BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach, author of "Hoover's FBI: The Inside Story of Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant," why did you write the book?
CARTHA DeLOACH, AUTHOR, "HOOVER'S FBI: THE INSIDE STORY OF HOOVER'S TRUSTED LIEUTENANT" : Brian, I felt like I had to; either me or one of 10,000 other ex-agents of the FBI or current agents of the FBI, but mostly agents of that particular era. There have been so many distortions of history -- ludicrous yellow journalism to the fact that people wanted to make a fast buck out of by spreading arrogant rumors that were totally false; innuendo, which you'll find throughout the book and which I combat. I wanted the book to have believability so, consequently, I indicated our faults and J. Edgar Hoover's faults. But the book had to be written so that I feel that my children, my grandchildren, other people's children and grandchildren can go to the college and university libraries and find something besides garbage on the shelves concerning the FBI of our era and about J. Edgar Hoover.
LAMB: Let me jump to the end. You have a chapter in which you tell the story of Mr. Hoover's last day, when he died. When was that?
DeLOACH: That was in 1972. I believe it was March 2nd, 1972, if I'm not mistaken.
LAMB: And his job then was?
DeLOACH: His job was director of the FBI. He died in the job.
LAMB: How old was he?
DeLOACH: He was 78 years of age.
LAMB: In the job?
DeLOACH: In the job.
LAMB: Where were you that day?
DeLOACH: I was in Indianapolis, Indiana, presiding over a meeting and I got a call from Dick Kleindienst, who was attorney general, and he swore me to secrecy and then indicated that Mr. Hoover had died. And I was shocked. I was distressed. Frankly, he'd been in the job so long that I thought he was going to stay on it forever. And as a matter of fact, he told me once, “I will never leave this job,” and he never did. But Kleindienst, the attorney general, asked me to come back to Washington and take over the bureau in an acting capacity until President Nixon could appoint me or someone else. I told him I would have to check with the chairman of the board of Pepsico, whom I was reporting to and working for at the time as the vice president of Pepsico. And I also wanted to check with my wife and to think a little bit about it. And he said he knew it would be a financial loss compared to my job in private industry, but that he would appreciate it and so would the president if I would come back and take over. I said, “Well, give me, at least, until 12 noon to give you an answer.” And he said, “Fine.” And I called him back at 12 noon and he indicated that President Nixon still wanted me, but he also wanted somebody else, too, but would I come back just in an interim capacity. I told him, “No, that I would not do that,” and so that was about it then.
LAMB: On that day that Mr. Hoover died, he had a visitor, who, you say, they had trouble knowing what to do with? Who was that and why was she there?
DeLOACH: That was Lynda Bird Johnson and I knew her well. She was a good friend when her father was in the White House. But she was there to interview J. Edgar Hoover about his two dogs, Cairn Terriers, and, frankly, the agents didn't know what to do with her. And finally one of them did tell her, after the press release had gone out from the White House, that Hoover had died. She was shocked. She rushed to the phone and told her father and he was shocked also. LBJ was still living then at the LBJ ranch in Texas. She was regarded by Hoover as somewhat of a foster daughter, inasmuch as she, her mother, father and her sister, Luci, lived right across the street from J. Edgar Hoover on 30th Place Northwest. So as a result, she had somewhat of a proprietary interest, in her opinion, to interview him occasionally, and she was doing it this time, I believe, for Good Housekeeping.
LAMB: How long was he director of the FBI?
DeLOACH: From 1919, when he became acting director -- he became director in 1924 -- until 1972.
LAMB: How long did you work for him?
DeLOACH: Almost 29 years.
LAMB: What was...
DeLOACH: I almost thought I'd make a career out of it, Brian.
LAMB: What was the highest job you had?
DeLOACH: As his deputy. The formal title was assistant to the director, but he called it deputy and at times when he was out of town I served as acting director of the FBI.
LAMB: One of the stories that you deal with is that day that he died, that you say an author made all kinds of suggestions that -- and you can tell the story about a body being removed from the house at a time that he wasn't even dead yet. What was that whole story about?
DeLOACH: That had to with the allegations made by a number of individuals -- again, having no basis and fact whatsoever -- allegations that the FBI had secret files hidden away in J. Edgar Hoover's house; that he had taken them and placed them there for safe keeping. There were no secret files in his house. There were no files whatsoever in his house concerning the FBI. Others felt that his body had been placed in a blanket at 7:00 in the morning and sent to the funeral home. Actually, his body had not even been discovered by that time. So, again, it was just false allegations concerning supposed secret files and his body had been taken away in a clandestine manner, which was absolutely false, as are many of the allegations concerning him. He had his faults, and I'll be glad to tell you any of those in my opinion.
But, nevertheless, having secret files at his home or having secret files anywhere, Brian -- the allegation has been made time and time again that he had secret files for the purposes of blackmailing members of Congress. That's totally preposterous. We had, behind Helen Gandy's desk, and Helen Gandy was his secretary for over 45 years, we had two file cabinets. And one of the file cabinets had two and a half drawers of files. Some of those files concerned John F. Kennedy, Eleanor Roosevelt; they concerned a undersecretary of state, who had committed a homosexual act; and it concerned Richard Nixon and various other notables. Now why? Why did we have them there? Simply because of the fact that we didn't want young GS-2 clerks coming in from the boondocks and making a beeline right away for those files to satisfy their curiosity and then possibly going out and advising Mom or Dad or someone else, “I have had a chance to look at the file of this great personality.” So we would take the top files of notables and take them and put them behind Helen Gandy's desk. They were not secret files. I could look at them. Any individual on a top level in the FBI could look at them if they had a legitimate reason for doing so. But they weren't secret files. They were open to all of us at all the times. And the only reason we moved them was to keep prying eyes from going out and gossiping.
LAMB: Did FDR ask the bureau to investigate his wife?
DeLOACH: Yes, he did. He had information, and I don't know from where, but he asked Hoover at that particular time to put a surveillance on Mrs. Roosevelt for the purpose of determining whether or not she was having secret rendezvous with a certain Army colonel and with a state trooper in New York. And we did that accordingly at the instructions of the president. Which brings up to mind -- the FBI has been used or misused by many presidents and by attorneys general, which the FBI's under.
LAMB: You say that an agent dressed up as a milkman?
LAMB: How and what happened?
DeLOACH: Well, he went in the apartment where Mrs. Roosevelt was staying, and she was dressed in a housecoat at the time. And the individual that President Roosevelt was somewhat suspicious of was in the apartment at the time and Mrs. Roosevelt was making him breakfast. And this was the only way that the agent could determine whether or not she was meeting with this individual, and he did get the proof and he put it in the report. And the report was given to the president.
LAMB: Did you ever get any sense of what the president did with the information?
DeLOACH: None whatsoever. And we could care less. Frankly, it was misusage of the FBI by a president. And I think here, again, that President Roosevelt misused the FBI more than any other president, although they have been used by most all presidents since the beginning -- or since the inception of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
LAMB: Did you say you caught a secretary of state in a homosexual act?
DeLOACH: No, an undersecretary of state.
LAMB: An undersecretary of state.
LAMB: Did you -- do you name...
DeLOACH: We didn't catch him. The report was given that the undersecretary of state, traveling to Senator McKellar's funeral in Tennessee, had lured a porter into a bunk bed during that particular trip. And we were asked by the president to investigate that matter and we did. And the report, here again, was turned over to President Roosevelt, but the copy was kept in FBI files.
LAMB: How did you decide what information to put in this book? And did you -- I mean, is there any restriction on this kind of information? And how much of it is first time it's ever been published?
DeLOACH: I don't think there should be any restriction on the information. I put the inside information concerning the presidents asking us to do various things in there simply because of the fact to prove there were no secret files. That was the basis for doing it in that particular chapter. Whether there's restrictions currently today or not, I don't know. But when I left the FBI, I took with me only the matters that were pertaining to me personally as a matter of information. But also I had requested the director of the FBI, who was Judge Webster at that particular time, to send me copies of every memorandum I wrote between 1951 and 1970, particularly if it had anything to do with the White House or the Congress. And I received over 6,000 memoranda from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. That was the basis of considerable valued information and the rest came from personal memories that I recall very vividly.
LAMB: Could others have asked for that same information -- the memos that you wrote -- or is it just you that could ask for that?
DeLOACH: Absolutely. They could receive the same thing that I received if they only ask for it, under the Freedom of Information Act. I was given no favors in that regard.
LAMB: What did you think of J. Edgar Hoover?
DeLOACH: He was a very complex man. He was very formal, austere, aloof. He was a perfectionist. He was probably the best public relations toe-dancer in Washington insofar as realizing the importance of something and taking advantage of it. But by the same token, I think that he could very safely and very properly be called the father of modern-day law enforcement. Why? Because he, himself, advocated and promoted the centralization of fingerprinting by usage of police all throughout the world -- the free world that is. He brought into a new standards -- raising the standards, rather, of law enforcement and giving law enforcement officers something to be proud of in handling their position. The National Crime Information Center, which is a great boon and a new initiative for law enforcement, has saved many lives -- that is the recording of stolen goods and stolen automobiles, and stolen jewelry and paintings and the listing of fugitives throughout the United States and many other things. The FBI Laboratory, the training of police -- he brought all this about. It may not have been his idea to start out with, but nevertheless he capitalized on it and brought it about for usage for all of law enforcement, and it has helped law enforcement considerably.
LAMB: Who's Clyde Tolsen?
DeLOACH: Clyde Tolsen was the associate director of the FBI. For many of the latter years of Hoover's life, Clyde Tolsen was sick. He had a stroke, he had several other things that happened to him, and he was ill quite a bit of the time. But in his heyday he was a very sharp individual; had a brilliant mind; could handle administrative work or paperwork faster than anyone I've ever seen.
LAMB: Where is he in this picture?
DeLOACH: Clyde Tolsen is -- on the top picture he is...
LAMB: This one right here -- the bottom one.
DeLOACH: He's standing in -- oh no, the bottom. He sitting at the far end of the table, and that is the living quarters of the president of the United States, Lyndon B. Johnson.
LAMB: And you're off to the right, next to him?
DeLOACH: That's correct.
LAMB: And Lyndon Johnson has his back to us?
DeLOACH: Lyndon Johnson had his back to us.
LAMB: And how close was Clyde Tolsen to J. Edgar Hoover?
DeLOACH: He was an ally. Let me preface my remarks this way, Brian, please. Every man needs a close friend, somebody he can trust, somebody who's loyal to him, whether it's his wife, his son, his daughter. Hoover had no family after his mother died, so he needed a friend, an ally. And Clyde Tolsen was that ally; someone he could trust. Now the basic wrong in that was Clyde Tolsen showed slavish obedience to J. Edgar Hoover when he should, at times, disagreed with him for the good of the organization. But if the boss, meaning Mr. Hoover, said something, Clyde Tolsen said, “This is what we've got to do.” I can remember many times when the executive's conference voted 11-to-0, unanimously, for a specific matter, but it was sent into Hoover and Hoover would say, “No, I disagree.” So Tolsen would call us back together and said, “Obviously, we were wrong. Hoover was the director, he was right and, therefore, we've got to do it over again.” There was slavish obedience there. There was loyalty to the core. And I think at times that Tolsen and any of us -- maybe we would have lost our jobs, we would have lost the battle, there would have been skirmish, but I think Tolsen should have showed disagreement at times.
LAMB: Who was Sid Richardson and Clint Murchison?
DeLOACH: They were friends of Hoover. They were multimillionaires from Texas. They owned the New York Central Railroad for a time. They owned many other things, particularly land in Texas. They would go on vacations and Hoover would meet them at the Del Charro Hotel in San Diego. He would also meet them in other places. They paid his bills from time to time. They paid his dinner bills. They paid his hotel bills from time to time. He thought that he was uncorruptable, in particular in his later years. It was wrong for him to allow this to be done, but he knew in his own mind that they would never ask him for any favors and they never did. They did not try to capitalize on the fact that they had paid his bills. Then it wasn't considered totally wrong. Today, in today's life, yes, it is. But as director of the FBI, that should not have been done.
LAMB: You have a whole chapter in here devoted to the Gay Director Question Mark. Why?
DeLOACH: Simply because of the fact I wanted to combat the distortions of history -- the ludicrous charges that have been raised about the fact that J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual and a transvestite. I lived with the man, as far as being and having an office next to his for 15 years. I traveled with him. I've stayed in the same suite with him on occasion. I was in his home; he was in my home on very infrequent occasions. I knew the man. I knew he was not a homosexual, as did all of his people who worked for him. I knew that he was not a transvestite. He was a deeply religious, aloof, formal individual who was greatly charged by his rearing, by his mother, who was a very formal, deeply religious person and well disciplined.
LAMB: Let me read you a statement that you made...
LAMB: ...in your book in that chapter. “He was certainly more of a man than Mr. Summers, and I've seen both at close quarters.”
LAMB: Who are you talking about?
DeLOACH: Tony Summers interviewed me for his book and he did not use -- he used hardly any of the proofs that I gave him or facts that I gave him concerning the fact that J. Edgar Hoover's activities or the FBI's activities. Having known Mr. Hoover and being in his office almost every day, particularly during the last 15 years I was there, that I knew him very well and I thought that I sensed in Summers exactly what his makeup was. And I think that Hoover was much more of a man than Summers.
LAMB: What would have been wrong if he had been a homosexual?
DeLOACH: In the light of the society and today the society of that particular day, back in the '60s and '70s, he was a man who was the director of the FBI, who was charged with some of the gravest security and espionage problems of the nation. He would be totally subject to blackmail and many other things if he had been a homosexual or transvestite. But let me add to that, Brian. Where is the proof that he was a homosexual? Summers and others have indicated that there were pictures involved. Where are the pictures? Who are the sources? One of his main sources was an individual, a woman, in New York, who was a convicted perjurer, an inmate of Rikers Island Prison, and who felt that her husband had gained inside information from J. Edgar Hoover to gain a divorce from her in a messy suit. Hoover had not given Rosenstiel any information or anyone else. But that was one of Summers' main sources. Other sources that he used -- some of them were corpses -- and I think if the corpses were dug up today they'd be astonished to find they'd been quoted in this particular way. But nevertheless, there's no proof whatsoever that the man was a homosexual or transvestite. What could have been wrong with it? Only the fact that he would have been subject to blackmail and had been stigmatized accordingly as director of the FBI.
LAMB: Did you know Abe Fortas?
DeLOACH: Yes, I knew him well. He was a good friend. I admired and respected him when he was an attorney, when he was Lyndon Johnson's attorney and when he was on the Supreme Court. I thought he had a very keen mind.
LAMB: You tell stories, though, about him in which you say he was -- and the word is in here -- “downright unethical”when he was on the Supreme Court. What were you talking about?
DeLOACH: I don't say that he was unethical. I said that maybe he may have stretched the line a little bit in still remaining LBJ's attorney even though he was a justice of the Supreme Court. But my association with him came about in several different ways. Number one, the fact that Hoover and I both felt, and Tolsen, that Bobby Kennedy was attempting to give the Supreme Court possibly some false information inasmuch as and insofar as the usage of wiretaps and microphones are concerned. Also, there came the time when Lyndon Johnson wanted his prospective son-in-law, Chuck Robb, who is now a senator, investigated prior to the time that he married Lynda Bird. And he asked both Justice Fortas and me to handle that brief investigation. We did. There was nothing wrong with Chuck Robb, nothing derogatory in his background. He had been a distinguished captain in the Marine Corps. But that was misusage of the FBI, but that was -- again, was dealing with Abe Fortas when he was a justice.
LAMB: What I was referring to earlier about unethical, these are your words -- “Of course Fortas' involvement in the matter was blatantly unethical,” and this is that whole matter of Bobby Kennedy and the bugs and that you ended up going up to the Supreme Court, when he was on the court, and meeting with him. Would you tell us more about that?
DeLOACH: Yes. I felt that -- well, this was in the Black case -- the usage of electronic surveillance and microphones in the Black case. And Hoover felt at the time that the Department of Justice -- actually, Thurgood Marshall, who later become a justice, went up and argued the case for the Justice Department concerning Black. Black had indicated that his attorneys had indicated the usage of microphones would negate any decision made in his case, and Thurgood Marshall argued against that. And we were afraid that not only would we would be stigmatized if the Department of Justice did not give out the correct facts, which we didn't think they would do because they wanted to escape -- politicians wanted to escape any blame or stigmatization themselves. But we felt the court would lean over backward to knock out all electronic surveillances, which we desperately needed.
LAMB: This was a lobbyist named Fred Black.
DeLOACH: Yes. Exactly.
LAMB: In what year? Do you remember?
DeLOACH: I don't.
LAMB: It be in the middle '60s somewhere?
DeLOACH: I think that's correct. I think so.
LAMB: Thurgood Marshall was solicitor general.
DeLOACH: That's correct.
LAMB: First on the job.
DeLOACH: '63, '64, I believe -- one of those years.
LAMB: But you ended up going up and having a private meeting when there was a case before the court. Now you say in this chapter that Justice Fortas had recused himself.
DeLOACH: That's correct.
LAMB: He was not involved in this case.
DeLOACH: That's correct.
LAMB: But he still did something he had an impact on it.
DeLOACH: He felt he had the right to give the other justices the correct facts as given to him.
DeLOACH: And I felt he had the right to do so. But...
LAMB: Would you want people running in and out of that Supreme Court talking to these justices in these cases all the time like that?
DeLOACH: If they needed the correct facts, yes. If we felt that they would not get the correct facts, that the facts would be bent for politicians to escape blame on any particular cause, they should -- they have the right to the correct facts, yes.
LAMB: But isn't that what briefs are for? I mean, the private meetings that are supposed to be not allowed.
DeLOACH: That's very true. That's very true. But by the same token, we were dealing with facts and I gave the correct facts to Justice Fortas and he acted accordingly.
LAMB: What happened in the end then in this case?
DeLOACH: I don't recall the outcome of the decision to tell you the truth.
LAMB: Did you get you wanted, though?
DeLOACH: Yes. Yes. The Supreme Court did not indicate that the investigative agencies of the government should do without electronic surveillance. We saved that particular matter for further usage when necessary and when approved by the attorney general. And insofar as the outcome of the Black case is concerned, I don't recall.
LAMB: You write about an Agent Hosty in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Who was he and what role did he play?
DeLOACH: Agent Hosty was a special agent assigned to the Dallas office of the FBI. When Lee Harvey Oswald became involved with the Fair Play for Cuba Committee and was giving out leaflets on the streets of New Orleans, got in a fistfight with a bystander on the street because he was favoring Fidel Castro, then later moved to Dallas -- Agent Hosty was assigned the case involving Lee Harvey Oswald. But more so his wife was not a naturalized citizen. She had come here from the Soviet Union. And he also, in accordance with our policies at that particular time -- we were to interview citizens who came in here -- people who came in here from the Soviet Union, if they had not become citizens or had no indication of becoming a citizen or showed no indication. So as a result he tried to get in touch with Marina Oswald on several different occasions.
Agent Hosty was not present the day that Lee Harvey Oswald brought a note to the Dallas office of the FBI. The note, in our opinion, was not threatening, but the note was given to Agent Hosty later on. He showed it to the special agent in charge, whose name was Gordon Shanklin. Shanklin indicated that the note should be destroyed. Hosty states that he followed the SAC's, the special agent in charge's, instructions, but he, too, agreed that the note was not threatening and he did destroy it. In retrospect, he now states that he didn't think that that was a good idea; that he should have saved it. But he did say it was under his agent in charge's instructions. That had nothing to do with the indication that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald. Lee Harvey Oswald, even though he had been sympathetic to the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, had been to Mexico, had been to the Soviet Union, was not considered a threat to the president of the United States or was not considered a threat to anyone. He was a milquetoast to a great extent; a loner. He'd been in the Marine Corps. He was a marksman in the Marine Corps, yes. He had been kicked out. Then he went to the Soviet Union where he meet Marina, married her, came back to the States. But he was -- despite all that, he was not considered a threat to anyone.
And under our policies at that particular time, we did not furnish the information concerning Lee Harvey Oswald to the Secret Service. We did many other individuals in the Dallas area at the time that President Kennedy was going there. But Oswald was the agent assigned to that particular matter. And Oswald I think, while he should have brought the note to the attention of FBI headquarters, nevertheless, did not do so at the instructions of his agent in charge. As a result, he was later disciplined, as were other FBI personnel in the matter.
LAMB: You open the book with a chapter called Hoover's FBI and this sentence, “Messieurs Jenkins” -- Walter Jenkins -- “Moyers” -- Bill Moyers of PBS -- “and Carter” -- I don't know the name Carter.
DeLOACH: Cliff Carter. He was an aide ...
LAMB: Cliff Carter.
DeLOACH: He was an aide to the president at that time.
LAMB: “... President Johnson, were particularly interested in suppressing dissent from black groups.” Bill Moyers interested in suppressing dissent from black groups?
DeLOACH: Well, the Bill Moyers of then is not the Bill Moyers of today. Bill Moyers had an assignment from President Johnson to control what went on at the Democratic National Convention in 1964. And the rules committee of the Democrats at that particular time were especially concerned regarding the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. They wanted to be seated as delegates. The rules committee voted that the regular delegates who have been voted on as a state were to be seated rather than the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. The Freedom Democratic Party came in and sat in the seats of the regular delegates. Moyers wanted them out of there. Moyers wanted to control the situation. Moyers asked us on his radio and on his transmitter, asked us for the FBI to move these delegates out of there. We refused to do so because I thought that was sheer politics and I refused to have anything to do with it. But it was a different situation then and he was acting under the orders of the president.
LAMB: What was different about then and now?
DeLOACH: Moyers is not acting under the instructions of Lyndon B. Johnson today. Moyers is acting totally in a different capacity without instructions of that particular nature.
LAMB: You say you liked President Johnson.
DeLOACH: I did.
LAMB: What did you see up close that you liked and what did you see up close that you didn't like?
DeLOACH: He was compassionate. He would send sausage at Christmastime. He would send toys to my children. When my daughter had surgery at a hospital in Alexandria, he sent her flowers. He did many compassionate things insofar as my family is concerned. As a matter of fact, Brian, he on one occasion -- Easter -- one year at Eastertime asked my family and me to go to Camp David and stay there the entire weekend and we did. On other occasions, he was bombastic, he had a hot temper, and he would humiliate you if he felt that you'd done something wrong or something not to his liking. But I liked him. I liked him as a man then. I like him now. I did not agree with his policies insofar as legislation involving finance is concern or new programs. But that was not up for me to decide. I was simply a liaison officer between the FBI and President Johnson.
LAMB: Why did you call, or why did the FBI agents call the Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark “Bull Butterfly”?
DeLOACH: It wasn't the agents. It was J. Edgar Hoover. He disliked dealing with Ramsey Clark. He had been good friend with Tom Clark.
LAMB: His father.
DeLOACH: But he felt that Ramsey was somewhat of a pipsqueak and Ram -- Tom Clark's son. He felt that politics had put him in his office when he didn't deserve to be attorney general, and he felt that the best name that he could find for him was the “Bull Butterfly.” And he constantly, in conversation with me and other bureau executives, referred to him as a “Bull Butterfly.”
LAMB: Let me read you back some of the words you used to describe J. Edgar Hoover and ask you to explain what you meant by them. Vain.
DeLOACH: Vain. He was a man that had an ego. He was vain in personality to some extent. He loved luxuries. He would dress in sartorial splendor to a great extent, even though his surroundings -- his office and his home was not -- didn't express splendor in the least. It was very common. But he, himself, personally wanted to be. He was very vain in wanting to dress the best he could and insisting that agents also have a proper dress code. He was vain insofar as weight is concerned. I recall one situation where he was dressing to go to a state dinner at the White House and he found out that his trousers wouldn't fit him; that they were about -- his waist had extended a couple of inches. And so he had to buy new trousers right away to go to that state dinner.
But the following day he put in to order that all agents should adhere to the Metropolitan Life Insurance standards concerning weight. Now many agents, particularly pro-football players or college football players, had, you know, gained a little weight since entering the FBI and they had a tough time getting it off. But the weight control program saved many lives and I think it was a good thing regardless. Three of us, the top executives of the FBI, one day he marched us down to the nurse's quarters, the health room on the fourth floor, and he weighed us in. I was three pounds overweight. Another executive was 12 pounds overweight. One was 10 pounds overweight. So he constantly dubbed us the ‘Dreadnoughts’ and we were known that for a long time. But vanity was one of his faults and I think he had a lot of vanity.
LAMB: You call him obsequious.
LAMB: Where did you see that?
DeLOACH: I felt that he was somewhat obsequious in his -- well, let me put it this way. In the matter involving Mrs. Claire Chennault, he gave me instructions not to follow Lyndon Johnson's advice in writing, but he told Clyde Tolsen to tell me to go ahead and do it anyhow -- to obey President Johnson's instructions insofar as obtaining toll calls in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the president thought Richard Nixon had stopped on his campaign plane. Actually, it wasn't Lyndon -- it wasn't Richard Nixon; it was Spiro Agnew, the vice presidential candidate, that stopped in.
LAMB: Let me interrupt.
DeLOACH: But here I had one in writing and telling me not to do it and verbally telling me to do it. I felt that was somewhat obsequious.
LAMB: Let me go back, though.
LAMB: That was '68 -- the campaign of '68.
DeLOACH: That's correct.
LAMB: Lyndon Johnson did not run in '68. Hubert Humphrey was the candidate running against Richard Nixon.
DeLOACH: That's right.
LAMB: And Lyndon Johnson calls you -- or I think you said Bromley Smith calls you, who was working for Lyndon Johnson, and says what?
DeLOACH: He indicated that the president had received information from the National Security Agency indicating that Mrs. Chennault had been to the South Vietnam Embassy.
LAMB: Who is Mrs. Chennault?
DeLOACH: Mrs. Claire Chennault was the wife of the Flying Tigers General Claire Chennault, and she was a strong Republican. She socialized and she was very close friends with John Mitchell, the attorney general, and with Senator John Tower. And she also liked and was friends with Richard Nixon. But that Mrs. Chennault had been to the South Vietnamese Embassy, indicating it would be appreciated by certain quarters if the Paris peace talks -- if the South Vietnamese would not go to the Paris peace talks. That infuriated President Johnson, who was trying his best at that particular time to get the South Vietnamese and the North Vietnamese together with the United States at the Paris peace talks to close off the war in Vietnam. And he was infuriated over the fact that someone was trying to meddle in that and in his opinion and trying to keep that from happening -- the South Vietnamese from being there.
So that's why he requested the FBI, through Bromley Smith, at a time -- and later on he got into the act personally himself. But Bromley Smith asking the FBI on behalf of the president to put a surveillance on Mrs. Chennault and also to put a wiretap on Mrs. Chennault, as well as the South Vietnamese Embassy. We did so at the instructions of the president, and getting it in writing from Ramsey Clark, the attorney general, who was instructed by the White House to give us approval to do that.
LAMB: Now at what time in the campaign was that? October? Was that near the end?
DeLOACH: This was after Johnson had indicated that he would not again seek the approval of his party for the candidacy of president -- that he would not run again. And he put his strength behind Hubert Humphrey. But he wanted Humphrey to possibly get the credit for closing off the Vietnamese War, and, of course, the Republicans wanted to get credit for Richard Nixon for doing it. If the South Vietnamese had not gone to the Paris peace talks, and Nixon had already become president, then he would get credit for possibly closing off the war. So consequently it smacked of politics very definitely.
LAMB: One other aspect of this I wanted to ask you about, though. At some point in the process, FBI agents moved into New Mexico, into Albuquerque, and insisted to look at telephone records on whether or not there'd been a call placed from Albuquerque back to Mrs. Chennault or the South Vietnamese Embassy from Richard Nixon's campaign plane.
DeLOACH: That's absolutely right.
LAMB: But the question I have for you is: Could FBI agents, even though this was a political request, insist and see any telephone record in the country at any time they wanted to?
DeLOACH: If they had the cooperation of the telephone company in doing so, yes. In that particular time they were not seeking to place a wiretap on Spiro Agnew or Richard Nixon or anyone else other than Mrs. Chennault, which was done under the instructions of the White House. What they were seeking were toll calls. And as Spiro Agnew's plane in Albuquerque rolled to a stop, a phone was put on board and five calls were made. Several calls were made to New York, one was made to Dean Rusk, the secretary of state at that particular time. There were no calls made to Mrs. Chennault. There were no calls made to the South Vietnamese Embassy. But we did get the calls, who they were made to, what time they were made, and then we turned that over to Lyndon Johnson.
Now let me go a step further, Brian. One of the great allegations that has been made, which is totally false, was that the Goldwater group at that particular -- not the Goldwater group -- the Nixon group at that particular time indicated that we were requested to put a microphone on Nixon's campaign plane by Johnson. This never happened. In the first place, it would be almost a physical impossibility with the plane being guarded at all times. And secondly, even if you did place it on board, it would be almost a physical impossibility to have it work properly considering the unsophisticated usage of equipment at that particular time. So that's a false allegation. All it was -- we're obtaining the toll calls and reporting them to the president. Now if I may go a step further also, he asked me to do this after 7:00 one night, and I told him that'd be the wrong thing to do -- a terrible thing to do. It would lead to allegations concerning the FBI being a Gestapo waking people up, and particularly getting information from the telephone company which would become known later on and bring stigma to them. So he came back on the phone and he said, “Who do you think is your commander in chief?” And I told him -- I said, “There's no doubt in mind about what you are, but I'm trying to save you from embarrassment and also the FBI from embarrassment.” And he said, “All right, but you're going to have it in the morning.” And I did have it the next morning.
LAMB: COINTELPRO, what is that?
DeLOACH: COINTELPRO is a counterintelligence program. It was used widely against the Ku Klux Klan. It was used widely against the Communist Party. It was successful but we made mistakes in that program, and we particularly made mistakes by letting one of our assistant directors, who was under my supervision, and therefore I must bear some responsibility also, but he operated many times without the authority or the knowledge of Mr. Hoover, Clyde Tolsen and me, and as a result, we made mistakes in that regard. But it ...
LAMB: Tell me about William Sullivan.
DeLOACH: William Sullivan -- William C. Sullivan, yes.
LAMB: What year did he die?
DeLOACH: I believe it was 1973 or '4 -- 1974 I believe. He died in a hunting accident. He was shot by the son of his chief of police who thought that he heard a deer walking along a roadway in the forest.
LAMB: Are there still people to this day that suspect that that wasn't the case? I mean, that was a controversy at the time: Who shot William Sullivan?
DeLOACH: The facts are so clear that I've heard nothing indicating it was a conspiracy. But sometimes the American public is very gullible. And just like the John F. Kennedy case, the Martin Luther King assassination case, the Bobby Kennedy case -- the assassination there -- Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby. Thousands of people have made a living out of raising conspiracies concerning those cases. And yet the facts stand out in a stark manner, very factual. The evidence is overwhelming about who killed who and how did it happen and so on. But still, you have people among the American public who will believe these wild and wooly conspiracies, but you always come back full circle to the fact that Lee Harvey Oswald in the Kennedy case, James Earl Ray in the King case, and Sirhan Bishara Sirhan in the Bobby Kennedy case -- and you also come back somewhat full circle to the fact that there's a common denominator here. Each man, if you'll examine his background, wanted to go down into posterity committing the worst atrocity that he could find in order to -- well, to go down in history and to be remembered by the American public. They were loners, they wanted attention and they got it.
LAMB: This is mixing apples and oranges, but the COINTELPRO program and Martin Luther King and J. Edgar Hoover and Communists. Now I'm lumping all that together because you have a whole chapter about King vs. Hoover.
LAMB: And let me just ask you a general question. Was there a Communist influence, in your opinion, with Martin Luther King?
DeLOACH: I felt that the two individuals, whom I mention in the book -- the New York attorney by the name of Stanley Levison, who was a member of the National Committee of the Communist Party, and a fellow by the name of Odelle, who was hired by Levison...
LAMB: Jack Odelle.
DeLOACH: ... Jack Odelle, who worked with the Southern Conference Leadership group, at Levison's instructions, who had a history of being a member of the Communist Party -- that raised the taint of possible association with Dr. King or at least influence on Dr. King. Now the big allegation today, here again, is the fact that we harassed Dr. King, or Hoover harassed Dr. King by placing a wiretap on him. The wiretap was ordered by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Burke Marshall, who was the head of the the assistant attorney general in charge of the civil rights division, at that particular time stated that the wiretap was placed because Bobby Kennedy didn't know what else to do. Dr. King had been warned by President Kennedy in the Rose Garden about association with Levison and association with Odelle. Burke Marshall had talked to him. Bobby Kennedy had talked to him. But Dr. King knew that -- well, he knew the facts involved there; obviously felt that he needed these men or disbelieved the allegations concerning their Communist connections, because he kept them on regardless. Now Dr. King, himself, was not -- I have never seen anything that Dr. King, himself, was a member of the Communist Party. I feel that, in my own opinion, that Dr. King was somewhat naive politically or else he needed these men to the extent that he kept them on.
LAMB: A news conference that was held with Sarah McClendon, who is still active in this town, and Miriam Ottenberg and about 18 women...
LAMB: ... kicked off a public dispute between Martin Luther King and J. Edgar Hoover, and what was that all about? How did that happen?
DeLOACH: Brian, you know probably better than I do the influence of women in the journalistic field in Washington, DC, at the present time. The National Press Club had refused to admit women to its membership. They brought considerable pressure on the National Press Club until finally, you know, women were admitted. But they formed at that particular time the National Press Club Group of Women, an organization. And Miriam Ottenberg of the Evening Star, Sarah McClendon and other notable women reporters were on that and writers were in that group. They had tried every way in the world to gain a meeting with J. Edgar Hoover and he had turned them down until finally he couldn't turn them down anymore. He had to allow these women to see him and to allow them to question him. Well, we worked for several days -- working up what he was going to say -- facts, figures, fugitives caught, automobiles recovered, etc., etc., but they were bored. They didn't like those statistics. They could have gotten those in writing from the Annual Report or any other source -- Hoover's testimony before Congress. So Hoover, sensing that they were bored, decided to give them some startling information.
LAMB: Before you do that, how often did J. Edgar Hoover ever meet with reporters?
DeLOACH: This was the first time and also the last time, as far as I know.
DeLOACH: Yes. He met with individual female reporters from time to time.
LAMB: And individual male reporters?
DeLOACH: And individual male reporters, but this was the first and only time that I know of that he met with them.
LAMB: And you quote him saying at this point in the news conference when he thought they were bored, quote, "It is my opinion Dr. Martin Luther King is the most notorious liar in the country."
DeLOACH: That's correct. He did say that and I passed him a note. I was startled. Bob Wick, who was with me at the time -- Assistant Director Wick was with me at the time, a man that reported to me and was one of the, I think, best assistant directors we've had, and a very good man, but he rolled his eyes and he looked at me, and I looked a little startled. And I passed Director Hoover a note saying, “Don't you want to keep this off the record?” And he took the note and he balled it up and threw it in the trash. I passed him another note later on saying, “Don't you think that remarks concerning King should not leave this room?” He threw that away. The third time I passed him a note towards the conclusion of the press interview, he looked at me and he said -- no, he told the women, he said, “DeLoach just told me to keep the remarks concerning Dr. King off the record.” He said, “I refuse to do so. You may print them as I have given them to you.” Well, the women left the room like the roof was falling in. They couldn't wait to get to telephones. And that started the feud all over with Dr. King. It had quieted down considerably, but it had started up again as a result of that and it was a public relations fiasco.
LAMB: What was the dispute over? I mean, Mr. Hoover, you say, was mad about something that Martin Luther King had said.
DeLOACH: You're right, Brian. When Dr. King went to Albany, Georgia, he was going to have a campaign there insofar as integration was concerned, the admittance of blacks to restaurants, etc., etc., but he expected violence and violence, of course, gives out with a lot of publicity, causes a lot of publicity. But the chief of police at that particular time in Albany was Chief Laurie Pritchett, and Pritchett was a very experienced law enforcement officer. He was, I think, a very civic-minded man. And he'd met Dr. King with kindness, with courage. He did not use dogs or fire hoses, as the chief of police in Birmingham, Alabama, did. To the contrary, Pritchett met him with every kindness in the world. There was no publicity. Dr. King did not get funds to amount to anything in Albany, and as a result, he made a press release indicating that -- I presume to get publicity -- he made a press release indicating that agents of the FBI were seen in the company of police officers, and of the agents in Albany, Georgia -- all of them were born, reared and educated in the South, and as a result, the Afro-American or the black in Albany, Georgia, could not get a fair shake in civil rights investigations.
Well, Hoover was infuriated, and properly so, because he knew that whether an agent was born in the North or the South, they still gave equal treatment insofar as investigations in civil rights matters were concerned. But to answer your question, if I may, Hoover immediately ordered a survey of agents in the South and particularly in Albany, Georgia. He found that four of the five agents assigned to Albany that Dr. King had seen were born, reared, educated and raised in the North. And he also ordered a survey of all civil rights investigation over a 10-year period, and he found none that had been -- where the agents had been derelict or where Afro-Americans had been shortchanged in those investigations. You see, people don't understand, even today, that an FBI agent can go out and investigate a particular matter within the jurisdiction of the bureau, but that the results of that investigation must be submitted to the Department of Justice to determine whether or not prosecution shall ensue -- shall happen. So as a result, if the FBI investigates and the matter's referred to the department and the department turns it down, insofar as possible indictments or prosecution is concerned, people blame the FBI for not carrying through on it. The FBI is an investigative agency, not a prosecutive agency, and it never shall be and should be.
LAMB: How much was Martin Luther King followed and bugged and taped?
DeLOACH: As a result of Attorney General Kennedy's ordering the wiretap, having the wiretap put on Dr. King, that was used -- I don't know the full length of time it was used. The wiretap came about on as a result of approval given by previous attorneys general and I don't know how long that was on. But it was a determination to be made by the Department of Justice as to whether or not we had sufficient information to indicate Communist influence on Dr. King.
LAMB: You say that you put a bug in his hotel rooms and his sexual exploits were recorded and tapes were passed on -- how was a tape of all that passed on to his wife?
DeLOACH: That was done by William C. Sullivan. An assistant director who followed Sullivan in his office found proof of that later on and found out that Sullivan, without approval from me, from Clyde Tolsen, from Hoover, had an employee on his staff take the tape, along with a letter, which was composed, and send it to Coretta King, Mrs. King. Hoover didn't know about that. Hoover had no knowledge whatsoever of that.
LAMB: What was on the tape?
DeLOACH: Sullivan did that strictly on his own. It concerned sexual escapades which occurred here in a hotel in Washington, DC. And Sullivan had no authority to do that and no right to do it, and it shouldn't have been done. It was a sickening act on his part.
LAMB: You say that Bobby Kennedy liked listening to these tapes.
DeLOACH: Bobby Kennedy didn't -- I didn't say that Bobby Kennedy liked listening to the King tapes. I said Bobby Kennedy enjoyed listening both in Chicago and New York to wiretaps -- I beg your pardon -- microphones on members of the Mafia, the La Cosa Nostra, the mob or what have you. And he did in instances -- one time with quite a number of agents around him, and in New York with 17 agents around him, and the question was asked at that particular time by one of Kennedy's men, “Isn't this illegal?” And he said, “Yes, all the particular matters are illegal.” But he also complained about the fact that we should get new equipment rather than using the equipment that produced a wiretap -- the microphone tapes, because he said that they had static on them and, therefore, we obviously needed new equipment.
LAMB: Of all the people you worked around and the presidents you served and attorneys general and all that, who is the most principled person you worked with?
DeLOACH: I like Herbert Brownell considerably as an attorney general.
LAMB: During the Eisenhower years.
DeLOACH: Yes. And Bill Rogers, I thought he was a very good attorney general to get along with. John Mitchell was a no-nonsense man. He was later involved in the Watergate matter and went to prison as a result of it. But John Mitchell, while he was in office, was very friendly. He was, as I say, a no-nonsense man. He believed in upholding the letter of the law and he was very easy to cooperate with.
LAMB: How would you characterize your own attitude about politicians in general?
DeLOACH: I think there's a certain tenor, which is increasing today in the United States, that in order to be in politics, you also have to be hypocritical to a great extent. You have to practice yourself what you feel the tenor of the times is among the people that are going to be giving you the votes, and, therefore, you act accordingly whether you believe in it or not. I think we need to get back more to real principles in politicians to practice what they really believe in rather than what the majority believes in perhaps or what people believe in. Now what do I personally feel about it? That's my opinion.
LAMB: But you tell stories about old-timers that aren't terribly positive. I mean, what about Estes Kefauver?
DeLOACH: Estes Kefauver was scared and he was very apprehensive over the fact he was going to be killed. And...
LAMB: But you call him a drinker and a womanizer.
DeLOACH: Exactly. That was our opinion, but he wanted to be protected. He ordered an investigation to find out whether or not there was a bomb underneath his house in Tennessee and we refused to do it. It wasn't our authority to do things like that, not within our jurisdiction. Yes, I think there are very fine senators and very fine congressmen in some respects, but I think others are hypocritical to a great extent.
LAMB: How did you get into this in the first place?
DeLOACH: In the FBI?
LAMB: Yeah. Where were you at the time?
DeLOACH: I was a student in law school at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, when I heard that the eight Nazi saboteurs had been arrested by the FBI within a 72-hour period. And I thought rather than becoming a lawyer and getting on in private practice or going into the service at that particular time, like most of my classmates were going, that I would go into the FBI. And I researched the matter, I researched the facts about the organization, and thought it was a good, hard-hitting, striking organization. And it proved to be just that. Now after a year and a half in there, I had left the FBI. Well, let me be very honest about it. Hoover indicated that all agents under 24 years of age, they had no dependants, should have their 1A -- I beg your pardon, their -- their deferred status taken away from them. I knew that mine was going to be taken away so I joined the Navy. And I stayed in there for not quite two years, and I came back to the FBI after that. Brian, I wanted combat duty and I applied for it accordingly. But the Navy found out that I had played college football, I'd been an FBI agent, I'd been to law school, so I was transferred to Norman, Oklahoma, and played football and taught athletics there for a long time.
LAMB: How were you able to bring up this size of a family on an FBI man's salary?
DeLOACH: It was tough; not easy. We had to...
LAMB: How many kids?
DeLOACH: My wife is a marvelous cook. She is a marvelous handler of the family. And she deserves far more praise than I do in rearing the family.
LAMB: Any of your kids gone to be FBI agents?
DeLOACH: No, they haven't, but I have three sons that are lawyers; one's with Disney World in Orlando, Florida, another's with Valassis Incorporated as assistant general counsel in Michigan, and a third one is head of the town's legal services in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
LAMB: Your book is endorsed by Sam Divine, former congressman and FBI agent ...
LAMB: ... Jack Anderson, syndicated columnist, and Paul Harvey.
DeLOACH: Different personalities.
LAMB: Was that your idea?
DeLOACH: Yes. I've known them all very well.
LAMB: What was Mr. Anderson's relationship with Mr. Hoover?
DeLOACH: Jack Anderson and I used to have lunch together quite frequently and he would gripe about Drew Pearson and occasionally I would gripe about J. Edgar Hoover and the strict discipline. It was all on a friendship basis. Mr. Hoover did not like Jack Anderson because -- well, if I may put it crudely Mr. Hoover on one occasion referred to Jack Anderson -- after Anderson had printed a column about Hoover accepting favors from Richardson and Murchison in Texas, and Mr. Hoover was very infuriated about it, and at a Women's Press Club cocktail party, which he went to -- not an interview, but strictly a social matter, the women asked him about his opinion concerning Jack Anderson and he said, “I think he's a garbage-picking so-and-so.” Jack didn't like that, so he printed further -- and he had Hoover's garbage checked and found out that he drank Jack Daniels, that he loved peppermint ice cream and so on -- nothing derogatory. But Jack Anderson always played very square with me and reported facts properly when he called me concerning press matters, and I enjoyed dealing with him.
LAMB: Where was this picture taken and what year?
DeLOACH: Oh, J. Edgar Hoover?
DeLOACH: I believe that was taken in 1968 or '69, before I left in 1970.
LAMB: Cartha D. "Deke" DeLoach, author of "Hoover's FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant," thanks for your time.
DeLOACH: Thank you. It's a privilege to be on your show, Brian.
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