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Science, Restraint, and J. Edgar Hoover: Building and Maintaining the FBI Brand, 1933 to 1972
Unformatted Document Text:  Cecil,  Tiernan,  Koroglu  —  Science,  Restraint,  and  J.  Edgar  Hoover    —   19   the Bureau’s brand signifiers of responsibility and utility and led to a U.S. Senate inquiry into law enforcement methods. Nebraska Senator George Norris wrote to Attorney General Robert H. Jackson expressing his concern about the FBI’s conduct. Norris repeated the charges of prisoner mistreatment the press had reported. He noted that by the time of the arrests, the Spanish Civil War was over and the accused, “were not criminals; there was no reason to believe that any of them would try to escape. They were not charged with an offense that had any odium attached to it; and yet they were treated as if they were well-known to be criminals of the lowest type.” lx Hoover responded by demonizing, without identifying, his enemies, accusing them of a coordinated smear campaign against the FBI by anti-American forces. In a series of speeches to conservative groups, Hoover drew clear lines between his critics and his supporters. In so doing, he emphasized differences between those who adhered to the FBI brand and those who did not, essentially highlighting the bounds of the interpretive community expressed by Bureau branding efforts. His critics were “international confidence men,” “conspiring Communists, their fellow travelers, mouthpieces and stooges,” and made up a “fifth column,” bent on destroying the nation that Hoover’s restrained agents and their dispassionate, scientific law enforcement techniques were protecting. lxi Hoover had used his iconic status in society to turn a direct challenge to the FBI brand into a triumphant restatement of that brand, no doubt enhancing his organization’s social capital in the process. This counterpunching style of clarifying the boundaries separating those who related to the FBI’s symbolism and those who did not characterized the Bureau’s response to

Authors: Cecil, Matthew., Tiernan, Jennifer. and Koroglu, Didem.
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Cecil,  Tiernan,  Koroglu  —  Science,  Restraint,  and  J.  Edgar  Hoover    —   19  
the Bureau’s brand signifiers of responsibility and utility and led to a U.S. Senate inquiry 
into law enforcement methods. 
Nebraska Senator George Norris wrote to Attorney General Robert H. Jackson 
expressing his concern about the FBI’s conduct. Norris repeated the charges of prisoner 
mistreatment the press had reported. He noted that by the time of the arrests, the Spanish 
Civil War was over and the accused, “were not criminals; there was no reason to believe 
that any of them would try to escape. They were not charged with an offense that had any 
odium attached to it; and yet they were treated as if they were well-known to be criminals 
of the lowest type.”
lx
 
Hoover responded by demonizing, without identifying, his enemies, accusing them of 
a coordinated smear campaign against the FBI by anti-American forces. In a series of 
speeches to conservative groups, Hoover drew clear lines between his critics and his 
supporters. In so doing, he emphasized differences between those who adhered to the FBI 
brand and those who did not, essentially highlighting the bounds of the interpretive 
community expressed by Bureau branding efforts. His critics were “international 
confidence men,” “conspiring Communists, their fellow travelers, mouthpieces and 
stooges,” and made up a “fifth column,” bent on destroying the nation that Hoover’s 
restrained agents and their dispassionate, scientific law enforcement techniques were 
protecting.
lxi
 Hoover had used his iconic status in society to turn a direct challenge to the 
FBI brand into a triumphant restatement of that brand, no doubt enhancing his 
organization’s social capital in the process. 
This counterpunching style of clarifying the boundaries separating those who related 
to the FBI’s symbolism and those who did not characterized the Bureau’s response to 


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