The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been a core of American popular culture since its christening in 1935. That year also marked the beginning of the popular ‘G-Man’ movie phenomenon that helped establish the Bureau’s image. J. Edgar Hoover took active interest to ensure that the FBI was not only well represented in the media, but also that it was depicted in a heroic, positive light.
To see how their ‘crime doesn’t pay’ policy evolved over the years read these interesting facts about the FBI!
The Federal Investigation Bureau of the United States (FBI) is the primary federal prosecution agency of the United States of America.
In 1908 Attorney General Charles Bonaparte directed that Department of Justice investigations should be handled by a small group of special investigators.
Edgar Hoover landed his first job with the Department of Justice in 1917 at just 22 and by 1924 had become the head of the FBI’s forerunner, the Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI first began wiretapping in the 1920s to arrest people smuggling alcohol during the Prohibition era.
In the 1920s, three women served as FBI agents. None were hired during the tenure of J. Edgar Hoover.
In 1935 the present name of the Federal Bureau of Investigation was designated by Congress.
Edgar Hoover saw communist threats everywhere during his tenure as the Director of the FBI. One such threat came from the 1947 movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. This charming little Christmas film was accused of promoting communist messages through its negative portrayal of bankers in the film’s villain, Mr. Potter.
During the McCarthyism period in the 1950s, when people suspected of being communists had their careers ruined in a giant witch hunt, Walt Disney took action… by becoming an FBI informant. He reported the names of those people whom he suspected to be communists. In return, Disney got to film the Mickey Mouse Club at the FBI headquarters.
Extrasensory Perception (ESP) was a topic that greatly excited the FBI back in the 1950s. They were convinced that if they could harness ESP, it would provide a huge advantage in their efforts.
One of the FBI’s biggest enemies in the 1960s was none other than the dangerous criminal known as Martin Luther King Jr. In particular, his “I Have a Dream” speech convinced J. Edgar Hoover that King was the “most dangerous and effective leader” in the country.
When Hoover died at 77, he had spent 48 years, 62 % of his life at the helm of the powerful service.
Shortly after Hoover’s death in 1972, the FBI Academy admitted two female agents-in-training.
FBI directors are now limited to 10-year terms.
The FBI’s activities and operations are under constant scrutiny and review by the Attorney General, committees of Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, the courts, and the Nation’s press.
Throughout the FBI’s history, they have had to deal with espionage within the United States. No less than eight Nazi spies were arrested by the FBI after they were discovered to be plotting sabotage within American territory. Six of those agents were executed.
The FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives publicity campaign came about in 1950 when a reporter asked the agency for the names and descriptions of the “toughest guys” on its inventory of targets.
The resulting article garnered so much attention that Hoover decided to begin issuing an official list. Since the program’s inception, 465 of the 494 criminals who made the top 10 have been apprehended or located.
Legislation enacted in June 1968, provides that the Director of the FBI shall be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Almost 30,000 men and women, including 12,000 special agents were hired in the FBI.
All FBI Agents must complete an intensive course at the FBI Academy, located on the United States Marine Corps Base at Quantico, Virginia.
The FBI has 59 field offices located in major cities throughout the United States and in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Not even Frank Sinatra was immune from the FBI’s gaze. Being a friend to both John F. Kennedy and (allegedly) several known mobsters, it should come as no surprise that the FBI had been keeping a file on Ol’ Blue Eyes practically since he first got famous.
The FBI investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy under direct orders of former President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Due to the confused response by the various law enforcement agencies in the wake of the assassination, Congress passed a law in 1965 which ensured that the FBI would be in charge of investigations into the deaths of federal officials.
Nowadays, the state-of-the-art FBI Laboratory employs over 500 scientists in their efforts to deal with their many cases. Pretty impressive, given that in 1932, the FBI Laboratory was inside a single room and was run by a single technician named Charles Appel.
Incredibly, the FBI didn’t switch from paper files to digital until 2012!
You don’t have to be a wanted criminal to have fingerprints on file with the FBI. If you’ve ever been fingerprinted for a background check like for a driver’s license or job then the FBI has probably stored those prints.
The Freedom of Information Act is controversial, but now you can request to see copies of anyone’s FBI files, including your own. The FBI has created files for many of the world’s most famous people, including Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe, and Dick Clark.
Albert Einstein was another man who caught the FBI’s attention in a big way. Given his intelligence and his background, the FBI was obsessed with keeping Einstein away from working with the US government. Despite finding no evidence to confirm their suspicions, the FBI eventually collected a file on Einstein no less than 1,800 pages long!
Do you have any interesting facts about the FBI that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below.