J.Edgar Hoover went to bed at the home he had lived in all his unmarried life on May 1, 1972. He was found dead in his bed on May 2. His date of death is listed as May 2. I like to think it was on May 1.
J. Edgar was director of the FBI for 48 years. That’s a long time for one man to be head of a police force. He ruled with an iron hand. He called his white men agents, yes for most of his years they were men and white, “special agents.” He and they believed they were special even though he made them into puppets living in great fear of him. Those he favored loved him as all those favored by dictators love their boss. Those out of favor keep their mouths shut. He had that much power. Any agent who fell out of his good graces he could bar from ever having another government job or contract. His vengeance knew no limit and he brought it about through his many puppets.
J. Edgar thought of the FBI headquarters as the Seat of Government. SOG is a familiar abbreviation in the FBI that is still used today. Just think, in J Edgar’s eyes he was the government itself.
There’s one apocryphal story about him that shows how blindly J. Edgar’s agents followed his every wish as they tip toed around him accepting his peculiarities and unquestioningly following his dictates. He wrote with blue ink in a particular shade. No one else in the Bureau could use that color.
He required all reports that he received to come to him formatted in a specific manner. One day he received a report not formatted properly. The type ran too close to the edges of the paper. J. Edgar scribbled: “Watch the borders!” on top of the report. When he handed it back to his deputy, instructions went out to all the agents that they should pay particular attention to the Canadian and Mexican borders.
That was that type of organization that John Connolly joined in 1968 in his late twenties. 1968 was when the Vietnam War was at its height. All able body males were wanted by our Armed Forces. John had been successful in avoiding military service up to that time. But push came to shove so he jumped into the arms of the FBI escaping from the fighting fields.
Moses came down from the heights of Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments. J. Edgar liked guys who followed those commandments. But J. Edgar at the Seat of Government had one commandment that was superior to God’s ten. It was engraved in the hearts of every agent, “Don’t Embarrass the Bureau.” Former ASAC Fitzpatrick in his book “Betrayal” says, it is “[t]he age-old mantra you will never see written anywhere, but nonetheless is the creed agents live by . . . .” This fundamental belief is found in every book written by any agent.
48 years rule by one man produced a closed society. It was made worse by the idea that it had the right to do anything it wanted as long as it did not become public knowledge and embarrass it. It never hung its dirty laundry on the line. It still doesn’t. In judging the events of these years you need to know this. It is very important in forming a judgment of Connolly.