The FBI is the most powerful legal agency in The United States. It was established as an impartial and professional organization and has tried to maintain that reputation since its inception. The investigations that are held by the Federal Investigation Bureau ought not to be driven by any sort of political incentive. And while this has been the case for the grand majority of the time, ever since the 2016 presidential election there has been doubt over the impartiality of the FBI. According to NPR correspondent Ron Evling, “some Republicans, disappointed by the lack of charges over Hillary Clinton’s emails and distressed by the continuing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, suddenly perceive corruption in the FBI”. While senior officials in the FBI comment that the Bureau has never been used as a political tool, the fact is that the FBI has had strong political incentives since its inception.
The FBI was created in 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt primarily to catch business leaders that were violating anti-trust laws. By creating this Bureau with this purpose in mind, Roosevelt was fueling his own political agenda. Moreso, the FBI was accused multiple times of harassing political radicals and detaining citizens who had not registered for the draft during World War I.
A Political Tool During the Civil Rights Movement:
Under the leadership of Hoover, the FBI created a counterintelligence program titled COINTELPRO. This program aimed at battling leftists such as leaders of the Communist Party and protesters of the Vietnam War. Trying to cut back the violence that came from extremist leaders, Hoover directed the efforts of the FBI towards the civil rights movement. Originally, the FBI began to “engage in disruptive tactics against the Ku Klux Klan in the South”, however, “after bloody riots erupted in many U.S. cities in the mid-1960s and later, Hoover turned his focus to ‘black nationalist’ groups such as the Black Panthers” (“NPR”). At one extreme Hoover began to harass Martin Luther King Jr. For years Hoover “hounded Martin Luther King Jr. … at one point sending him tape recordings of his tapped telephone and urging him to commit suicide” (“NPR”).