Hoover remained as Director of the FBI for 48 years because he had secret files on presidents and members of congress - nobody dared fire him or attack him. He had Martin Luther King, Jr.'s bedroom bugged. He documented Bobby Kennedy's meetings with Marilyn Monroe. He documented illegal abortions, adulterous affairs, homsexuality, drug usage and Mafia ties of members of congress and their families. Lyndon Johnson said of Hoover, "I'd rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."
If Hoover, with the primitive technology available to him, was able to intimidate Presidents and members of Congress, one can only imagine the near total control the NSA has over those same office holders today.
"Hoover is the inventor of the modern American national security state. Every fingerprint file, every DNA record, every iris recorded through biometrics, every government dossier on every citizen and alien in this country owes its life to him. We live in his shadow, though he's been gone for 40 years. As they always told the agents at the FBI academy when they were training, 'An institution is the length and shadow of a man.' "
The article I cite from below is an interview with author, Ronald Kessler about his book Secrets of the FBI. Here are Kessler's creds:
Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of eighteen nonfiction books, including In the President’s Secret Service, The Terrorist Watch, Inside the White House, and The CIA at War. A former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, Kessler has won seventeen journalism awards including the George Polk Award for national reporting and for community service.
“The moment Hoover would get something on a senator,” said William Sullivan, who became the number three official in the bureau under Hoover, “he’d send one of the errand boys up and advise the senator that ‘we’re in the course of an investigation, and we by chance happened to come up with this data on your daughter. But we wanted you to know this. We realize you’d want to know it.’ Well, Jesus, what does that tell the senator? From that time on, the senator’s right in his pocket.”
Lawrence J. Heim, who was in the Crime Records Division, confirmed to me that the bureau sent agents to tell members of Congress that Hoover had picked up derogatory information on them.
“He would send someone over on a very confidential basis,” Heim said. As an example, if the Metropolitan Police in Washington had picked up evidence of homosexuality, “he would have him say, ‘This activity is known by the Metropolitan Police Department and some of our informants, and it is in your best interests to know this.’ But nobody has ever claimed to have been blackmailed. You can deduce what you want from that.”
Of course, the reason no one publicly claimed to have been blackmailed is that blackmail, by definition, entails collecting embarrassing information that people do not want public. But not everyone was intimidated.
Reading the Official and Confidential files that survived makes it clear they could have been gathered for no other purpose than blackmail. For example, on June 13, 1958, the head of the Washington field office informed Hoover that, prior to marrying a member of Congress, the member’s wife had been “having an affair with a Negro also at one time carried on an affair with a House Post Office employee.” More recently, the report said, the congressman’s wife “endeavored to have an affair with Indonesian, who declined.”
In response to this tidbit, Hoover wrote back on June 25 that it was “certainly thoughtful of you to advise me of matters of current interest, and I am glad to have the benefit of this information.”
“This was a way of putting congressmen on notice that we had something on them and therefore they would be more disposed to meeting the bureau’s needs and keeping Hoover in power,” says John J. McDermott, who headed the Washington field office and eventually became deputy associate FBI director.
Hoover let presidents know that he had dirt on them as well. For example, on March 22, 1962, Hoover had lunch with President Kennedy. Hoover told him that through bugs and wiretaps, the FBI had learned that Jack was having an affair with Judith Campbell Exner, a twenty five-year-old divorcée. Hoover informed the president that Exner was also having an affair with Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana. Because Hoover knew such tidbits, no president would fire him.