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J. Edgar Hoover (1895—1972) American lawyer and director of the FBI 1924–72



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Federal Bureau of Investigation

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The investigative branch of the US Department of Justice. Established by Attorney-General Charles J. Bonaparte (1851–1921) in 1908, it was at first called the Bureau of Investigation. It was reorganized in 1924 when J. Edgar Hoover was appointed as director, giving it wider powers to investigate violations of federal laws. Hoover successfully led the 1930s drive against gangsters. During World War II the FBI began spying activities against Nazi sympathizers in the USA and Latin America. The later excesses of Hoover, in particular his harassment of political dissidents and radicals such as Martin Luther King, brought its counter-intelligence activities into disrepute. It was roundly criticized by the Senate in investigations of the Watergate scandal in 1975–76.

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