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Tag: history

New Documentary MLK/FBI Explores Surveillance of Civil Rights Icon

MLK/FBI movie poster.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new documentary explores the FBI’s relentless surveillance and harassment of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

The Sam Pollard documentary relies on recently declassified files, interviews and archival imagery of the civil rights movement.

“We felt it was important to really look at how King was looked at from the perspective of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, that they considered him a very dangerous man,” Pollard tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They were going at him by any means necessary to destroy him. At the same time, we wanted to convey King’s trajectory as we see the FBI is really digging into him, wiretapping, bugging his hotel rooms, and finding out that he was not a monogamous man.”

Pollard, who is known for editing Spike Lee films, said he sees a parallel between the civil rights movement a half century ago and the Black Lives Matter movement today.

The documentary will make its world premiere at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival.

House Democrats Introduce Bill to Remove J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from FBI Headquarters, Calling Him a Bigot

Hoover receives the National Security Medal from President Dwight Eisenhower on May 27, 1955, as then-Vice President Richard Nixon and others look on. (FBI photo)

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Democrats in the U.S. House are trying to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from the FBI headquarters building, calling the bureau’s former director a bigot who violated the civil rights of black leaders and political rivals.

Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-VA, Steve Cohen, D-TN, Dina Titus D-NV, and Karen Bass, D-CA, introduced legislation last week to remove any reference to Hoover from the building in Washington D.C.

“It’s long past time to rename the FBI Headquarters. J. Edgar Hoover was a racist, a bigot, and a homophobe,” Rep. Connolly says in a news release. “He abused his power and trampled the civil liberties of Dr. King, anti-war protesters, his political rivals, and too many others. He is no role model for any time, and certainly not this one. Congress must right this wrong and rename this building.”

The National Commission on Renaming the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters Building ACT of 2020 would create a nine-member commission to recommend a new name that reflects diversity, as well as the values of the FBI and U.S. Constitution. The members would be appointed by the president, the Senate majority and minority leaders, the speaker of the House and the House minority leader.

“As our nation faces a historical reckoning, we have an opportunity to right our wrongs and honor Americans who represent the democratic principles on which our union was founded,” Bass says. “J. Edgar Hoover used COINTELPRO to thwart the efforts of Black activists calling for equality in America. The program was ultimately designed to surveil, defame, and silence civil rights leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. Much worse, Hoover’s own racist views impacted FBI operations and countless racially-motivated hate crimes were left unchecked under his leadership. Identifying a namesake that reflects the true values of the FBI is worth supporting now more than ever.”

A similar bill was introduced in the U.S. House in 2015 but languished.

Cohen says it is past time to remove his name from this place of honor.”

“The civil rights we enjoy today are in spite of J. Edgar Hoover, not because of him,” Cohen says. “Yet, his name adorns one of the most prominent buildings on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital and one that houses an agency of government responsible for assuring justice.”

Ted Cruz Jokes That He’s the Notorious Skyjacker D.B. Cooper. But Why?

FBI sketches of D.B. Cooper.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz jokingly confessed that he is the notorious skyjacker D.B. Cooper.

“I did it,” Cruz said, retweeting a post from the FBI on Sunday that read, “#OTD in 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper parachuted from a plane he had just hijacked, clutching a bag filled with stolen cash. Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? What happened to the stolen money? Read about this unsolved mystery.”

But why would the conservative Texas senator crack the joke?

For at least a year, people on Twitter have suggested Cruz bears a striking resemblance to FBI sketches of D.B. Cooper. Around the same time, Twitter users jokingly suggested Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.

In case you don’t know about Cooper, he boarded a plane in Portland, Ore., and claimed to have a bomb and had the plane fly to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where he got the ransom money. He subsequently parachuted from the plane and was never found.

Here’s what Cruz looks like. You be the judge.

Sen. Ted Cruz

Debates Rage on over Removing J. Edgar Hoover’s Name from New Headquarters

Current FBI headquarters, via FBI

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Plans to build a new FBI headquarters have been in limbo under President Trump, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers and others from debating whether to remove J. Edgar Hoover’s name from a new building.

The Washington Times talked to lawmakers and former FBI officials to get their take. Some lawmakers scoff at the legacy of Hoover, the bureau’s first and longest-serving director. They say he discriminated against gay workers and squashed the civil liberties of black protesters, citing his obsession with Martin Luther King Jr.

“J. Edgar Hoover was an abomination on our history,” said Rep. Karen Bass, California Democrat and chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I think they should find a name more reputable than J. Edgar Hoover. I mean, all that came out about him after his death: the way he threatened people, what he did in the African American community, what he did to Martin Luther King, what he did to the LGBT community, I could go on and on.”

Former agents say he was a crime-busting and national security hero and transformed the FBI into an effective, modernized federal agency.

“As a former agent, I am disappointed in the FBI for not doing more to defend Mr. Hoover’s legacy,” said William D. Brannon, a 30-year FBI veteran and chairman of the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Hoover’s legacy with scholarships to underprivileged college students.

“He really is the father of modern law enforcement,” said John F. McCaffrey, director of the J. Edgar Hoover Institute and a former agent. “We need to recognize that. He did things like establish an identification division, he brought science to law enforcement. He may have had his shortcomings, but his accomplishments were tremendous, and we want to see him recognized.”

One Congressional Black Caucus member, Rep. Val Butler Demings, D-Fla., said agents should be able to decide the name of the new headquarters.

“I think it’s really important to understand how the men and women of the bureau feel about the first FBI director,” she said. “I think it’s really important to listen to them.”

But first, the federal government has to decide on a plan for a new headquarters. The current one is decrepit, can’t accommodate a lot of new technology and constitutes security concerns.

Until Trump came along, federal officials had narrowed down the locations for a new headquarters to Maryland and Virginia. Congress had even security a third of the funding.

But six months into his administration, Trump officials abandoned the previous plans, and the project has been in limbo since.

Permit Approved to Exhume John Dillinger’s Body from Indianapolis Cemetery

Gangster John Dillinger, via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The nephew of notorious American gangster John Dillinger has received permission to exhume the body of his uncle in an Indianapolis cemetery on New Year’s Eve.

The nephew, Michael Thompson, he has evidence that his bank robbing uncle was not shot by the FBI at a theater in Chicago in 1934 and that his body is not buried under the headstone at Crown Hill Cemetery

The family plans to conduct DNA tests of the body.

The exhumation permit was approved last week by the Indiana Department of Health, Fox-59 reports.

Cemetery officials have opposed the exhumation.

Dillinger was considered “Public Enemy No. 1” by the FBI after his gang killed at least 10 people, robbed banks and even staged three jailbreaks from 1933 to 1934.

Two months ago, the FBI disputed claims that the FBI killed another man who was not Dillinger.

“A wealth of information supports Dillinger’s demise including 3 sets of fingerprints, all positively matched,” the FBI tweeted on Aug. 1.

Author of New FBI Book Argues J. Edgar Hoover Was Not the Father of the Bureau

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A new book, “The Birth of the FBI: Teddy Roosevelt, the Secret Services, and the Fight Over America’s Law Enforcement Agency,” argues the FBI was not created by its first director, J. Edgar Hoover, as many people claim.

The origin of the FBI is traced back to 1908, when President Theodore Roosevelt created the Special Agent Force under the Justice Department. Later that year, the agency was renamed the Bureau of investigation.

By 1935, when the FBI was created, Hoover was the third director of the Bureau of Investigation.

Author Willard M. Oliver, a professor for the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State, argues Roosevelt should be credited with creating the FBI because of the agencies that preceded it.

FBI Releases Documents Related to 1976 Bigfoot Investigation

FBI scan of hair provided by Peter Byrne.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI revealed that it investigated the possible existence of Bigfoot in the 1970s, releasing 22 public documents.

The investigation began after Peter Byrne, director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition, gave the FBI mysterious hairs and tissue to analyze.

In a letter to the bureau, Byrne wrote, “Please understand that our research here is serious. That this is a serious question that needs answering.”

In the mid-1970s, FBI Assistant Director Jay Cochran Jr. agreed to make an exception and “examine the hairs and tissues” received by Byrne.

Cochran wrote that the FBI analyzed the samples “by transmitted and incident light microscopy,” an examination that included “a study of morphological characteristics such as root structure, medullary structure and cuticle thickness in addition to scale casts.”

The FBI, after analyzing 15 hair and tissue samples, concluded that the mysterious animal turned out to be “of deer family origin.”

The FBI closed the investigation in 1977.

That Time the FBI Urged Martin Luther King Jr. to Kill Himself

Martin Luther King Jr.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for nonviolent resistance in October 1964, the FBI was furious. 

Under the leadership of the bureau’s notorious director, J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI had spent nearly a decade keeping the civil rights leader under surveillance, convinced he was a Communist – or at least a national security threat. Agents recorded thousands of memos on the minister’s movements and interactions and even bugged his home, office and hotel rooms.

But they found nothing illegal or even dangerous.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover

Infamously obstinate and relentless, Hoover was determined to discredit the 35-year-old leader, especially after he won the Nobel Peace Prize and earned international acclaim.

While King prepared for his trip to Oslo to receive the award, Hoover denounced the Georgia-born minister as “the most notorious liar in the country” during a press conference in Washington D.C. in November 1964.

A few days later, the smear campaign escalated, marking one of the darkest chapter’s in the FBI’s history. One of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan, typed an anonymous, harshly worded letter to King that later would come to be known as the “suicide letter.”

Since Sullivan had nothing illegal on King, the letter focused on his extramarital sexual liaisons, which were captured on FBI surveillance. 

The anonymous author calls King a “filthy, abnormal animal”and an “evil, abnormal beast” and pledges to expose the extramarital affairs “with your filthy, dirty, evil companions.”

The letter suggests there are recordings of “all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.”

“You are done,” the letter declares. “Your ‘honorary degrees,’ your Nobel Prize (what a grim farce) and other awards will not save you. King, I repeat you are done.”

The letter is crafted to give the impression it was written by someone within the civil rights movement, making a reference to “us Negroes.”

King quietly told friends that someone wanted him to kill himself.

The letter proceeds in what is an apparent reference to suicide, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … There is but only one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

King wasn’t fooled by the misdirected writing. He was certain the FBI had written it, the New York Times reported. 

King’s suspicious were confirmed by the Senate’s Church Committee in 1975.

“Rather than trying to discredit the alleged Communists it believed were attempting to influence Dr. King, the Bureau adopted a curious tactic of trying to discredit the supposed target of Communist Party interest — Dr. King himself,” the committee concluded in a report.

King was killed by a sniper in 1968.