1946 July 17

President Truman Authorizes FBI Wiretapping

 

President Harry Truman on this day approved a memo from Attorney General Tom Clark that authorized wiretapping by the FBI. Clark’s memo continued secret FBI spying on political dissidents that had been authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, on May 21, 1940.

This incident reveals that while many of the FBI’s actions under J. Edgar Hoover were secret and unknown to his superiors, many others were directly authorized or passively approved by the attorney general or the president. The notorious COINTELPRO program, for example, which arguably involved the most abusive FBI actions, was approved by the National Security Council on March 8, 1956, with both the president and the attorney general giving their silent assent.

The full scope of FBI abuses were not known until the investigations and reports by the Senate Church Committee in 1975-1976 (see January 27, 1975)

Read Truman’s Memo and many related documents: Athan Theoharis, From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1991)

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

View the collection of FBI files on people on organizations: http://vault.fbi.gov/reading-room-index

Learn more: Athan Theoharis, The FBI & American Democracy: A Brief Critical History (2004)

Learn more about wiretapping from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: https://ssd.eff.org/wire/govt/wiretapping-protections

Read the Church Committee report on abuses by the FBI: http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/church/reports/bo

 

 

 

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!