By Chester D. Campbell
I’ve encountered zillions of people during my sixty years in the writing business, but none more intriguing than an ex-FBI agent we’ll call Scotty. I first met him during my days of editing Nashville Magazine. He was a friend of one of my equally intriguing staff members. She would relate stories about him that sounded a bit off the wall but still believable.
After a few years, she asked me to meet with him at her place one night to talk about a book he wanted me to co-write. We talked for hours and the strange tale unfolded.
Scotty went to Washington just out of school and got a job as a clerk at the FBI. He worked there while getting a degree in accounting. According to his story, he got close to Director J. Edgar Hoover in the process, often delivering files to the director's home. After graduation, he took the FBI training course and became an agent.
At some point, he was assigned to the Nashville office, which is how my magazine staffer met him. This was during the Cold War, and she reported some suspicious activity she encountered. Scotty met her on assignment. But back to his story.
Scotty was chosen to participate in a small group of agents known as Hoover’s Goon Squad. They were tasked to do jobs that were not exactly in the rule book. That included assignments outside the country for counterespionage, something that should have been in the CIA’s bailiwick. But, as Scotty said, the CIA was ignoring the Bureau’s sole jurisdiction in the U.S. Records of the operations were buried in a special group of restricted safes known as the T Files.
One of the weird stories he told was of an agent who was sent out to Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah to pick up a package containing a chemical compound for use in some kind of skullduggery. They figured the guy must have gotten curious and opened the package. He was found a day or so later wandering naked around a little town in the Provo area, babbling like the village idiot.
Scotty said Hoover and Asst. Director Bill Sulllivan picked him to try to infiltrate the Cosa Nostra, a favorite Hoover target they had been unable to crack. First he had to resign from the FBI. He was instructed to commit a few crimes like bank robbery to build some bona fides, but not get caught. He said it was easy. Then he hung out in Las Vegas and tried to weasel his way into the mob but was never successful.
When he gave up and went back to report to Hoover, the man he had idolized all those years, the director refused to see him. Apparently Hoover had written him off and didn’t want to admit what they had done.
The last I heard of Scotty, he was trying to get copies of his personal files from the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. He sent me copies of his correspondence, including a request for $50 to cover duplication at ten cents per page. That was in March of 1985. We never made it to the point of putting anything down on paper. I had contact with his friend in later years and heard that Scotty had died. She died not long after that, and the strange saga ended. But it would have made one hell of a story.
I used Scotty as the model for the protagonist in the first novel I wrote after retirement. It was a post-Cold War thriller, which went out of vogue about the time I sent it to an agent. I may resurrect it one of these days and try again.