FBI Turning Points: 10 Critical Cases

PALMER RAIDS—1919-20

As part of the Red Scare, thousands of suspected radicals are rounded up by FBI agents and auxiliaries. The adverse public reaction teaches J. Edgar Hoover a lesson in professionalism and highlights for the nation the issue of maintaining civil liberties during a crisis.

JOHN DILLINGER—1934 Read more »

“The Most Dangerous Institution”

For nearly a hundred years, the FBI has been fighting for America—with its discipline and professionalism often at odds with its shadowy, extralegal tactics.

When American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11, 2001, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director, Robert S. Mueller III, had been at his post for just one week. Suddenly he found himself responsible for both investigating the gravest crime in American history and for preventing further attacks. Read more »

The Key To The Warren Report

Seen in its proper historical context—amid the height of the Cold War—the investigation into Kennedy’s assassination looks much more impressive and its shortcomings much more understandable

In September 1994, after doggedly repeating a white lie for forty-seven years, the Air Force finally admitted the truth about a mysterious 1947 crash in the New Mexico desert. The debris was not a weather balloon after all but wreckage from Project Mogul, a top-secret high-altitude balloon system for detecting the first Soviet nuclear blasts halfway across the globe. Read more »

Home-grown Terror

For a sense of the continuity of the of the terrorist tradition in America, consider this actual sequence of events: The FBI smashes a dead-serious plot to overthrow the federal government and reveals that for more than a year the right-wing militias involved were undergoing army-style training, fired up by inflammatory talk radio. They Planned to use their bombs, rifles, and machine guns to wage guerrilla warfare on American cities, and they claimed friends and allies in government and the military.Read more »

The Big Leak

So big was the leak that it might have caused us to lose World War II. So mysterious is the identity of the leaker that we can’t be sure to this day who it was…or at least not entirely sure.

Blazoned in huge black letters across page one of the December 4, 1941, issue of the Chicago Tribune was the headline: F.D.R.’S WAR PLANS! The Times Herald, the Tribune ’s Washington, D.C., ally, carried a similarly fevered banner. In both papers Chesly Manly, the Tribune's Washington correspondent, revealed what President Franklin D.Read more »