||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2010)|
|Cartha "Deke" DeLoach|
July 20, 1920|
|Died||March 13, 2013
Hilton Head Island, SC
|Known for||assistant director of the FBI|
Cartha Dekle "Deke" DeLoach (July 20, 1920 – March 13, 2013) was deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, in which post he was the third most senior official in the FBI after J. Edgar Hoover and Clyde Tolson.
DeLoach was born in Claxton, Georgia. He attended Gordon Military College, South Georgia College and Stetson University. He was a child when his father died, and he was working in cotton and tobacco fields by the time he was 10.
It was in 1942 that DeLoach joined the FBI, where he would spend most of his career. In 1965 Hoover promoted him to the job of deputy director of the bureau. DeLoach was involved in the investigation of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and in a memorandum sent to Tolson, DeLoach claimed that President Lyndon Johnson "felt the CIA had something to do with the plot" to kill President Kennedy.
DeLoach, who was the third-ranking official at the FBI under Hoover, and briefed Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon on the bureau’s activities, was the last surviving member of Hoover’s inner circle. He was, in many ways, the classic agent — a former college football player, a keeper of secrets and a Hoover loyalist to the end. “On the positive side, he was very smart, he had an incredible memory and was totally well informed about the FBI and J. Edgar Hoover’s activities,” Ronald Kessler, author of The Secrets of the FBI and other books about American national administration, said in an interview. “On the negative side, he was used by Hoover to further Hoover’s agenda.”
Opponents sometimes thought of DeLoach as Hoover’s henchman, possessing salacious secrets that could silence the FBI’s enemies. In the 1960s, when the bureau engaged in surveillance of political figures and suspected dissidents, DeLoach was “a courier to the White House of the juicy gleanings from the FBI,” in the words of Time magazine.
DeLoach helped burnish the bureau’s public image throughout the 1960s. He played a bigger role than any other FBI official in arranging a deal with Hollywood mogul Jack Warner for a network television series about the FBI; and he himself would assess the scripts before production. The ABC series The FBI began in 1965 and ran for several years.
Preferring to avoid being well known to the general public, DeLoach could nevertheless match Hoover on occasion in delivering fiery anti-communist speeches. He often had daily meetings with Johnson (the president to whom he was always closest), and, as early as 1965, was seen as the heir apparent to Hoover as director of the FBI. But things did not work out thus; Hoover showed not the slightest interest in retiring from the job which he had held since 1924. He was still serving as FBI director when he died at age 77 in 1972.
According to DeLoach’s son Tom, his father turned down three offers to be director of the FBI — one by Johnson and two when Nixon was president. “Under President Nixon, Attorney General Richard Kleindienst made that offer twice,” Tom DeLoach said. “He found it easier to turn down an attorney general. It might have been different if the president had asked.”
DeLoach retired from the bureau in 1970, on his 50th birthday. According to a syndicated column that year by Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, there was some relief within the FBI at DeLoach's departure, because DeLoach was considered there to be guilty of “right-wing bias and blatant opportunism.”
In the 1970s, DeLoach confirmed to The Washington Post the existence of the FBI’s domestic spying program. Among other things, the FBI had tapes of Martin Luther King’s bedroom encounters with women other than his wife. Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) called the revelations “outrageous” and said the FBI’s snooping “goes to the heart of the separation of powers.”
Several journalists said DeLoach had offered to reveal the tapes in an effort to discredit King in the 1960s, but DeLoach always denied ever having made such offers. He said the FBI investigated King only to determine if the civil rights movement had been infiltrated by communists. “Everything was initiated by Hoover,” Kessler said.
Nonetheless, when it came to old-fashioned crime fighting, few could find fault with DeLoach. He was instrumental in developing a nationwide computerized crime database, now known as National Crime Information Center, or NCIC.
He helped lead the FBI’s investigation of the killings of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in 1964. After King was assassinated in 1968, DeLoach personally directed the investigation that led to the dramatic and internationally publicized arrest of James Earl Ray.
Soon after his graduation in 1942, DeLoach joined the FBI. He had assignments in Norfolk and Cleveland before serving in the Navy during the later stages of World War II. In 1946 he returned to the FBI; he was assigned to the Washington headquarters a year later.
He began working in 1953 with deputy director Clyde Tolson, the No. 2 official at the FBI and Hoover’s closest friend and confidant. Thereafter DeLoach had jobs in the crime-records and communications divisions until the early 1960s, and had an office near Hoover’s. In later interviews, DeLoach sometimes said Hoover considered him “the son he never had.”
After leaving the FBI, DeLoach worked as vice-president of corporate affairs for PepsiCo, Inc. From 1985 onward, DeLoach lived in Hilton Head Island, where he was chairman of a banking company and the chief fundraiser for an arts center.
DeLoach published a book about his experiences and about the FBI in general: Hoover’s FBI: The Inside Story by J. Edgar Hoover’s Trusted Lieutenant, in 1995. Some years before that book appeared, allegations surfaced that Hoover not only dressed in women's clothing but had a homosexual relationship with Tolson (who had died in 1975). In a 1993 interview on CNN’s “Larry King Live,” DeLoach condemned the accusations as “third-handed gossip, innuendo, lies, deceit” and “a pile of garbage.” He discussed the question again in Hoover's FBI, and again (but this time in greater detail) dismissed the charges as having no basis.
- Simmons, Dorothy (1999). A History of Evans County, Georgia. The Evans County Historical Society.
- Booknotes interview with DeLoach on Hoover's FBI: The Inside Story by Hoover's Trusted Lieutenant, August 20, 1995.
- Remembering ‘Deke’ DeLoach, FBI