Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on Hoovers War on Gays  CSPAN  December 13, 2015 9:05am-10:01am EST

9:05 am
and author douglas charles discusses his book, "hoover's war on gays." the fbi accumulated more than 330,000 pages on so-called sex deviants. these files were destroyed in 1977 and 1978. professor charles discusses his research into the history of the program and the public and official perception of gays during hoover's time at the fbi. the 55 minute program is cohosted by the national the gay at kansas city, and lesbians archives of mid-america, and the truman center at the university of missouri. >> j edgar hoover. when one hears his name, two images easily come to mind. the first is the long serving fbi director targeting communist
9:06 am
his files to using get his way, often times, with politicians. mansecond is of a secretive wearing a feather blower, sashaying around washington, ..c. with his lover one of those is verifiable. based on historical evidence. .he other is not nevertheless it has become an irrepressible cultural meme rooted in innuendo, and supposition. it captured the two major hoover era of sessions. .ommunists and gays until now the fbi preoccupation with gays and the means a targeted gays have not been documented and examined only in limited ways. public discourses over the fbi
9:07 am
and gays center around the idea of a gay hoover targeting his own through overcompensation. we cannot know what his sexuality was unless we are willing to use stereotyping as evidence of a person's character or nature. having no convincing evidence sexuality isover's a causal factor in explaining why is fbi targeted gaze for 40 -- targeted gays for 40 years is not helpful to understanding what the fbi did. let me take you on a whirlwind tour of my book. i cannot cover everything, but that allows you plenty of time to read it. overall, the evolution of the fbi's targeting, obsession, and politics surrounding gays and lesbians from the mid-1930's to the mid-1990's. why did it start in the 1930's?
9:08 am
the great depression? it started than because americans reassess gender roles. they also reassess perceptions of those gender roles, particularly when it came to people attracted to those of the same sex. prior to the 1930's, americans did not regard homosexuality is -- homosexuality as something serious, a serious threat, something necessitating a systematic federal response. instead it was regarded as an individual sinful act, nothing overly concerning. after the stock market crash in 1929 and the great depression set in by 1930, americans reassess those views. in patriarchal, masculine american culture, as the previously valued husbands, father, head of households suddenly failed to fulfill his assigned role, could not care for his children, lost his home, became homeless, americans change their views about gender. if the ideal heterosexual men was failing socially and
9:09 am
culturally, gays, who already stood outside expectations for men, were sudden regarded as a serious threat. moreover, after a series of child kidnappings and murders in the mid-1930's, gay men in particular were singled out as dangerous, predatory animals. for the fbi, it started just after christmas in 1936 when a 10-year-old was kidnapped, abused, brutalized, and murdered. depression era child kidnappings, murders were nothing new. in this instance, there had been a reevaluation of gender roles, and hoover had declared an end to child kidnappings in 1935, and now looked foolish. even more, the story shocked americans from coast to coast and even led franklin roosevelt to publicly promise the fbi would never stop until the killer was captured. hoover, a conservative bureaucrat holdover from a
9:10 am
republican calvin coolidge and herbert hoover administration, now had to react because one, his liberal boss, fdr, publicly demanded it, and two, he had to rectify his previous. -- his previous claims about child kidnappings. the fbi was motivated to solve this particular case. fbi agents focused on finding a offender." at the time, popular perception had it that gay men targeted children. that is who they targeted most and in particular, they focused on hobos. transients, hobos, were the most visible and iconic symbol of the great depression. almost forgotten today, at the time it was widely revealed that sexual perversion was common in the hobo community mainly because hobos commonly traded sexual favors for food or money. fbi agents not only focused on hobos, they focused on
9:11 am
ex-convicts who similarly at the time were perceived to be a population among who homosexuality was common. fbi agents finally focused on mental patients, given the view that homosexuality was a psychiatric disorder, and investigating all these avenues, fbi agents eliminated a staggering 24,000 subjects, yet never solved the case. a significant thing happened. for the first time, the fbi began systematic monitoring of gays which happen to fit a , larger pattern of the federal government coming to discover homosexuality and attempting to regulate it. for the first time, because new deal programs and new deal government bureaucrats were working directly with common americans to affect depression relief, they found themselves weeding gays out of these new deal programs, which always had a family focus. the fbi failed to solve the
9:12 am
case, thus failing to satisfy president roosevelt process -- roosevelt's public programs. -- president roosevelt's public promise, it nevertheless had collected volumes on sex offenders. to achieve some level of success in this area, hoover use that information in educational campaign. if he could not solve the murder, and they investigated it all the way through the 1980's, by the way, he could warn and educate the american public about the threat of gays. this also fit the period. in 1935, hoover's fbi created its prime records division, which is the public relation arm which famously propagated the idea that morally upstanding, professional fbi agents used to -- used scientific investigative techniques and always captured their prey. 1936, 1937, the fbi shifted that public relations effort and began focusing on educating americans about the threat of domestic fascists and communists and other subversive influences
9:13 am
like sex offenders. it was only a few years after 1937 when the fbi's perceptions and targeting of gays evolved. with the advent of world war ii, within the united states, suddenly perception of days evolved -- gays evolved to being a national security threat. why? if the gay man or woman was found in government, holding an influential position, they could be targeted by subversive elements into betraying wartime secrets, leading to failure and the loss of military lives. or so the argument went. thus we see for the second world war period the fbi investigating homosexuality among top government officials either because of stories of sexual impropriety or because they were gay-baited by political enemies. these include under secretary of state sumner welles, who famously got drunk on a train
9:14 am
and solicited sex from a male african-american train porter. it included senator david walsh, chair of the committee of naval affairs who was gay-baited because he did not fit the mold of a man's man at the time, and was accused of frequenting a gay brothel in new york city that allegedly was targeted by nazi agents. it finally included the lend lease coordinator of moscow, who also did not fit the common masculine mold of the time. he hated sports and he liked music. [laughter] leading his political enemies to gay-bait him because he worked closely and successfully with the soviets, whereas his political enemies failed, and they hated the soviets. by the cold war era, the fbi's interest in days evolved yet in gays evolved yet again. it was similar to 1937 in that then, economic disasters had led
9:15 am
to a new perception of gays, and now with the cold war, after the second world war, the rise of the soviet union as a superpower, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and fears of domestic subversion led to another focus on gays as threats. again, it coincided with a second sex crime panic in which americans perceived children being targeted for murder. this time, gays were seen as a threat to the cold war homefront and a subversive threat because communist agents supposedly could blackmail any in government into betraying the country. particularly, gays were seen as medical, criminal, and moral "deviants." a popular magazine article in 1950 argued that gays sought to recruit children into their deviancy. not just boys, all children. the article quoted one so-called expert on gays, all too often we loose sight of the fact that
9:16 am
the homosexual is an inveterate seducer of the young of both sexes, and presents a social problem because he is not content with being degenerate himself. he must have degenerate companions and is ever seeking younger victims. end quote. another text from the time on sexuality claimed because gays were a shonda part -- where a shunned part of society, quote, the homosexual will murder his victim during an act of sexual frenzy and afterwards rob him. the quickly evolved a public witchhunt for gays in the 1950's, one that was similar to yet distinct from the witchhunt for communists in government. today the gay witchhunt is known as a lavender scare. the state department had begun purging gays from its ranks in 1947. the public witchhunts began in 1950 after senator mccarthy singled out two cases of sexual subversion in the state department, which led the state
9:17 am
department to purge itself of gays, firing 91. soon after this, americans focused on the topic for years. one american wrote president truman, quote, if the state department can acquire and harbor 91 homosexuals who presumably had something to do with shaping our foreign policy or slanting the information on which it is based, the state department is capable of anything. the lavender scare long outlived the red scare. in short order, j edgar hoover's fbi responded. it had to respond. it was responsible for domestic security and for protecting americans from subversive influences. to demonstrate to the president, the fbi was on top of the issue, in april 1950 hoover forwarded the white house a list of 393 people arrested in the capital "sexual irregularities."
9:18 am
hoover created the first version apparentlyhoover created the first version of the fbi's sex , deviance program. this was based on arrest records and fingerprint records. anytime a person was arrested on a morals charge, which was soliciting gay sex, his arrest record and fingerprints were forwarded to the fbi, who forwarded them to the civil service commission. this limited program did not work very well. the civil service noted many irregularities and errors. this was compounded by two senate committees forming at the time to investigate the gays and government issue. first there was the wary committee, which only two senators were on it. then came the more significant who we -- hooey committee. both of them popularized the 11 to her scare, energized this, and let it to become commonplace. hoover was forced to reconsider and dramatically expand his sex deviance program, and he did by june 1951.
9:19 am
the reconfigured sex deviance program moved to include collecting any and all information about gays, including simple allegations. the information would be collected, compiled, that fbi source information added to it, and then be disseminated widely across government to ensure gays and lesbians were fired from their jobs. in time, recipients outside of government were added, including police departments and universities. today is the 60th anniversary of the fbi writing a memo that yes, we sent this to universities today. the program was neither authorized by the attorney general or the white house. instead, it was fbi efforts placing hoover and the fbi in the vanguard of the lavender scare. the fbi's careful effort can be seen in how gay-related information was disseminated. when forwarding information to
9:20 am
the civil service commission, house of representatives or the senate, including the library of congress and botanical gardens, fbi policy mandated the use of fbi letters. this is the document about the university today. that is the fbi's letter. particular fbi documents mean different things. fbi letters are clearly identified as being from the fbi. the fbi seal is on there, there's a signature on there, it's clear where the information is coming from. that tells us something. when forwarding information to congress -- to the government accounting office, government printing office, the judicial branch or military branches, fbi policy mandated the use of something called blind memos.
9:21 am
i will explain this in a second. blind memoranda are documents with no letterhead, no signature, no watermark, nothing revealing the fbi as a source. this is a blind memo, this one happens to be redacted. the target's name is on their. -- is on there. sexual allegations, which are blacked out. otherwise there's no indication this is from the fbi. don't worry, because i found this. the first one was from an fbi file. this one came from the eisenhower library. in this case they sent the exact , document to the president so it has the fbi seal on it. this is not actually a blind memo. that he, whoout is worked in the cia, was arrested across the street from the white house for soliciting gay sex.
9:22 am
beyond this fbi supervisors were , directed to index from all reports, letters, memos, newspapers, and other sources, all names of suspected sex deviants. they would do this by underlining the name with a green pencil. central to the fbi dissemination and purging effort was a comprehensive fbi file. the sex deviance file. one file was on sex offenders dating from 1937. another was captioned sex perverts in government service, dating from 1942. a third, called sex deviance in washington, d.c. contained the fingerprints and arrest records. the fourth was in the fbi washington field office until it was made obsolete in 1953. a fifth so-called research file captioned sex to generates and
9:23 am
-- six to generates and sex offenders constituted the information the fbi's crime records division, its public relations arm, would use to educate and influence the public about the threat of so-called sex deviants. even more, fbi field offices in cities with large gay and lesbian population such as san francisco maintained research files in which they kept information about gays in their particular locations. in total, by 1977, the fbi's sex deviance files had grown to be hundreds of thousands of pages in size. i would estimate the main file and related files probably upwards of 500,000, half a million pages. i don't have the time here to cover all government officials the fbi targeted, but that's why i wrote a 400 page book. suffice it to say, some included case, aforementioned
9:24 am
adley stevenson, charles they are, nicholas nabokov, state department official and future -- state department official nabokovsayer, nicholas in the middle. charles bolin. .amuel reber the federal security agency itself. three low level eisenhower white house correspondents, staffers, among many, many others associated with all of these individuals. in reality, because the fbi sex deviants file was destroyed in 1977, 1978, we can never know exactly how many people were targeted. this merely constitutes a tiny sampling. concurrent with the fbi's hunt
9:25 am
for gays in government at the start of the lavender scare, fbi agents also targeted the first early gay rights groups on the west coast. the mattachine society. another group was called one incorporated, which had an eponymous magazine, and it was -- and the lesbian group. here they are, looking very subversive. the first of the so-called homo-file groups --by 1952, it had caught the attention of journalists. who had given the lavender event scares the question if a communist spy could infiltrate the group and swing power. the public charges initiated an fbi investigation under its
9:26 am
common fill program to see if communists had infiltrated the groups. checking all sources from local police departments, credit bureaus, post offices, and interviewing informants, the fbi decided after months of investigation that both groups are clean. that thethe fbi missed mattachine society was founded of theer members communist party, but there are different reasons for that. by 1956, all of that changed. the magazine published an intemperate article. here it is. did the fbi was very concerned with. the magazine claimed to not only that gays worked in the fbi, but hinted that hoover , was gay. this kind of public charge led hoover to target one using federal anti-insanity --
9:27 am
anti-obscenity law. long story short, the effort failed. , the magazine, did win a legal case, forever protecting the rights of gay rights groups to use the mail. fbi records on daughters are spotty at best. they also suggest the nature of the fbi's efforts against early gay rights groups. because men were commonly perceived to be the greater threat, the greater violation of gender roles in a patriarchal, hyper masculine culture, gay men received greater scrutiny and focus than women did. that's at least on the fbi side of things. the civil service commission i'm sure it was a completely different story. the fbi surveilled members, try
9:28 am
-- tried to reconstruct daughters' membership lists, collected its magazine, and was interested in where it opened new chapters across the country. fbi retention was also drawn to the east coast of the united states went home a file groups -- when homophile groups formed. including mattachine new york, 2 groups and washington, d.c., the activity of early gay rights -- activist donald webster corey. i would like to focus on donald webster corey. that was a pseudonym of a real individual named edward. the corey persona was a hero to many gays and lesbians of the early 1950's because he wrote this book, "the homosexual in america." this was the first to offer a view of homosexuality that was in a positive light, that they were repressed segment of
9:29 am
society rather than some kind of moral, medical, or criminal deviants. something of an oddity in lgbt history -- he wrote books and participated in activist groups. in the late 1960's, as a middle-aged man, he went to college, ultimately took a phd in sociology, and became an expert on deviancy, arguing that homosexuality by the 1960's was a pathology. one historian described him as a jekyll and hyde personality, between his corey and doctor personas straight with the fbi files teach us is that corey in 1952 founded in early gay rights group called homosexuals anonymous. we did not previously know about this group.
9:30 am
fbi records about the group and corey revealed the fbi's use of an informant, a therapist as an informant, who willingly offer the fbi information about gays. we know the identity of this therapist, dr. alfred gross, because the fbi forgot to black out his name. but i love about this and i highlighted in yellow, if you look at the bottom of the document, you can see how dr. gross described him, that he was cadaverous looking. dr. gross long cooperated with the fbi when it come to gays, and he worked for a group called the george w. henry foundation, a quaker group that counsel young men arrested on morals charges. the reality is they really
9:31 am
regarded them not with any kind of sympathy, but regarded these as young men arrested who had some kind of pathological problem or medical problem. corey had invited dr. gross to speak before his group, which he did, but after doing so he decided corey's group was only interested in political rights and were rude and confrontational. he reported all of this to the fbi, including identifying for fbi agents that the corey persona was in reality edward. the fbi knew early on the identity of this major gay rights activist who hid himself behind a pseudonym. i would like to focus briefly on the fbi and gay-rights activist john richard jack nicholson junior.rd jack nichols,
9:32 am
he is well known because along with frank kennedy they founded the mattachine society of washington, d.c., famous for its militant activism and picketing the white house. what is so interesting about jack nichols, he was the son of a net bia agent of the same -- he was the son of an fbi agent of the same name. john richard nichols sr.. here he is with his second wife. the fbi must have known. junior, senior. how could they not know? i filed a freedom of information act request for nichol's file. they claimed it no longer existed. i learned the penn state archive held an fbi document regarding nichols. after some back-and-forth, i got a hold of it, and here it is. as you can see, it was heavily redacted. it does allude to somebody telling fbi officials all about nichols junior.
9:33 am
i asked the question, i wondered was his father involved? was his father mentioned in this document? i did note, if you can see it at -- i did not know because of the redaction. i did note, if you can see it at the bottom of the first paragraph, the name richard in parentheses. this is an foia release about john richard nichols junior. why would the fbi put in parentheses richard next to a blackout name when his name is richard? already knew that the sun went by jack -- that the son went by jack. the father went by richard. i thought this must be indicative of something. i filed a foi request. i wasn't sure if the fbi even still had the documents. or would even release anything to me in any event.
9:34 am
to my astonishment, the fbi released this, which is the document unredacted. what we learned here -- this is in the first paragraph -- jack nichols' stepfather, who was an alcoholic and probably drunk, called the fbi, out at his -- outed his stepson, and outed his biological father as somebody who never told the fbi he had a gay son or told the fbi his gay son was a major gay-rights activist. to put it mildly, the fbi agent father got into a lot of trouble with hoover's fbi. he was censured, placed on probation, and transferred out of the washington, d.c. field office as punishment. i still don't know yet exactly what happened to him, but hopefully i will find out in the future. chapter seven covers the politics of homosexuality. the homophobia and concern with
9:35 am
gays and government continued most famously with president johnson in the walter jenkins episode, when johnson's longtime aide was arrested on a morals charge in a washington, d.c. ymca men's room. this incident led to a wider effort to screen administration and white house employees and even potential white house entertainment to find any gays, highlighting the long life of the lavender scare. anti-gay politics continued with nixon, who uniquely and unsurprisingly took it to nastier levels. nixon would on tape claim to be the most tolerant person in the administration when it came to gays. but he never hesitated to gay-bait or use sexually related information against those he perceived to be his enemies. in november 1970, neck's and ask
9:36 am
-- in november 1970, president nexen asked the fbi for quote, a rundown on the homosexuals known or suspected in the washington press corps. he spread gay rumors about his own first secretary of state, william rogers. he called someone he met at a white house function and --an obvious lowering roaring fag, and commented on an archie bunker episode with a gay character, and nixon said, god damn it, i do not think you glorify and homosexuality public television anymore than you glorify whores. the most tolerant man in the administration when it comes to gays. nixon's underlings do not hesitate to use gay-baiting, whether spreading gay rumors are -- or planning to donate money to a gay group in the name of a political opponent great the last chapter of the book explores how the fbi dealt with the gay liberation movement, the
9:37 am
gay liberation front, andy gay activist alliance. muted from the transformation of american society. a rejection of traditional gay subculture. they refuse confrontational in unlikece protests, the movements of the past. here they are, in new york city. the fbi surveillance was also a departure from the past. by the late 1960's, the fbi director hoover had restricted the use of intrusive investigative techniques like illegal break-ins, wiretaps, and microphones. with public protests at a height and a close scrutiny on fbi activity, hoover found those investigative avenues to risky. also having reached the
9:38 am
mandatory federal retirement age at the time of 70, in 1965, hoover only continued to serve president johnson because johnson issued an executive order exempting hoover from mandatory retirement. the more reason for hoover not to rock the boat, to keep his job. also, by 1969, the civil service commission could no longer easily fire a gay employee based on circumstantial evidence alone, making it more difficult for hoover's sex deviance program to operate. hoover, during the nixon administration which started in 1969, hesitated with intrusive investigative techniques, but still provided the president with political information. when the fbi targeted the gay liberation front, agents primarily relied upon the word of informants. they had no shortage of informants.
9:39 am
they provided gay liberation protests on the political conventions in 1972. the fbi had a difficult time with the gay liberation front, which rejected formal organization. it had no elected officers, no committees, no by-laws. it was anarchist in nature, which ironically stymied fbi agents and firmly described its nature, function, an organization. they could not figure out who was who. there was no who was who. leading fbi agents to better understand activities and organization. never was the fbi able to develop information from either group to purge gays from
9:40 am
government jobs or disrupt the two groups. the book concludes with the fbi after hoover's death in 1972 and nixon's clinical demise. without hoover driving it, the fbi sex deviance program essentially ended. the files to be destroyed in 1977 and 1988, but it did continue its anti-gay employment discrimination. that ended by 1993 after a gay fired fbi agent sued the fbi to win back his job. suing the fbi to get your job back if you were gay was never done before. that shocked the fbi. to make a long story short, he won his case. it was a class action lawsuit which forced the fbi to end anti-gay employment discrimination, and then anti-gay employment animus. except for the military.
9:41 am
the rest ofrough the agencies like the cia and the national security agency's -- security agency. the irony of ironies, it was the fbi, the trailblazer in the war against gays, that had become the trailblazer in ending anti-gay employment discrimination in the federal government. thank you. [applause] >> if you have any questions, please come to the microphone, located in the middle of the room, so we can get those recorded. thank you. >> it sounds like the administration representing both political parties during the cold where a if not equally hostile towards gays, negative
9:42 am
towards gays. to what extent can you attribute that to the cold war and to what extent are there other factors going on with both parties? dr. charles: both parties, democrats and republicans were hostile to gays in government and gays in general. equally. loathe them that was a function of the culture of the united states, from the great depression onwards. there's not any surprise that one party would be different from the other. the irony here, all of the start ed in 1937 with the franklin roosevelt administration. if any of you know your lgbt history, franklin roosevelt in the past was assistant secretary of the navy. in 1920 there was the famous newport navy gay sex scandal. he was behind that too. there's no political affiliation that goes along with this
9:43 am
across-the-board. >> you didn't mention this, maybe you did in previous books -- hoover's obsession with eleanor roosevelt and hinting at her being a lesbian. dr. charles: i think that's also a function of the culture of the times. eleanor roosevelt did not to some people to fit in with expectations of what a woman should be, probably staying at home, raising kids, unique relationship with her husband, and she was powerful, she spoke out. it's oddly similar to hoover. there's no evidence that either were gay, but these were the common beliefs based upon stereotypes. stereotyping is not good historical evidence. anybody else?
9:44 am
>> since you are in kansas city this evening, and kansas city is unique because we have over the last few years developed the gay and lesbian archives of america which claim to document the history of the lgbt community, in your research, did you come across any references to activism in kansas city, and i ask because those that aren't aware, the fbi has had a long presence in the kansas city area and had a very active regional office. i would be curious to see if you have any information you came across from the midwest in particular. dr. charles: nothing that comes to mind. most of the activism released in the early 1950's and into the 1960's was restricted to the west coast and east coast. but once we get into the gay liberation movement, that spread across the country, primarily on college and university campuses.
9:45 am
there was a lot of fbi reports from cities across the country, just field offices. here is what is happening at the local campus with the gay liberation front. probably something from here, but nothing that comes to mind immediately. yes? >> other than the last example you cited with the court case where he won his job back, has there been any restitution for any the employees of the federal government that had been fired, any apologies, anything from the government that said this is not something we're proud of? dr. charles: no. to put it simply. there has been a movement to hoover's name from the fbi building. they plan to build a new fbi
9:46 am
headquarters outside of washington. as i understand it, the name will not be on the new building, which is probably appropriate. what they will do, i actually don't know. that's as close as we get, i think. >> can you tell us more of the story about how the files were destroyed, and why? dr. charles: the program file dates from 1937 of through the -- up through the 1970's. when hoover died in 1972, he was the driving force. when he's out of the picture, fbi agents, fbi officials, they don't push it so much anymore. times are changing anyway. the fbi as an organization is responsive not only to the winds whims ofly to the whoever happened to be the fbi director, and hoover is gone after 48 years, but it is also responsive to the changing political winds. why is it 1977, 1978 when we destroy these files?
9:47 am
carter is proclaiming human rights. he's the first president to be friendly with gays and lesbians and gay groups, the first president not to denigrate them. he never really does anything proactively to help them, but there is this new attitude at least with carter. i don't think it's surprising at all that in the 1970's the fbi wants to destroy 330,000 pages of evidence. wished is not actually live up to human rights -- which did not actually live up to human rights. if you're wondering how can we know anything about it, the reason we know something about it is there was a general description by the national archives who actually surveyed the files and then gave approval for its destruction. on the fbi side of things, what they did with the copy document into the file. the individual case files on targets still exist in many cases, you just have to know the
9:48 am
file number written in the margin of the fbi document, which is a cryptic series of numbers. they're out there. the problem is you have to know who was targeted, you have to prove they're deceased. it's a very laborious task and impossible to reconstruct the entire thing. the index no longer exists. >> former police chief became the director of the fbi, clarence collie. any of his involvement after hoover died? dr. charles: after hoover is dead, nothing happened with it. i discuss this in the book. anything after hoover involving gays, gay rights -- it's usually gay rights putting pressure on the fbi to end anti-gay employment discrimination.
9:49 am
the fbi typically writes back, we don't harass gays. that's basically it. they stopped targeting proactively. the anti-gay stuff is still there until 1993. >> you mentioned earlier that a big part of the fbi starting to make this investigation was because of the kidnapping, and i wanted to know, did all those kidnappings lead to death? were the kidnappings public knowledge during the depression? was there a decrease in the amount of children that were kidnapped once this war began? dr. charles: there were scholarly studies actually made of crime rates during the great depression, and there was no increase in crime rates. this was all popular public
9:50 am
perception that children were being targeted, and believe that was not true, the child kidnappings and murders had increased. it was just a media focus, public focus. there was no increase in crime. those who were kidnapped, both boys and girls, not everyone was murdered. some people were released safely. but this is a typical thing with the fbi and the american public, when children are involved, somebody has to be held responsible and given the social dictates at the time, it was widely believed that gay men targeted children. that's what they did. there's a large category of child predators, among whom gay people do not belong, given stereotypes that is who was targeted for years. years and years.
9:51 am
can you tell us something about the picture? is the man on the far left an fbi agent? i thought hoover had a hangup about facial hair on men. have you been to hoover's grave? dr. charles: i have not. >> you know the ultimate irony. dr. charles: hoover is in the middle, to his left is clyde tilson, allegedly his lover and associate fbi director. i'm not sure who it is on the other side. that is another fbi official. i don't know his identity. i don't think hoover was quite that strict with facial hair. >> do you know who was four down from hoover? dr. charles: no. >> the air force person who was given a medal for killing a man in vietnam and thrown out of the air force for loving a man. it's the ultimate irony that
9:52 am
they are there together forever. dr. charles: there are lots of ironies that go along with hoover. it's generally ironic that he is member this way, given everything that he did, whether or not it's true. >> will you talk a little bit about how you first became aware of this fbi organization, this investigation, and did you face any particular challenges in getting these documents other than what you've already stated? dr. charles: my doctoral dissertation was "j. edgar hoover and the anti-interventionists." one of those was the chairman of the senate naval committee,
9:53 am
senator walsh. that was in my dissertation. i wondered, what else did they do? i knew stories about other cases, sumner welles, the cold war cases. nothing had been written on it, nothing substantial. individual pieces, one chapter of an entire book. as an fbi historian, i started researching this, and well, it was a monumental task, one because the file was destroyed and so there was no way it would ever be reconstituted, but how could i possibly explain this, not having all of the documents? i'm sure there are other things out there, but i think every extent document there is on this, including -- talk about difficulties in finding research
9:54 am
material -- the sex deviance program file was destroyed, including all documents about it except for some documents that indirectly referenced it. documents in other files that say there was a sex deviant program file and described what it did great when i was in -- what it did. when i was in washington, d.c. last year doing my bit of -- last bit of research for this book, it turned out the man -- it turned out there was a man there suing the fbi through the foia to get documents about this. i thought, i have these already. i met the guy, he showed me this document, it was the fbi's sex deviant program. somehow they got it from the fbi. i don't know how it survived. it is described in detail how the program worked, everything i told you today. it was dumb luck. i was worried, how will i explain the program itself in chapter four? i don't have the document.
9:55 am
just good luck in many cases. the other part is getting around the redaction's. it's good detective work. we know the fbi sent documents to the white house. if the fbi document is redacted, maybe the one in the presidential library isn't. oftentimes it isn't, and we can make the connection. or just sometimes it's the fbi forgetting to block out a name. that helps a lot. don't tell them. [laughter] anybody else? >> anything about the fbi, hoover and truman? dr. charles: hoover usually cultivated a close relationship with presidents, starting with franklin roosevelt, but it depended on the president.
9:56 am
roosevelt and hoover were very close. roosevelt and truman were not close whatsoever. eisenhower comes in. they are close again. jfk comes in. hoover is not close with jfk for a good reason. hoover's nominal boss would be jfk's brother. hoover had a habit of bypassing the attorney general and dealing directly with the president. he could not do that. johnson comes in, very close with johnson. nixon comes in, they have a strained relationship but still very close. it depends on the president. he did not like truman in many ways. -- he undermined truman in many ways. >> when hoover died, his longtime secretary destroyed a lot of his records.
9:57 am
dr. charles: there was the famous secret files of hoover, these were his office files, and this is one of the clever ways he got around fbi files being subject to court discovery motions, a lawyer would ask through a judge for the fbi to release somebody's fbi files. hoover would say, the official files at the fbi contain nothing about this person. that's because that document was not in the official files, it was in his office files, and that is what was destroyed. there were two of them. one of them was destroyed almost totally. the other one survived. we can workers -- we can reconstruct a lot of that. that's how he operated. very cleverly. >> thank you, dr. charles, for being with us this evening. [applause] you come in to this house, there is so much to do.
9:58 am
so much coming at you that there is no time to think or reflect. are digging up soil because we are going to plant a garden. >> i will be satisfied, neither neither will my husband be, until every military veteran or spouse that has a job -- that once a job has one. >> in 2008, michelle obama the first african-american first lady when her husband was a .ight at the 44th president her focus has been on social issues like poverty, education, and healthy living -- wants it -- launching the let's move initiative targeting childhood obesity. michelle obama on "first ladies: influence and image." privateg the public and
9:59 am
lives of first ladies and their influence on the presidency. tonight on american history tv on c-span3. she was such an authentic person. >> i always felt there was more thene story of lady byrd anyone covered. she became, i think, the first modern first lady with a big staff, important project, writing her book as soon she left the white house. she invented the modern first lady. announcer: tonight, discussing lyndon. lady byrd and this releases pages of the first lady diaries giving a look at the partnership the between lady bird johnson and lyndon johnson. a good conclusion to the fact that those women saw
10:00 am
something in those men -- the ambition, the opportunity to make a mark in the world -- and they married them in spite of parental objections. eastern goodin the tonight at 0 and pacific on c-span's "q&a." week until the 2016 presidential election, american history tv brings you past archival coverage of past elections. next, we look back to the 2000 campaign and democrat al gore in new hampshire. vice president gore went on to win the democratic nomination but lost to george w. bush and the general election. the race was among the most highly contested in u.s. history and not decided until five weeks after voters went to the polls when the u.s. supreme court stopped a recount in flora.

37 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on