1950 November 30

Author of Book Critical of the FBI Attacked, Smeared on the Floor of Congress


Max Lowenthal, author of a book critical of the FBI, was attacked and smeared by members of Congress on the floor of the House of Representatives on this day. Rep. L. Mendel Rivers (D-South Carolina) called the book a “booby trap” designed to undermine the FBI. Rep. John E. Rankin (D-Miss.) called Lowenthal a “Communist and [said] his book is Communist propaganda.”

Lowenthal was a political figure with ties to President Harry Truman.

The vicious public attack on Lowenthal was only one of many things J. Edgar Hoover did over the years to silence criticism of him and the FBI. Few news stories or books critical of the Bureau were published until its reputation began to crumble in the late 1960s. The first-ever conference on the FBI did not occur until October 29, 1971 at Princeton University.

The full scope of FBI abuses of civil liberties finally became known as a result of the investigations by the Senate Church Committee, created on January 27, 1975.

Read: Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (1991)

Explore the FBI’s Secret Files at the FBI FOIA Vault: http://vault.fbi.gov/reading-room-index/

Read: Betty Medsger, The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI (2014)

Read the Senate Church Committee report on COINTELPRO (pp. 1-77): http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports_book3.htm

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