By Gerald Petievich
J. Edgar Hoover, head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1961. The reviews are mixed about Clint Eastwood's new movie about J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime, controversial director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. As you may have noticed, the advertising for the film and all the reviews are consumed with the question of whether Hoover was a closeted homosexual. The truth is, no one knows because there is no reliable evidence that Hoover was gay.
The Soviet KGB began spreading disinformation about J Edgar Hoover's sexual proclivities in the 1960s. These included claims that Hoover was a gay cross-dresser. The fact is that in the well-regarded history book, The Sword And The Shield - The Mitrokhin Archive And The Secret History Of The KGB, authors Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, point out that like the CIA, the FBI was a major target of KGB disinformation operations and that, until his death in 1972, many of these measures were directed against J Edgar Hoover.
The KGB's "Service A" forged letters under Hoover's name to portray him to be in league with the ultra-right-wing John Birch Society and to depict the head of the US passport office as a secret FBI agent whose loyalty was to Hoover rather than to the Secretary of State. This type of attack is engaged in by all state-sponsored intelligence services. Disinformation and offensive counterintelligence is cheap and frequently very effective. In this day and age, when the majority of people believe in ghosts and that JFK was killed by members of a coup, they also work well for movie plots.
In the case of the allegation against J. Edgar Hoover, the Soviet lie was based on a lie from a convicted perjurer, Susan Rosenstiel, who claimed to have seen Hoover in drag. Yes it is true Hoover had no known girlfriends. But Hoover's loyal number 3 man at the FBI "Deke" DeLoach stated that Hoover was just extremely cold and aloof rather than being gay. Whether J. Edgar was gay should have nothing to do with how he is perceived in history. But the question itself and the fact that the rumor is widely accepted in this country is more evidence that we are living in a cult of personality and that people are losing their ability to use critical thinking.
As far as the motion picture itself, the director Clint Eastwood and his screenwriter have the right to put forward any theory they want about J. Edgar Hoover or anyone else for that matter - even though the basis for their story stems from a Soviet disinformation operation designed to harm the United States during the Cold War.
Whether Clint Eastwood or Leonardo DiCaprio would like such a movie made about them is another question.