SOCIAL SCIENCES

Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy

New Pr. Sept. 2019. 352p. notes. ISBN 9781620973790. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781620973806. POL SCI
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After September 11, 2001, the primary mission of the FBI changed from fighting crime to protecting against terrorist attacks. The Bureau had a history of promoting fear of immigrants, Communists, and other supposedly dangerous outsiders. Today, former undercover FBI agent and whistleblower German argues the FBI is at the zenith of its powers, using concerns about national security and counterterrorism to target outsiders but failing to observe American guarantees of due process and free speech. FBI mismanagement in the early aughts, German explains, led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as FBI director, who was confirmed unanimously one week before the 9/11 attacks. But Mueller changed little. General harassment of Muslim communities, attacks on black, Native American, and Asian American organizations as well as “eco-terrorists” sparked fear and stigma while neo-Nazi groups and other white extremists garnered little attention. The Bureau amassed useless information for examination by inexperienced agents while internal experts were ignored. American atrocities against prisoners put American soldiers at risk and alienated allies. Instead of imposing constraints, Congress endorsed FBI tactics; the USA Patriot Act gave the FBI more authority with fewer limits. This indictment, which German supports with much evidence, is disturbing but not likely unsurprising for most informed readers.

VERDICT Suitable for adults interested in politics and law enforcement reform.

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