Eliot Ness the myth, the legend, the lie

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Illinois Senators Mark Kirk and Dick Durbin joined Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown on a resolution to rename the Federal Alcohol, Tobbacco, and Firearms Headquarters in Washington D.C. after alleged crime fighter, Eliot Ness.

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Eliot Ness (Chicago Tribune)

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Ness was "the Prohibition-era crime fighter whose unit brought down Al Capone" and "His work helped indict Capone with more than 5,000 Prohibition violations."

History is not a strong point at the Chicago Sun Times or the United States Senate.

There are well researched historical accounts of Ness and Capone that debunk the tall tales of Eliot Ness.

Al Capone was brought down by Elmer Irey, Frank Wilson, and the IRS, not Eliot Ness. From historical accounts, except for some self aggrandizing raids, Ness had very little to do with bringing down Al Capone.

Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion. All prohibition charges were dropped at trial.

Worse, Al Capone's legal rights under criminal and civil law during the IRS investigation and subsequent trial were severely violated. These rights violations were assisted by, some say purposeful, erroneous rulings of trial judge, James Herbert Wilkerson.

Historical and legal historical accounts showed Capone should never have been convicted. That is not saying Capone was innocent.

Getting Capone off the streets was of paramount importance to President Herbert Hoover, the Chicago Outfit, and Chicago politicians. None were in a conspiracy or partnership, but acting separately for their own political or self interest, getting Capone was the mission.

Historical accounts show Capone had ineffective legal counsel, possibly purposeful. Capone tried to settle with the IRS before he was indicted. Unlike others in the same situation, especially organized criminals, Capone's generous settlement offers were denied.

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Al Capone (Chicago Tribune)

Eliot Ness was a legend in his own mind. He wrote a book about his "legendary" career in Chicago. The legend was fabricated. Oscar Fraley, the co-author, fictionalized much of the story.

The television series and movies took Fraley's fabrications and created a false mythical aura around Ness.

To Al Capone, Ness was nothing more than an annoyance. Ness had little impact on Capone's illicit business activities. Eliot Ness was a shameless self promoter. Promotion and action bearing results are two different things.

In Ohio, where Ness moved after leaving Chicago, he was even more ineffective on the level of a bumbler. Sherrod Brown, the Senator from Ohio, should know this.

There are plenty of people who worked for ATF and its previous incarnations who deserve a building named after them. Some are genuine heroes who made real sacrifices.

Eliot Ness, the myth, the legend, the lie, should not be one of them.

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