J. Edgar HooverU.S. Federal Government
The first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation whose power base extended past presidential authority, J. Edgar Hoover was a racial conservative who considered many Civil Rights Movement activists to be dangerous subversives and Communist sympathizers.
Claiming that the FBI was "not a protection agency," Hoover had ordered agents to avoid intervening in civil rights crises and to limit their activities to observation and note-taking. In addition, he had ordered surveillance of several key figures in the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr..
Hoover chose not to pass along intelligence received from Klansman and FBI operative Gary Thomas Rowe to Attorney General Robert Kennedy about the planned May 14 riot at the Birmingham Trailways Bus Terminal, giving the Kennedy administration no way to prevent the violence. At the May 20 riot at the Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station, Hoover's FBI agents stayed inside several parked vans taking pictures. The agents' film later turned out to be defective.
J. Edgar Hoover served as Director of the FBI for mare than 40 years, through the terms of 9 presidents.