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J. Edgar Hoover (1895–1972) has elicited strong public reaction to his name and actions as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), beginning during the 1920s and continuing even today. Hoover has been idolized and vilified for nearly 100 years, with much of the criticism centering on the FBI’s domestic surveillance programs and their progeny. Beginning with the Palmer Raids of 1919 and 1920 through the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) operations, with their beginnings in the 1950s, Hoover left a legacy of surveillance operations, many of which were illegal and of ambiguous, if not blatant, unconstitutionality. Although it may be argued that these practices either saved the country from communism or wreaked irreparable harm on American freedoms, the practices of Hoover’s FBI created ...

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