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The Battle Over the Hoover Legacy Includes the Naming of The New FBI Headquarters

Director Hoover receives the National Security Medal from President Dwight Eisenhower on May 27, 1955, as then-Vice President Richard Nixon and others look on.  (FBI photo)

Director Hoover receives the National Security Medal from President Dwight Eisenhower on May 27, 1955, as then-Vice President Richard Nixon and others look on. (FBI photo)

By Allan Lengel
For ABC News.com

A debate is brewing inside the Beltway and beyond, pitting some current and retired FBI agents against one another in a fight over the legacy of J. Edgar Hoover and whether the name of the Bureau’s first and most controversial director should grace the FBI’s proposed new $1.8 billion headquarters.

For more than 40 years since Hoover’s death a debate has raged about how to remember the man — as an anti-crime and national security hero, a civil liberties-squashing villain or something in between — and new interviews conducted by ABC News show that even among current and former agents and officials, there’s widely varying opinions on Hoover and the naming of the new headquarters.

“Hoover would have never let me become an agent because I’m a woman and Jewish,” a former FBI agent, who now works in private industry, told ABC News. “He did a lot of things he shouldn’t have done because he was given absolute power. He did a lot of hateful things. I would not like to see his name on the building.”

“He is being unfairly demonized,” said Gregg Schwarz, a retired FBI agent who goes a couple times a year to spruce up Hoover’s grave at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington. “Anybody can look back in history and judge by today’s standards and criticize everything. Everyone seems to forget all his hard, hard work.”

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