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1908 Bonaparte Testimony

Historical Documents from the Bureau's Founding

Bonaparte Asks House Appropriations Committee for Detectives, 1908

Attorney General Bonaparte testified on Friday, January 17, 1908, pp. 202-203

AG Bonaparte (AG): There is one other matter that I want to mention because it is in connection with a subject that is noted in my annual report. We are obliged, as of course the Committee knows, to rely on the secret service of the Treasury Department for certain work. They have gone up on us in price, increased their allowance from $3 to $4 per day. That is per diem for subsistence.

Chairman (C): You do not pay their compensation.

AG: Yes sir; during the time they are in our service.

C: Are they detailed from the Treasury Department to the Department of Justice?

AG: They are not detailed, we appoint them as temporary employees of the Department of Justice. I do not want to be understood as in any wise criticizing that force or saying anything about their work, they work under us very well.

C: How many have you employed during the current year?

AG: It would be difficult to say but the number would be considerable. Of course they are not employed very long…It would unquestionably be a matter of economy.

C: The reason I asked is that there is a specific appropriation for that service and…a proviso that the appropriation should be extended for no other service…

AG: …It would tend to more satisfactory administration and also to economy if instead of being obliged to call upon them for this service we had a small…service of that kind ourselves. I think the best plan would be to have a service of that kind under the control of the Department of Justice and let it, if necessary, assist other Departments in cases of emergency.

C: Have you ever employed secret service men who are engaged in that business who are not in the employ of the government?

AG: We have to employ certain special agents from time to time.

C: I mean detectives.

AG: You have to have some detective service. We do not employ detective agencies at all, but it is absolutely necessary to employ men to do that work.

C: In view of your expenses some years ago and in view of the fact that this secret service is not a continuing necessity, is it not far better when it is necessary to employ that service, that those employed by the agencies should be employed temporarily by the Department, and then when their employment by the Government ceases, they should go back to their respective agencies.

AG: The necessity, Mr. Chairman, for such employment by our Department is practically continuous in this sense, you sometimes need them in Minnesota and sometimes in Texas, and sometimes somewhere else, but you do not need a great many, and you must remember that the class of men who do not work as a profession is one you have to employ with a good deal of caution.

C: They are not always a high type of man?

AG: No Sir.

C: The force you employ in the Government are men who have acquired their efficiency in connection with the Detective Agencies, are they not?

AG: In some instances.

C: The Treasury Department does not take "green" men?

AG: In some cases. I am not informed exactly…

Hearings before the Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations …for Deficiency Appropriations for 1908 and Prior Years on Urgent Deficiency Bill, pp. 202-203