Q&A with Author Ronald Kessler
Why did you write this book?
I love to uncover secrets about subjects like the FBI, CIA, or Secret Service. I’ve always been aware that even though the FBI becomes involved in everything from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and congressional scandals to the confirmation of Supreme Court justices, very little ever gets out about what agents uncover in the course of their investigations. The Secrets of the FBI is a vehicle for revealing that privileged information. What was the most surprising thing you found?
I could not believe that the FBI gave me the inside story on how it breaks into homes, offices, and embassies to plant bugging devices without getting caught. Along with names of terrorism and Mafia informants, this is the most sensitive, closely guarded information the FBI has. Many high-ranking FBI agents were shocked as well. It’s the most riveting story I’ve uncovered in my journalism career. What other secrets will readers find in this book?
What triggered Vince Foster’s suicide. Who secretly visited Marilyn Monroe just before she took her own life. What J. Edgar Hoover’s sexual orientation was. Who actually uncovered Robert Hanssen as a spy, contrary to the story line of the movie “Breach.” Why the FBI could not match Osama bin Laden’s fingerprints after he was killed. When planting bugs in the homes and offices of Mafia figures, spies, and terrorists, how FBI agents tranquilize dogs, stage fake traffic accidents, and instruct police to stop occupants who try to return. How did you get FBI agents to talk?
Usually I would waterboard them! Actually, I’ve developed a track record that engenders trust. In addition, agents figure I already know a lot. While it doesn’t seem to require much skill, people also say I am a good listener. Photos from Inside The Secrets of the FBI
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy borrowed the personal car of William Simon, special agent in charge of the Los Angeles field office, to secretly see Marilyn Monroe just before her suicide.—AP Photo
For twelve years, FBI Executive Assistant Director Louis E. Grever was what he calls a "government-sanctioned burglar," planting bugs in homes and offices of Mafia figures, terrorists, corrupt members of Congress, spies, and foreign intelligence officers. If caught, he could have been shot as an intruder.—FBI Photo
FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, at right, had a spousal relationship with his deputy, Clyde Tolson. He vacationed with him and left his estate to him.—AP Photo
Karl Koecher, a mole in the CIA, and his wife Hana attended sex orgies to obtain information for the KGB until the FBI arrested them for espionage and sent them back to Prague.—Ronald Kessler Photo