into the crowd.
The temperature was twenty- eight degrees, but the Secret Service agents’ suit jackets were open, hands held free in front of the chest, just in case they had to reach for their SIG Sauer P229 pistols. On television as the motorcade proceeded, the world could sometimes catch a glimpse of a man’s silhouette on top of a building, a countersniper poised and watching. But that was just a hint of the massive security precautions that had been planned in secret for months.
The Secret Service scripted where Barack and Michelle Obama could step out of “the Beast,” as the presidential limousine is called. At those points, counterassault teams stood ready, armed with fully automatic Stoner SR- 16 rifles and flash bang grenades for diversionary tactics.
If they spotted any hint of a threat, the grim- faced agents never betrayed it. It is the same when they see what goes on behind the scenes. Because Secret Service agents are sworn to secrecy, voters rarely know what their presidents, vice presidents, presidential candidates, and Cabinet officers are really like. If they did, says a former Secret Service agent, “They would scream.”