A History of the FBI
The FBI was created on July 26, 1908 as an unnamed agency with the transfer of under 50 agents from the Secret Service. Next year it was given the name Bureau of Investigations. It got its present name in 1935. Upon inception the mandate covered such crimes as antitrust violations, bank and bankruptcy fraud etc. The mandate was extended in 1910 and 1919 by adding to FBI’s responsibilities the task of stopping border crossing of women for prostitution (White Slave Traffic Act (Mann Act) and of stopping similar border transfers of stolen cars (Motor Vehicle Theft Act ‘Dyer Act of 1919’) respectively. The FBI thus came to aid the police in combating criminals who would dodge the police by crossing borders.
The FBI was asked to investigate sabotage, espionage, draft dodging etc. during World War I. After the war the FBI got engaged in the obsession of containing the “Red Scare’. In the 1920 Palmer Raids, with Edgar Hoover actively involved, thousand of communists, civil rights and labor union activists were rounded up and harried. The FBI had its reputation tarnished following uncovering of massive abuse of its powers for illegal searches and arrests.
J. Edgar Hoover took over as the agency’s director in 1924. He replaced those found wanting with more, better qualified, professional and talented agents. He emphasized training, reporting, and employing scientific analysis techniques. Following the Lindbergh Act of 1932 Congress in 1934 declared bank robbery, extortion, and interstate Racketeering as crime and this added to the FBI’s responsibilities. During the World War II years, the FBI was once again involved in an obsession, that of combating the spreading of fascism and Communism. The Smith Act of 1940 gave the agency the task of investigating espionage, counter-espionage etc. FBI agents tracked spies and suspects, draft dodgers and the agency also helped other agencies in deciphering coded messages.
Following the end of...