Top Dem: Don’t name new FBI HQ after J. Edgar Hoover

Top Dem: Don’t name new FBI HQ after J. Edgar Hoover
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The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn’t want the FBI’s new headquarters to be named after iconic and controversial former Director J. Edgar Hoover.

While in office, Hoover “routinely violated the law and infringed on the constitutional rights of American citizens,” Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying Ford opens door to testifying next week Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh MORE (D-Vt.) wrote to the head of the General Services Administration on Wednesday.

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“Director Hoover’s abuse of power and interference with the lawful activities of Americans betrayed the public trust in the FBI,” he added. “Given the systemic abuses carried out under Director Hoover’s leadership, it would be a mistake to associate his name with the new FBI headquarters.”

The FBI is currently in the process of searching for a new headquarters to replace its current offices on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington, across the street from the Justice Department.

The current facility has been named after Hoover since it opened in 1975, but the former bureau director has grown increasingly controversial in the years since his death in 1972.

While in office, Hoover’s FBI launched probes of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. Documents released in recent years show that Hoover’s FBI anonymously threatened King and subjected him to frequent surveillance, on the grounds he might be supporting communism.

Under Hoover the FBI also ran a dedicated campaign to root out people in the federal government suspected of being gay or lesbian.

“If the new building will be named for anyone, the federal government must consider individuals who represent our values and who have dedicated their public service careers to upholding the rule of law,” Leahy wrote on Wednesday.

Leahy isn’t alone in his criticism of Hoover.

James Comey, the current FBI director, has said he keeps on his desk a copy of the approved request to wiretap King, as a warning against government overreach.

“One reason we cannot forget our law enforcement legacy is that the people we serve and protect cannot forget it, either,” Comey said in a speech at Georgetown University last February. “So we must talk about our history. It is a hard truth that lives on.”