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J Edgar Hoover & the G-men

Posted by on Jan 22, 2011 in The War Begins | Comments Off on J Edgar Hoover & the G-men

While the Lindbergh Law assigned jurisdiction over kidnapping to the United States Bureau of Investigation (BOI) within the Department of Justice, that authority applied only if the kidnap victim was transported across a state or international border. Unfortunately, the law as originally written failed to provide a practical trigger for BOI intervention in a case. In the absence of some clue dropped by the kidnappers, or the violation of some other federal statute by the suspects, such as the Dyer Act (1919) forbidding interstate transportation of stolen vehicles, the BOI lacked the authority to investigate. In the face of public demand for action, the legal barrier proved no bar to the Bureau’s ambitious and aggressive chief, John Edgar Hoover Intelligent, well educated, and an efficient organizer of men and resources, Director Hoover was also an unsurpassed bureaucratic politician, with...

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“Unless something drastic is done…”

Posted by on Jan 4, 2011 in The War Begins | Comments Off on “Unless something drastic is done…”

By the 1930s, kidnappings in the United States were commonplace, and the crime “had become a profession.” The police chief of St. Louis, the national epicenter of the gangster “snatch racket,” advised Congress that he investigated 282 cases extending into 21 states within the space of a year. Police chiefs in 501 cities reported to Congress in 1931 that 279 kidnappings had taken place, a fraction of the estimated total. Only 69 persons had been convicted, out of the 2,000 persons thought to be involved in the “snatch,” transportation, or sequestration of the victims. Ransoms paid ran from $1,500 to $125,000. Kidnapping had truly “assumed the proportions of big business.” Whatever the numbers, said the Denver police chief, kidnapping was “increasing tremendously… throughout the country.” “Unless something drastic is done,” the Jacksonville chief asserted, “it will be unsafe for...

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