How J. Edgar Hoover Set The Stage For NSA Surveillance | KUOW News and Information

How J. Edgar Hoover Set The Stage For NSA Surveillance

Aug 8, 2013

J. Edgar Hoover in 1916. Eight years later, Hoover would revolutionize surveillance using new techniques learned at the Library of Congress, where systems similar to the Dewey Decimal system were creating a revolution in data management.
Credit Courtesy of FBI

Edward Snowden's revelations about the scope of US government surveillance programs took many people by surprise. But the federal government has been tracking people's personal information for a long time.

Surveillance really took off in 1919. That's when a young Department of Defense lawyer named J. Edgar Hoover was tapped to head a brand new division of the department: the Radical Division. Hoover was only 24 years old at the time.

Historian Beverly Gage is writing a biography of Hoover. Today on KUOW Presents Brian Balogh asks her: Why Hoover? What qualified this young upstart to take over the government surveillance of radicals?

Full list of stories on KUOW Presents, August 8: