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Ex-FBI Special Agent Mike German discusses his new book, Disrupt Discredit and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy.German is a fellow in the Liberty and National Security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU law school. He spent 16 years as an FBI agent, and shares an insider view and thoughtful criticisms of the Bureau’s direction since 9/11.
In this hour-long conversation, we start with recent news that the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and San Francisco Police Dept. have lied about their collaboration since San Francisco dropped out of the JTTF a few years ago. We reference this article by Ryan Deveraux, with quotes from German.
German points out that many JTTF operations target First Amendment nonviolent protesters, at the same time the FBI is failing to counter violent white nationalists and has a misplaced focus on “black identity” groups.
We recount the FBI’s muscular approach after 9/11 under Director Robert Mueller, and touch on a number of scandals and wrongful prosecutions on his watch, including the Sibel Edmonds whistleblower case, the abuse of National Security Letters with gag orders, and the excessive secrecy that reached comical levels in the Al Haramain case. German notes that, before becoming FBI Director, Mueller ran the BCCI investigation, which led the Wall Street Journal to oppose his confirmation. We also discuss Mueller’s role in the Trump/Russia investigation.
German explains how the FBI has changed since he joined in 1988, reverting to some of the dark days of Cointelpro and j. Edgar Hoover. He comments on the investigations of agent misconduct, which almost always lead to exoneration, and on the ongoing use of sting operations to entrap so-called “domestic terrorism” suspects.
You can follow Mike German on Twitter, @rethinkintel