President Spies on Congress?


Did Teddy Fancy Himself More Than a President?

Did Teddy Fancy Himself More Than a President?

Teddy Like Napoleon?

Teddy Like Napoleon?

On This Date in History: President Theodore Roosevelt had many crusades during his presidency and one was against corruption.  He weilded power by liberally using the investigave arm of the Treasury Department, the Secret Service.  Apologists of the practice  suggested that the Secret Service was the federal government’s only trained investigative agency.  Remember, this was prior to the creation of the FBI.  But, opponents decried this use of federal resources as presidential thuggery, comparing the service to the secret police of Napoleon!  That little

Livingstone Had His 15 Minutes

Livingstone Had His 15 Minutes

comparison probably came about since Roosevelt’s Attorney General was none other than Charles Bonaparte, Napoleon’s Great Nephew.  Now, Congress was atwitter with rumors that President Roosevelt, in his zeal to crush corruption, used the Secret Service to create files on the private lives of Congressmen and that he meant to use them.  Does this sound familiar?  Remember the 900 FBI files that showed up in the Clinton White House and it was blamed on the former bouncer working in the White House, Craig Livingstone?

Anyway, Congress decided to take action and tried to restrict the reach of the Secret Service.  Members of the House and Senate blasted away, claiming that Roosevelt was developing despotic powers by creating his own secret police force.  Teddy fired back that he was simply using tools to fight corruption, even if the trail led right up to the doors of the Congress.  The two side tossed verbal grenades at one another until on this date in 1909, Congress decided to defend its “maligned integrity.”   (Why is it that only Congress thinks that Congress has integrity?)  The House voted 212-36 to table, or formally ignore, that portion of the president’s annual address that assailed any restrictions on the Secret Service.  It had been since the days of Andrew Jackson that a president had received such a rebuke from the legislative body.  It took a few years but eventually, it all got worked out.  Partly due to Teddy’s use of the bully pulpit and big stick way of pushing for what he wanted, a bureau of investigation was formed in the Justice Department which later became known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more commonly called simply the FBI.  Congress for its part had staked out its position against any form of domestic spying. 

J Edgar Hoover Confused?

J Edgar Hoover Confused?

Now, the funny thing about this is that the man who became the first head of the FBI was J. Edgar Hoover and he held the post until his death in 1972.  After 40 years at the helm, he had amassed so much power and had so much dirt on so many people, many people have suggested that Hoover actually held more power than any person in the United States.  Presidents were afraid of what Hoover might have in his files.  It has been revealed the the FBI pressured Martin Luther King, Jr during his Civil Rights protests with many historians suggesting that the pressure put on King was directly linked to Hoover’s own private prejudice.  So, in effect, the very thing Congress was afraid of came to pass except the power was not so much in the hands of an elected official, the President, but instead on the man who led the agency. 

It is  partly for this type of abuse of power why the framers of the Constitution did not allow for a provision  for a federal police force.  Well, after Hoover’s death, it was determined that no one could ever hold that type of power again and so the FBI director cannot serve for life any more but  instead is limited to a ten year appointment.    So, it could be said that Congress didn’t get it close to right until some 65 years after it wrestled with Roosevelt about domestic spying….keep in mind that Congress’ concern was not so much with the feds spying on your average joe….no…it was concerned with spying on them!  The public certainly cannot be privy to the skeletons in the closet  of its elected officials.  This link will also tell you of Hoover’s own closet full of secrets that may have made him thankful that there was not a bureau of investigation for investigating the bureau of investigation.  This link claims Hoover’s closet was clean…mostly….you be the judge if you care.

Weather Bottom Line:  As it turns out, my suspicions were correct.  We had light snow and the ground was too warm to have any accumulation, though I think parts of South Indiana had some white spots.  With wet roads overnight, there may be some Thursday morning icy spots but, with the wind blowing so hard, many of the roads may dry before much ice forms.  Still a good idea to be careful, especially on bridges.  As I mentioned yesterday, Thursday looks pretty cold. We won’t get out of the 30’s and the breezes will make it a bit tough.  Now we warm up a bit for Friday…though not warm…and then we just hit the tank with another pretty cold time of it next week.  If some of the data holds up, we may not get to the 20’s on Monday or Tuesday.  Even if the coldest stuff isn’t right, we’re still looking at highs in the mid to upper 20’s.  So, unless you are a thermometer you won’t notice…its going to be cold. Bet we see single digits.  Some snow showers look possible for say Sun-Tue off and on but accumulations don’t look like anything more than a nuisance and a nice post card.

2 Responses

  1. Very interesting. I had never really known that congress and rossevelt had such a rocky relationship. Thanks for posting.

  2. He was a hell raiser…especially with his own party, which is illustrated by his lack of support when he ran in 1912 as a bull moose!

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