Episode 237: Paul Letersky – Assisting J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO 

Former agent Paul Letersky served in the FBI for eight years, three as a support employee and five as a special agent. He was assigned to the Cincinnati and former Alexandria Divisions working murders, aircraft hijackings, shoot-outs, bank robberies, extortion, presidential politics, confidential informants, and con men.

In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Paul Letersky reviews his memoir, The Director: My Years Assisting J. Edgar Hoover, in which he offers a unique inside look at one of the most powerful law enforcement figures in American history. In 1965, twenty-two-year-old Paul Letersky was assigned to assist the legendary FBI Director Hoover who’d just turned seventy and had, by then, led the Bureau for an incredible forty-one years. His is a rare account from someone who, for a period of years, daily spent hours with the Director.

Paul resigned from the Bureau when United Airlines recruited Paul to join their law department. He headed a team responsible for investigating criminal and civil actions directed at the airline, to include the “Unabomber” attack on the company’s president. He became a vice president of Pan American World Airways in charge of five global divisions. Paul is currently on the faculty of Tillamook Bay Community College in Tillamook, Oregon, as an Adjunct Professor and Coordinator of their Criminal Justice Program.

During the interview, Paul mentioned an airplane hijacking case he worked on. You can listen to the FBI Retired Case File Review episode about the case here: Episode 163: Jim Siano and Tom Baker – Mackle Kidnapping, Airplane Hijacking.

Special Agent (Former)

Paul Letersky

1965 – 1973

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I have no reason to defend Hoover. I have no reason to grant sainthood on him. I was just writing what I feel, and what I saw, and what I heard.”—Former Agent Paul Letersky

The following links are for FBI website and news article about FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Helen Gandy, and Hoover’s secret files:

FBI Website:  J. Edgar Hoover’s “Official & Confidential” Files

Washington Post – 11/9/2011: Five myths about J. Edgar Hoover

New York Times – 12/2/1975: Secretary Says She Destroyed Hoover’s Letters on His Orders

TIME – 7/22/2021: Working for J. Edgar Hoover, I Saw His Worst Excesses and Best Intentions

To listen to more FBI Retired Case File Review episodes featuring Director Hoover click here.

Paul Letersky Assisting J. Edgar Hoover
Photo of Paul Letersky and Hoover taken during the time Paul was a clerk assisting J. Edgar Hoover in the director’s front office.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Helen Gandy was Hoover’s executive assistant for 54 years. She thought of Paul as the son or grandson she never had.

 

 

The Director, My Years Assisting J. Edgar Hoover
Paul’s rare account of his time working directly for and interacting daily with Director J. Edgar Hoover, for a period of years. Buy it here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 200 episodes available for free subscription on all popular podcast apps.

4 Comments

  1. Jan BurchfieldAugust 12, 2021

    Bought the book immediately after listening. As a former clerk in the FBI in Washington in 1974-75, this is all fascinating! Thank you Jerri!

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsAugust 13, 2021

      Thanks for listening!

      Reply
  2. Lee GordonJuly 29, 2021

    Paul makes a point about discrimination related to conscription during the Vietnam War. The point he makes resonates with me as I had probably one of my biggest and most bitter arguments ever with my father about that issue. I thought it was an obvious point, but my father didn’t, or refused, to get it. My brother was old enough to be drafted so he went to college and I’m sure it gave my father and the rest of the family relief. But that doesn’t make it right. And the War certainly was not right. Being college-bound clearly favored whites. The hypocrisy and overall failure of the white establishment is beyond disgraceful. Even Johnson pined away his later life ruing his horrible decisions regarding Vietnam. I am really looking forward to reading Paul’s book.

    Reply
    1. Jerri WilliamsJuly 29, 2021

      It’s an issue related to race and money. I appreciate your and Paul’s acknowledgement of this fact. Thank you for listening.

      Reply

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