Majority Leader Hale Boggs Turns on Hoover

House Majority Leader Hale Boggs took the floor of the House to deliver a speech that created a major stir in Washington for several weeks. Declaring that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was incompetent and senile, and charging that the FBI had, under Hoover’s most recent years adopted “the tactics of the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Gestapo”; Boggs demanded Hoover’s immediate resignation. Boggs also charged that he had discovered that certain FBI agents had tapped his own telephone as well as the phones of certain other members of the House and Senate. In his emotional House speech, Boggs went on to say Attorney General Mitchell says he is a law and order man. If law and order means the suppression of the Bill of Rights… then I say “God help us.”

As the Washington Post noted, “The Louisiana Democrat’s speech was the harshest criticism of Hoover ever heard in the House… It was the first attack on Hoover by any member of the House leadership.”

At the time, Boggs’ startling speech created a sensation in Washington. Observers were uncertain as to his exact motivations in demanding Hoover’s resignation, and there was an immediate critical reaction from Hoover’s various defenders. It has been reported that sources within the FBI and the Attorney General’s office began spreading stories that Boggs was a hopeless alcoholic. However, it was not until almost four years later that the motivation behind Boggs’ outburst came into clearer focus.

Boggs was leaked information from by Colson damning Mitchell. The information was transcripts of wiretaps that had been planted on Shirley Chisolm’s phone. Boggs was handed the conversation he had with her. Boggs was told the FBI was spying — the bugs had been planted by the Plumbers

April 5, 1971