Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 6  Num. 47
                    ("Quid coniuratio est?")

"'Conspiracy' was a word that was verboten. It was not to be heard on anybody's lips. The idea that Oswald had a confederate or was part of a group or a conspiracy was definitely enough to place a man's career in jeopardy."

       -- Anthony Summers, writing in the afterword (for 
          paperback edition) of his book, The Secret Life 
          of J. Edgar Hoover

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The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover by Anthony Summers

Author Summers, writing in the afterword of the paperback edition of his book, laments the fact that "Although this book is about issues far wider and more serious than Hoover's sexual preferences, it was the sex that preoccupied the media."

This is the book known for revealing that long-time FBI director Hoover and his sidekick and second-in-command at the FBI, Clyde Tolson, were gay. Yet this book is much deeper than the stuff of mere daytime TV talk shows. True, it tells about such things as

[Roy] Cohn ushered them into a suite to find Edgar, again attired in female finery. His clothing this time was even more outlandish. "He had a red dress on," Susan recalled, "and a black feather boa around his neck. He was dressed like an old flapper, like you see on old tintypes."

"After about half an hour some boys came, like before. This time they're dressed in leather. And Hoover had a Bible. He wanted one of the boys to read from the Bible. And he read, I forget which passage, and the other boy played with him, wearing the rubber gloves. And then Hoover grabbed the Bible, threw it down and told the second boy to join in the sex."

Or how about this one:

Edgar could not stand to see his friend [Tolson] show his weaknesses in public. When Clyde stumbled and fell at the [racetrack] in California, Edgar ordered an accompanying agent not to help him. "Leave him alone," he snapped. "Let the dumb asshole get up by himself."

Hoover, who author Summers, a veteran BBC journalist, insists on referring to as "Edgar" throughout the book, had a habit of gambling on horse races with friend and lover Tolson. The two were often seen together at the Pimlico racetrack in Maryland. Apparently, Hoover received "payoffs" from the Mafia in the form of hot racing tips: he would win big at the track and in return would act dumb and say things like "Mafia? What Mafia? I don't see any Mafia."

But there's more to it than that. It is alleged that Hoover's homosexuality was known by mobsters who, in fact, had solid proof. It appears that the mob used this information as potential blackmail so as to keep Hoover from going after them. To anyone who remembers wondering, during the 1960s, how it could be that Hoover kept saying the Mafia didn't exist -- here is the answer: he was being blackmailed and bribed by them.

As noted, however, this book is much more than mere gossip about the Heinrich Himmler of the national police. Like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle which was about a lot more than unsanitary conditions in Chicago meat-packing plants, The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover is a profound study of American history and politics. It also works as a caricature of bureaucratic non- accountability and power run amok.

The historical element of the book is achieved via its focus on how Hoover, FBI director for 47 years, interacted with famous individuals of his time. Hoover had so much real power that U.S. presidents routinely bypassed their attorneys general and went directly to J. Edgar. "According to Nixon, Edgar told him 'every president since Roosevelt' had given him bugging assignments... By ignoring ethics, and on occasion the law, and by using the FBI to do it, they all made themselves beholden to Edgar."

And that brings in the political angle of this book: Secret Life is a fundamental textbook of political science, a "Politics 101". Forget about the crap they've taught you in school, your "education", paid for not coincidentally by the federal leviathan. This book gives you the real dirt on what actually goes on. Do you want something done? Then get detectives to dig through garbage cans, seduce old girlfriends and get them to squawk about what they know, pay off the right people, with a wink and a nod. "Somebody somewhere owes a favor, that's how things really get done." You don't believe it? Then read the book.

Summers seems to miss the deeper levels within his own book. He casually mentions that Hoover was a Thirty-third Degree Mason. Later, in discussing Hoover's rise to power, the author writes of the new FDR administration's proposed attorney general, Thomas Walsh, and his plans to reorganize the Justice Department. Hoover's career seemed threatened, but then "fate" intervened: Walsh died of a "heart attack" on the train bearing him to Washington, D.C.

Homer Cummings became FDR's attorney general and he, too, seemed to be about to fire Hoover. "Then fate intervened again -- this time with the death of Wallace Foster, a former Justice Department official Cummings was considering for Edgar's job."

Were these two deaths "fate", as Summers seems to believe, or was Hoover, the Thirty-third Degree Mason, already pre-determined by forces other than "fate" to remain installed as the absolute Czar of the national police -- no matter what the cost?

So too, the author misses a deeper insight into Hoover's death. According to Summers, Egil Krogh, "Nixon intimate and chief Plumber", declared that "We didn't knock off Hoover. He knocked himself off." Summers interprets Krogh's statement as alleging that Hoover committed suicide, but I don't read it that way. Previously in his book, Summers had laboriously documented how Nixon and friends (as well as others before them) had desperately wanted the aging Hoover to step down from his post at the FBI. Yet Hoover could not be budged, due to the voluminous files he maintained on others -- he had so much dirt on everyone that he was politically untouchable. Hoover knocked himself off, I think, because he would not allow himself to be retired; he left his opponents no other option.

Summers even goes into allegations that "aspirin roulette" may have been toyed with as a means of eliminating the FBI director:

Edgar had been the target of two operations, according to these sources. A first break-in attempt, in "late winter of 1972," was designed to "retrieve documents that were thought to be used as potential blackmail against the White House." It failed, but was followed by a second, successful break- in. "This time," Frazier reported, "whether through misunderstanding or design, a poison of the thiophosphate genre was placed on Hoover's personal toilet articles."

Thiophosphate is a compound used in insecticides, highly toxic to human beings if taken orally, inhaled or absorbed through the pores of the skin. Ingestion can result in a fatal heart seizure and can be detected only if an autopsy is performed within hours of death.

Hoover's body was found in pajama trousers and lying beside the bed. It is assumed that Hoover had risen during the night to go to the bathroom and had had his "heart attack" then. But it is equally likely, in my opinion, that Hoover could have died on his way from the bathroom, perhaps just prior to first going to bed. If that were the case, could it not be that Hoover took the wrong "aspirin" and collapsed on the floor, poisoned, on his way to the bed?

Quoting Hoover's physician, Dr. Robert Choisser, Summers shows that Hoover's sudden death was in no way expected: "I was rather surprised by his sudden death, because he was in good health. I do not recall prescribing him medication for blood pressure or heart disease. There was nothing to lead anyone to expect him to die at that time, except for his age."

Summer's never says it but, reading between the lines, one can infer that Hoover was murdered.

This book has a lot. Was the FBI the precipitator of the 1970 killings at Kent State? What about the FBI files still too explosive to be released? Did Hoover's being blackmailed and bribed allow the Mafia a needed foothold at a time when they could still have been nipped in the bud? Is Hoover's ultimate legacy that organized crime has now grown so powerful that it has merged with the government? Did the FBI have information that could have helped the U.S. be prepared for the Japanese raid on Pearl Harbor? Was the FBI the actual force behind the so-called "McCarthy hearings"?

And finally, my own question to come out of this book: Is the FBI, behind its public relations mask, in fact just a foul pus growing upon the united States?

I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."

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