The Federal Bureau Investigating (FBI) is an agency that apparently has been in existence from time immemorial. Its origin can be traced to the early years of the 20th century during the tenure of President Theodore Roosevelt. For several years, the activities of the FBI were not recorded or publicized for public consumption. It was not until the enactment of the amendment of the freedom of Information Act in 1974 that publications about FBI were allowed to circulate across the United States. (Kessler,2006). Since then, researchers have pointed their search-lights at the activities of the FBI.
Many tales of the achievements of the bureau have been promoted globally. However, some controversial issues have also been linked with the bureau, which are still not really made known to the public. This academic research will discuss the FBI in an un-bias manner, revealing all aspects of the bureau, if a thorough understanding of what FBI is, what its purpose is, how it operates is to be achieved. In the late 19th century, 1886 precisely, it was discovered by the Supreme Court that the United States intestate commerce was un-regulated.
Consequently, it became a Federal responsibility to fill up this vacuum. This gave birth to the 1887 Interstate Commerce Act. This act needed personnel to enforce it, but the Justice department had a shortage of investigators. Hence, the Attorney General then, Charles Joseph, took the initiative of plunging into other agencies like secret service for investigators. However, the congress frowned on this development of using Treasury staff as investigators and they promptly passed a law against this in 1870 (Kessler, 2006).
The Attorney had no other option than to embark on an inception of ad-hoc investigators, so he hurriedly put together a formal group of investigators, which was named Bureau Of Investigators (BOI), with agents supplied by the secret service. These agents that became the first set of BOI agents were 12 in number. BOI later metamorphosized into FBI, invariably meaning that the first set of FBI agents were actually agents from Secret Service agents. (Timeline of FBI History) As expected, the BOI was christened several names until it was eventually named FBI.
It was given the name the United States Bureau of Investigation in 1932. In the preceding year, it was adapted to the Bureau of Prohibition and renamed the Division of Investigation (DOI), until finally in 1935 it became the FBI. (Timeline of FBI History). The bureau started with precisely 34 agents, out of which 10 were agents from the secret service. In 1932, the first FBI laboratory was opened officially in order to facilitate scientific crime detection, under the directorship of J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI director, who was formerly the director of BOI, the mother of FBI.
Edgar served as a director for over 47 years and immediately after his death, a law was passed to limit the tenure of directors of FBI to a maximum of 10 years. (Timeline of FBI History) Edgar was quite articulate, he did not only champion the FBI laboratory, that developed DNA testing and pioneered identification using fingerprinting system in 1924, he was personally involved in many of the assignments and project executed by the FBI. The first official tasks these agents were assigned was to enforce The White Slave Traffic Act of June 25, 1910. (Timeline of FBI History).
The agents were visiting and surveying prostitution houses. During these early years, the FBI’s jurisdiction was constrained simply because most of the investigations were already assigned to the local police and other law enforcement agencies. It was only given the responsibility of investigating bankruptcy and postal fraud, antitrust violations, destruction of government properties, and other crimes on “Native America reservation”. The Mann Act, which prohibited the transportation of ladies for prostitution and decadent acts and the Dyer Act, the Vehicle theft law both further empowered the FBI.
Many of the criminals that once evaded the local police across the United States were doomed by these laws. The bureau was empowered to bridge the gap across the state where criminals choose and use to disappear from other agencies. In the1930s, FBI declared war on crime and they achieved a great success for they either apprehended or killed several notorious criminals that were involved in crimes ranging from serial killing, kidnapping, robbing. Criminals like George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, “Baby Face” Nelson, to mention only a few, were all caught in the net of FBI.
( Timeline of FBI History) All these names will ring a bell to historians of criminal and crimes. Irrespective of the fact that FBI was still in its early years, it succeeded in apprehending the whole revolutionary Mexican army based along the California border in the 1920s. Yet another achievement of the early FBI was the leveling of the strength and influence of the famous “Ku Klux Klan”, who influenced and sponsored many organized crimes. In later years, between 1940s to1970s, FBI delved into major espionage cases against United States and her allies Nations.
These were the years FBI was gaining maturity. Eight Nazi agent plotting sabotage to American goals were arrested, six of them were executed. It was also during this period that the FBI embarked on a Joint US/UK code braking project and the bureau was able to break the “Soviet Union intelligence and diplomatic communication code”. The bureau had planted spies into the soviet intelligence working underground which must have led to the arrest of the Soviet spy, Rudolf Abel in the year 1957, yet another major early achievement of FBI. (Douglas,2007)