Tuesday, February 06, 2007
So, 18 months later and I finally finished "Public Enemies" about the "War on Crime" that Hoover waged from 1933-34. As I mentioned earlier, the FBI was ludicrously incompetent while maintaining a noticeable distance from ethical bonds. During this period, the FBI convicted a man with perjured testimony from an agent, assassinated at least one bank robber (which caused German papers to denounce American justice, apparently forgetting Der Ironytätenspielenkeitenschaft), possibly dropped another from a 19th story window (or let him jump while the agent was on a coffee break), kidnapped suspects, tortured other suspects, and managed to have agents within 50 ft of John Dillinger 3 times in a month without capturing or killing him. To cap it off, in their pursuit of the last of the big names, the FBI agent sent to look for the guy in Havana meets & talks with him in a hotel lobby & doesn't recognize the suspect.
Apparently a lot of non-criminals weren't keen on a national police. Since then, of course, they've kept a close eye on Commies like MLK, Jr. (only a Red would fight for Blacks!), failed to notice a CIA agent driving a car worth more than his annual salary, barely missed the anthrax killer (from almost 300 possible suspects), so it's not all bad. Actually, the FBI did pretty much end kidnappings and helped throttle bank robberies (both, of course, crimes that inordinately afflicted wealthy Americans), but did so more through luck & prosecution of those harboring criminals than by actual police work.
Definitely a good read, though a bit confusing at times. And it will definitely make you wonder how a couple of hick like Bonnie & Clyde got posthumous fame via a movie...