WI: J. Edgar Hoover's secret files had been revealed to the public?

J. Edgar Hoover was able to keep his job for several decades, using the mountains of dirty secrets he obtained from others.

In this he had the aid of Helen Gandy, whose demeanor couldn't have been more different than Hoover's, but who was effectively Hoover's right hand woman.

When Hoover croaked, Gandy destroyed all his secret files with the help of some agents.

Gandy denied there being anything inflammatory in those files, claiming the files were just Hoover's personal information.

But one writer, Curt Gentry, has his own theories about what was in those files:

"... their contents included blackmail material on the patriarch of an American political dynasty, his sons, their wives, and other women; allegations of two homosexual arrests which Hoover leaked to help defeat a witty, urbane Democratic presidential candidate; the surveillance reports on one of America's best-known first ladies and her alleged lovers, both male and female, white and black; the child molestation documentation the director used to control and manipulate one of the Red-baiting proteges; a list of the Bureau's spies in the White House during the eight administrations when Hoover was FBI director; the forbidden fruit of hundreds of illegal wiretaps and bugs, containing, for example, evidence that an attorney general, Tom C. Clark,[8][9] who later became Supreme Court justice, had received payoffs from the Chicago syndicate; as well as celebrity files, with all the unsavory gossip Hoover could amass on some of the biggest names in show business."
All this makes Watergate look like a picnic. What would happen if all these dirty secrets had come out? How would the FBI have been reformed if the extant of Hoover's surveillance had been known?
 
J. Edgar Hoover was able to keep his job for several decades, using the mountains of dirty secrets he obtained from others.

In this he had the aid of Helen Gandy, whose demeanor couldn't have been more different than Hoover's, but who was effectively Hoover's right hand woman.

When Hoover croaked, Gandy destroyed all his secret files with the help of some agents.

Gandy denied there being anything inflammatory in those files, claiming the files were just Hoover's personal information.

But one writer, Curt Gentry, has his own theories about what was in those files:
Likely nothing of real importance to anyone at the time OTHER than someone looking to tarnish the image of the FBI and Hoover himself. The "importance" of Hoover's files WAS the fact no one knew for sure what he had. Gandy's destruction of them helped prop up the myth of their importance but by this point Hoover himself had already learned that the threat in and of itself was waning fast.

Hoover hadn't wanted anything to do with "law enforcement" and always treated the "FBI" more as a Federal Intelligence agency. Hence he had to be 'forced' into taking organized crime seriously. A 'good' intelligence agency is apolitical which was something Hoover was never going to be but that didn't stop him from trying. Times changed but Hoover never did and if he could he wanted to ensure that neither the FBI nor America would do so either. He failed. But his biggest 'stick' was always going to be what those 'hidden' files may or may not contain.

Randy
 
Likely nothing of real importance to anyone at the time OTHER than someone looking to tarnish the image of the FBI and Hoover himself. The "importance" of Hoover's files WAS the fact no one knew for sure what he had. Gandy's destruction of them helped prop up the myth of their importance but by this point Hoover himself had already learned that the threat in and of itself was waning fast.
So Hoover spent 50 years bluffing about how important he was?


Hoover hadn't wanted anything to do with "law enforcement" and always treated the "FBI" more as a Federal Intelligence agency. Hence he had to be 'forced' into taking organized crime seriously. A 'good' intelligence agency is apolitical which was something Hoover was never going to be but that didn't stop him from trying. Times changed but Hoover never did and if he could he wanted to ensure that neither the FBI nor America would do so either. He failed. But his biggest 'stick' was always going to be what those 'hidden' files may or may not contain.

Randy
Hoover's whole shtick was that he wanted to hunt down "America's enemies" as he saw them?

Was he being blackmailed by the mafia?
 
It is rumored that they had some pictures of him engaging in gay sex and cross-dressing
The cross dressing thing was just a intentionally fake nasty rumor. It was either created wholesale by Truman Capote because he thought it would be funny or he heavily spread it after hearing about it not because he believed them but just found it incredibly funny.

The evidence for Hoover being gay is more realistic. The complete lack of any sexual relationship with a woman along with his incredibly close and intimate relationship with Clyde Toliver make me personally believe them. I think Hoover was gay and that his relationship with Toliver was effectively romantic. But it's possible he was so deeply closeted that the relationship never became outright sexual.
 
The cross dressing thing was just a intentionally fake nasty rumor. It was either created wholesale by Truman Capote because he thought it would be funny or he heavily spread it after hearing about it not because he believed them but just found it incredibly funny.

The evidence for Hoover being gay is more realistic. The complete lack of any sexual relationship with a woman along with his incredibly close and intimate relationship with Clyde Toliver make me personally believe them. I think Hoover was gay and that his relationship with Toliver was effectively romantic. But it's possible he was so deeply closeted that the relationship never became outright sexual.

Possible. But one unflattering bio claimed that he had a long term relationship with Dorothy Lamour.

No way to know which speculation is correct.
 
Possible. But one unflattering bio claimed that he had a long term relationship with Dorothy Lamour.

No way to know which speculation is correct.
True. Sort of like James Buchanan. I personally believe both men were gay (More heavily in Buchanan's case then Hoovers) but I accept that at this point their's virtually no way we'll ever know for sure. Unless someone made a copy of Buchanan's personal papers before burning them.

Kind of sucks that America's worst FBI director and single most awful POTUS were both the only gay ones.
 
The cross dressing thing was just a intentionally fake nasty rumor. It was either created wholesale by Truman Capote because he thought it would be funny or he heavily spread it after hearing about it not because he believed them but just found it incredibly funny.

The evidence for Hoover being gay is more realistic. The complete lack of any sexual relationship with a woman along with his incredibly close and intimate relationship with Clyde Toliver make me personally believe them. I think Hoover was gay and that his relationship with Toliver was effectively romantic. But it's possible he was so deeply closeted that the relationship never became outright sexual.
It is possible that he and Tolson had a bromance.

True. Sort of like James Buchanan. I personally believe both men were gay (More heavily in Buchanan's case then Hoovers) but I accept that at this point their's virtually no way we'll ever know for sure. Unless someone made a copy of Buchanan's personal papers before burning them.

Kind of sucks that America's worst FBI director and single most awful POTUS were both the only gay ones.
Well Buchanan, unlike Hoover, did have a fiancé at one point. But she killed herself, and Buchanan was grief-stricken at one point.

And it is possible his relationship with William Rufus King was just a bromance. The joke at the time was that they were so close, they were basically wives.
 
So Hoover spent 50 years bluffing about how important he was?
Likely :) He would only actually 'need' enough actual dirt to make the claim and for the most part how many public people could take the chance knowing how much information he could/did gather?

Hoover's whole shtick was that he wanted to hunt down "America's enemies" as he saw them?

Was he being blackmailed by the mafia?
Not likely but then again he didn't consider the "Mafia" a threat. He had always been more interested in "political" rather than "criminal" enemies. Don't forget he had to be ORDERED to investigate organize crime in the US by Congress.

Randy
 
Not likely but then again he didn't consider the "Mafia" a threat. He had always been more interested in "political" rather than "criminal" enemies. Don't forget he had to be ORDERED to investigate organize crime in the US by Congress.

Randy
Well, considering his career was BUILT on the first Red Scare, it makes sense.

The dude thought MLK was a communist, and wrote him a nasty suicide letter. So yes, his house was not in order.

So his files wouldn't be anything that would actually rock the US to its core. For all the talk of how he reformed the FBI, as an investigator, he was ridiculously arrogant and narrow minded.
 
In other words, the info wasn't true, but he could claim he was true long enough for someone's life to be ruined?
I should clarify things a bit in that I believe that Hoover DID have actual 'dirt' on many political figures and what he considered "enemies" of what he saw as "America" but he was getting more and more constrained as time went on and it was DUE to the number of people who were afraid of his methods and power that were doing the constraining. Hoover wanted the FBI to be a domestic intelligence agency not really a crime prevention agency. This was so clear from the start that Congress due to state government pressure severely inhibited the FBI's power and position until the Prohibition crisis caused most of those restrictions to be dropped. Hoover of course u-turned away from 'crime' towards "political enemies" and got away with it till organized crime got so overt he couldn't ignore it anymore.

By the end whatever he might have had on anyone wasn't as important and he was literally in danger of being 'retired' whether he wanted to or not. Worse for him his 'hand-picked' successor, (who obviously would still be following his orders) was not going to be allowed to succeed him in any case.

Really you can see that HE could see the problem in the post-WWII years as he tried to maneuver to be placed in the Supreme Court, (which was supposedly the deal if Dewey won and don't forget he HATED Dewey but disliked Truman more) so that he would not be in danger of being 'fired' from public office anymore. He HEAVILY played up the in-exact nature of those 'files' for years afterward to remain in office but it was becoming far to obvious that his misuse of the FBI was more a danger than anything in those files could be.

But he commanded a lot of loyalty so it was an obvious thing for his personal secretary to burn the files to ensure no one would ever really KNOW if there was truth to the rumors.

Randy
 
Well, considering his career was BUILT on the first Red Scare, it makes sense.

The dude thought MLK was a communist, and wrote him a nasty suicide letter. So yes, his house was not in order.

So his files wouldn't be anything that would actually rock the US to its core. For all the talk of how he reformed the FBI, as an investigator, he was ridiculously arrogant and narrow minded.
Yep, the entire reason he and Melvin Purvis had their "falling-out" was because Purvis thought the FBI should actually concentrate on criminal activity whereas Hoover was always more interested in politics. Oddly enough most of the timelines I've read where Hoover actually gets his wish things don't turn out all that well for him as he really wasn't as good at intelligence as he thought he was. (I'd like to see more timelines where Purvis gets to be head of the FBI though :) )

Randy
 
I should clarify things a bit in that I believe that Hoover DID have actual 'dirt' on many political figures and what he considered "enemies" of what he saw as "America" but he was getting more and more constrained as time went on and it was DUE to the number of people who were afraid of his methods and power that were doing the constraining. Hoover wanted the FBI to be a domestic intelligence agency not really a crime prevention agency. This was so clear from the start that Congress due to state government pressure severely inhibited the FBI's power and position until the Prohibition crisis caused most of those restrictions to be dropped. Hoover of course u-turned away from 'crime' towards "political enemies" and got away with it till organized crime got so overt he couldn't ignore it anymore.

By the end whatever he might have had on anyone wasn't as important and he was literally in danger of being 'retired' whether he wanted to or not. Worse for him his 'hand-picked' successor, (who obviously would still be following his orders) was not going to be allowed to succeed him in any case.

Really you can see that HE could see the problem in the post-WWII years as he tried to maneuver to be placed in the Supreme Court, (which was supposedly the deal if Dewey won and don't forget he HATED Dewey but disliked Truman more) so that he would not be in danger of being 'fired' from public office anymore. He HEAVILY played up the in-exact nature of those 'files' for years afterward to remain in office but it was becoming far to obvious that his misuse of the FBI was more a danger than anything in those files could be.

But he commanded a lot of loyalty so it was an obvious thing for his personal secretary to burn the files to ensure no one would ever really KNOW if there was truth to the rumors.

Randy
So the burning of his files was more about...ego.

He wanted to be seen as this badass Machiavelli, not as this pathetic poser who overstayed his welcome.

It makes sense. One video put the blame for "copaganda" on him. It stunned me to learn that a lot of cop shows were basically his self-insert fanfics.
 
Yep, the entire reason he and Melvin Purvis had their "falling-out" was because Purvis thought the FBI should actually concentrate on criminal activity whereas Hoover was always more interested in politics. Oddly enough most of the timelines I've read where Hoover actually gets his wish things don't turn out all that well for him as he really wasn't as good at intelligence as he thought he was. (I'd like to see more timelines where Purvis gets to be head of the FBI though :) )

Randy
I thought Purvis was fired because his competence made Hoover insecure.
 
I thought Purvis was fired because his competence made Hoover insecure.
Hoover was never 'insecure' especially about Purvis. As director it was clear that he would never be in the field or such but he was ALWAYS the one who got a major share of credit for anything the FBI did. (And would always deflect any blame or failure) Purvis was being set up to be Hoovers successor (at least that was the press at the time) but he was focused on crime and he and Hoover had a significant difference of opinion on how the FBI should be run and "who" their main focus should be. Hoover's ONLY insecurity we can find seems to have been getting 'fired' and loosing his control over the FBI.

Purvis was VERY good at opposing organized crime and planning and executing operations to take out top criminals and gangs. He was NOT a very good politician and he disliked the more administrative requirements that a Director was supposed to do. He also was far less interested in "Intelligence" work outside of those involved with criminal activity. Hoover on the other hand was ambivalent about crime but arguably great at most other aspects of what an FBI Director had to do to promote the organization and expand it's mission. (Keep in mind when the FBI was first started the agents had no arrest or detainment power and could not even carry a gun) He built Purvis up in the public eye as the 'face' of the FBI fighting crime in the 20s and early 30s. However Purvis was a rather direct guy who saw no good reason not to pursue any and all actual criminals whereas Hoover knew that certain organizations and gangs could be coerced or cooperated with to gather intelligence and monitor the activities of "subversives" and other enemies in the US.

Purvis was also not going to roll-over and be Hoover's "man" if Hoover managed to get a 'permanent' government position, (like his attempts at being nominated for the Supreme Court) so that Hoover could continue to run the FBI. Eventually the split was wide enough Hoover dropped Purvis and went looking for someone more amiable to his plans and more in-line with his vision for the FBI.

Randy
 
I can't reasonably speculate on how much dirt there was.
If the various illegal things he did were public knowledge, all in one big, scandalous infodump, I suspect that there would be a lot of new laws passed regarding oversight of the FBI, and possibly other law enforcement agencies.
The FBI Headquarters also gets a different name.
 
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