I never thought I’d utter these words, but yesterday accused felon Donald Trump said something I agree with. Trump called for defunding the wildly politicized and incompetent FBI, destroyer of lives, families and communities. In the personage of none other than FBI founder J. Edgar Hoover, it tried to destroy my family.
In 1959, George Washington University fired my father, Dr. Richard Reichard, for being a member of the Communist Party while pursuing a doctorate in history at Harvard. At the time, Hoover was on the GWU board of directors. My father’s firing threw my family into financial hardship, forcing us to move into my paternal grandmother’s home in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and forcing my father to, among other things, sell his lifelong stamp collection so he could put food on the table.
Later on, when I was a kid in Charlotte, North Carolina in the 1970s, my father more than once told me the FBI only went after radicals, political activists and smalltime, powerless criminals, and never after rich, powerful criminals who did much more damage to lives and communities.
That was right then and it still is.
In 2012, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for any and all FBI records on my very prominent role in Occupy Bangor (Maine), and I received back various pages of records, most of which was redacted – as if it involved matters of national security or something similar.
In other words, the same old FBI abuse of power.
But it’s hard to imagine Trump would ever defund the FBI. JFK reportedly hated Hoover and wanted to fire him, but didn’t. One can only imagine the dirt Hoover might have had on the famously philandering Kennedy.
And LBJ waived mandatory retirement for Hoover, who steadfastly refused to die. The dirt Hoover may have had on LBJ is perhaps less hard to imagine – and it might have done in JFK too. In 1960 there were widespread reports of real – not hallucinated – election fraud in the race that elevated Kennedy and his vice presidential pick Johnson to the White House. In Johnson’s home state of Texas and in Chicago, a city lorded over by Mayor Richard Daley (Sr.), the deceased reportedly flocked to the polls.
(Richard Nixon, who did not receive the votes of the deceased, thought about challenging the election, but wisely decided against it. He knew better than to corner the ruling class.)
When Hoover finally did die in 1972, my father got behind the wheel of our purple Plymouth Valiant and drove through the streets of Charlotte honking and yelling: “Hoover’s dead! Hoover’s dead!”
It’s not hard to imagine the dirt the FBI might have on Trump. Never mind whatever high-priced guests Trump might have had in any Moscow hotel rooms, Trump reportedly sold Trump Tower condos to Russian mobsters at fire sale prices. Staving off a defunding from the likes of Trump would have been child’s play for Hoover.
But Trump’s call for defunding the FBI did remind me of a 2004 Counterpunch piece I wrote on the FBI’s long history of incompetence.