Created in 1908 under the Department of Justice with a small band of secret service officers originally tasked to catch bank robbers and other interstate criminals, the size and scope of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has grown substantially to include over 35,000 employees today and a collection of over 50 field headquarters in the United States alone as well as 80 overseas attache offices. The stated mission of the FBI is simple: to defend against domestic and international threats too large for local and state authorities to handle. How this manifests is not simple, nor is the operation of the organization, engaging with some of the worlds most sophisticated spy agencies and criminal organizations. And while infiltrating high profile spy rings and catching serial killers make up the FBI’s most famous success stories, the Bureau is not without its scandals, oversights and massacres. With the increased focus on anti-terrorism and its daunting global nature, the organization’s mandate for identifying and preventing potential threats seems only set to grow.
— Timeline —
-1870- President Ulysses S. Grant creates the Department of Justice
-1895- J. Edgar Hoover, future Director of the FBI, is born in Washington D.C.
-1901- President William McKinley assassinated by anarchist-partisan Leon Czolgosz, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumes office of POTUS.
-1908- Unofficial creation of the FBI under Attorney General Charles Bonaparte; a year later, the group was renamed the Bureau of Investigation.
-1917- US Congress passes the Espionage Act, extending power to the FBI to investigate and arrest radicals and potential saboteurs in World War I.
-1919- A series of Anarchist Bombings, carried out primarily by anarchist-partisans following Luigi Galleani, targeted key officials and businessmen of the United States.
-1920- Anarchists bomb Wall Street, acting under implicit teachings of Luigi Galleani.
-1920-1921- bribery scandal involving the FBI’s attempts to gather opposition research and compromising information against political enemies of President Harding.
-1924- J. Edgar Hoover offered job as Director of the Bureau of Investigations
-1928- SCOTUS decision on Olmstead v. United States – wiretapped phone conversations determined not protected under the Fourth and Fifth Amendments
-1932- FBI Laboratory opened at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, offering state-of-the-art scientific analysis to aid in FBI investigations.
-1934, May/June- Crime Bills criminalize bank robbery, kidnappings, and other crimes associated with the Depression-Era crime wave, enabling arming of FBI agents.
-1934- Infamous American gangster and bank robber John Dillinger is shot and killed by FBI agents on the streets of Chicago, Illinois after years of investigations.
-1942- The FBI, under direction of Hoover, recruits Mary Markward to infiltrate the CPUSA (Communist Party of the United States of America) and become the party’s treasurer.
-1943 – Project Venona set to monitor, collect, decrypt, and analyze SIGINT between the USSR and its agents inside the USA.
-1947- The FBI receives Morris Childs after he volunteers to infiltrate the CPUSA, becoming second in command of the party by the 1960s.
-1950-51- Kefauver Committee investigates Crime in Interstate Commerce
-1963- JFK assassinated in Dallas, Texas
-1967- Katz v. United States decision on Fourth Amendment protections for wiretapped calls overturns Olmdstead v. United States.
-1968, April- MLK assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee
-1968, June- RFK assassinated in Los Angeles, California
-1972- J. Edgar Hoover dies of a heart attack in his home.
-1975- FBI Agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams shot and killed at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation by, allegedly, Leonard Peltier, later revealing flawed methods used by FBI ballistic analysis.
-1975- Infamous Boston ganger, James “Whitey” Bulger, recruited by the Boston field office of the FBI, under purview of Special Agent John Connelly.
-1975-76 – Church Committee studies Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities
-1992, August 21-31- Ruby Ridge standoff between the Weaver family and the FBI, several are shot and killed on both sides
-1993. Feb 28 – April 19- Waco Siege between the Branch Davidians and FBI; over 80 killed in a firefight and later fire at the compound
-2001- 9/11, Robert Mueller appointed Director of the FBI; increases emphasis on technology and counter-terrorism
— References —
– Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy (1991)
– Wedge: The Secret War Between the FBI and CIA, Riebling (1994)
– Rules of Engagement: Waco, Gazecki (1997)
– FBI Secrets, Kessler (2011)
– The Threat Matrix: The FBI at War in the Age of Global Terror, Graff (2011)
– Don’t Talk to the Police (2011) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9xYp7eE
– Enemies: A History of the FBI, Weiner (2013)
– Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, Summers (2013)
– Hoover’s FBI and the Fourth Estate: The Campaign to Control the Press and the Bureau’s Image, Cecil (2014)
– Black Mass, Cooper (2015)
– Federal Bureau of Investigation (Documentary), National Geographic (2015) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y_zJiYM0Nk
– Days of Rage, Burrough (2016)
– How FBI Intel Helps Task Force Stem Illegal Flow of Drugs (2016) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-PzAwMVEAU
– One of the FBI’s Major Claims in the iPhone Case Is Fraudulent (2016) – https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-future/one-fbis-major-claims-iphone-case-fraudulent
– When Will President Trump Fire Robert Mueller (2017) – https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/when-will-president-trump-fire-robert-mueller/534459/
– White Nationalists and ‘Alt-Right’ Celebrate Arrest of Jew for Bomb Threats (2017) – http://forward.com/news/366898/white-nationalists-and-alt-right-celebrate-arrest-of-jew-for-bomb-threats/
– John Rivello faces 99 years in prison for aggravated tweeting, Bristow (2017) – https://twitter.com/KyleBristow/status/884989639190335488