Any day I expect Post editors and Herblock to blame J. Edgar Hoover for the Iran-contra debacle, the Black Monday stock market plunge and Vice President Bush's TV clash with Dan Rather.

As an ex-FBI agent, I deplore your continuing campaign to smear Hoover, especially your search-and-destroy mentality of injecting his name into current FBI problems that cannot possibly be linked to him {editorial, Jan. 26; Herblock cartoon, Jan. 28}. I submit that the FBI's employment of blacks when Hoover died in 1972 compares favorably with records of similar agencies and even that of The Washington Post.

If press reports of Agent Donald Rochon's case are true, I fully agree that those responsible should be summarily fired. But you and Herblock ignored one searing truth: the alleged abuse of Rochon did not occur during Hoover's watch. Why then did you reach back 16 years and begin your statement by blaming Hoover, and why did Herblock, in his sketch, ink in a scowling portrait of Director Hoover when five other men have since served in that post?

Until his recent move to the CIA, Judge William Webster directed the FBI during Rochon's time in the agency. So, those of us not trained in journalistic objectivity and guided by canons of ethics assume a reference to Webster, not Hoover, would have been more appropriate. In more than 24 years of service under Hoover, I never saw or heard of any racial-ethnic incidents involving FBI co-workers or others.

Yet, based on The Post's standards for receiving a good press, we can only conclude that Hoover made two mistakes: 1) He spent too much time directing the fight against crime and subversion and maintaining stern disciplinary measures to ensure that FBI employees respected the rights of all people, including co-workers. 2) He did not spend enough time hobnobbing with Washington's social elite, including media officials, at catered receptions and on private tennis courts. -- Ben Fulton