PWT 02-2017 Twenty-Four Citizen under Suspicion
NBCI to FBI: Roosevelt – Bonaparte – Hoover
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, which simultaneously serves as the nation’s prime federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI is concurrently a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Although many of the FBI’s functions are unique, its activities in support of national security are comparable to those of the British MI5 and the Russian FSB. The FBI is primarily a domestic agency, maintaining 56 field offices in major cities throughout the United States, and more than 400 resident agencies in lesser cities and areas across the nation.
Background. In 1896, the National Bureau of Criminal Identification was founded, which provided agencies across the country with information to identify known criminals.
The 1901 assassination of President McKinley created an urgent perception that America was under threat from anarchists. The Department of Justice and the Department of Labor had been keeping records on anarchists for years, but President Theodore Roosevelt wanted more power to monitor them. The Justice Department had been tasked with regulating interstate commerce since 1887. It had made little effort to relieve its staff shortage until the Oregon land fraud scandal erupted around the start of the 20th century. President Roosevelt instructed Attorney General Charles Bonaparte to create an autonomous investigative service that would report only to the Attorney General. Bonaparte reached out to other agencies, including the Secret Service, for personnel, investigators in particular.
On May 27, 1908, Congress forbade this use of Treasury employees by the Justice Department, citing fears that the new agency would serve as a secret police. Again at Roosevelt’s urging, Bonaparte moved to organize a formal Bureau of Investigation with its own staff of special agents. The Bureau Of Investigation was created on July 26, 1908 — after Congress had adjourned for the summer. Attorney General Bonaparte hired thirty-four people, including some veterans of the Secret Service, to work for a new investigative agency. Its first chief was Stanley Finch. Bonaparte notified Congress of these actions in December 1908. The bureau’s first official task was visiting and making surveys of the houses of prostitution.
In 1932, the BOI was linked to the Bureau of Prohibition and rechristened the Division Of Investigation (DOI) before finally becoming an independent service within the Department of Justice in 1935. In the same year, its name was officially changed from the Division of Investigation to the present-day Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI. J. Edgar Hoover served as Director from 1924 to 1972, a combined 48 years with the BOI, DOI, and FBI.