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The FBI at 100


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  • The FBI at 100


    The FBI at 100

    About 250 current and retired Miami FBI agents and others gathered Wednesday to celebrate the Bureau’s anniversary – and to remember
    Posted on Wed, Jul. 30, 2008
    [email protected]

    Bill Kelly's FBI in the 1950s had little in common with the high-tech, cyber-driven agency it is today.

    The special agent's car had no air conditioning. His walkie-talkie didn't work more than a few hundred yards from the bureau's Miami office at Biscayne Boulevard and Northeast 38th Street. There were no computers, cellphones or fancy guns.

    ''We had six-shot revolvers,'' Kelly, 82, said at a luncheon celebrating the FBI's 100th year. ``And if you missed with those six bullets, the instructor told you to throw the gun at the bad guy and get the hell out of there.''

    Kelly and about 250 current and retired Miami FBI agents, support staff and other law enforcement members shared stories about the agency's first century on Wednesday at the Rusty Pelican in Key Biscayne.

    Local police chiefs like Miami's John Timoney and Fort Lauderdale's Frank Adderley attended the luncheon, as did federal law enforcement officials like R. Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for South Florida.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation started as a 34-man corps of investigators appointed by then-U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte on July 26, 1908. Today, the FBI employs about 30,000 people, including 12,000 special agents, in field offices throughout the world.

    Kelly came to Miami as a special agent in 1959 and investigated airplane hijackings, jewelry thefts, human trafficking, Watergate and obscenity crimes before retiring in 1980.

    An Irishman fluent in Spanish, Kelly also was assigned to track Fidel Castro's operatives in Miami. They used to hang out at a restaurant in front of the old federal courthouse that had a huge portrait of Castro on a wall, he said. One day in 1960, some anti-Castro Miamians stormed in and fired a submachine gun and pistol at Castro's portrait.

    ''They fired 27 .45-caliber bullets, and -- guess what? -- they missed,'' Kelly said. ``They didn't even hit the picture's frame.''

    Kelly worked for a time with Special Agent Terry Nelson, who came to the Miami field office in 1972 to monitor the Republican and Democratic national conventions. One of his first memories, Nelson said, was seeing a limousine in his office's parking lot.

    ''I was told it was Jackie Gleason's limo, and he gives it to [former FBI Director J. Edgar] Hoover when Hoover was in town,'' Nelson said.

    Another quirk of the Hoover era, Nelson remembered, was that every FBI employee had to clean his or her desk promptly at 4:45 p.m. each workday.

    'People always ask me, `What was the FBI like?' '' Nelson said. ``And I always respond that it wasn't just a job, it was a way of life. The camaraderie and the teamwork -- those things haven't changed.''

    The bureau's focus has changed over time from investigating gangsters and organized crime to domestic and international terrorism. Its investigative efforts also have focused on espionage, public corruption, bank robberies and drug trafficking.

    ''Since 9/11, the FBI has adapted, changed and stayed ahead of the game to combat the crimes that permeate our world today,'' Wayne Carter, Miami-Dade County's assistant director of constituent services, said during a proclamation presentation on behalf of the county.

    Chief Timoney praised the FBI and Jonathan Solomon, special agent in charge of the Miami office, for keeping a solid working relationship with Miami police investigators.

    ''I know the bureau will go on to greater glory,'' Kelly said. ``And I hope many of you will still be alive to celebrate 150 years.''
    Have you guys worked w/ the FBI (good,bad,ugly)?...Do any of you plan on working w/ the FBI?..Also any thoughts,suggestion on how they can improve,comments about the FBI?...
    Last edited by Southflaguy; 07-31-2008, 12:28 AM.

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