Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy
A powerful argument against idealizing the F.B.I. and overlooking its troubling record for the sake of short-term political convenience.
--The New York Times Book Review
A former FBI undercover agent and whistleblower gives us a riveting and troubling account of the contemporary FBI--essential reading for our times
Impressively researched and eloquently argued, former special agent Mike German's Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide tells the story of the transformation of the FBI after the 9/11 attacks from a law enforcement agency, made famous by prosecuting organized crime and corruption in business and government, into arguably the most secretive domestic intelligence agency America has ever seen.
German shows how FBI leaders exploited the fear of terrorism in the aftermath of 9/11 to shed the legal constraints imposed on them in the 1970s in the wake of Hoover-era civil rights abuses. Empowered by the Patriot Act and new investigative guidelines, the bureau resurrected a discredited theory of terrorist radicalization and adopted a disruption strategy that targeted Muslims, foreigners, and communities of color, and tarred dissidents inside and outside the bureau as security threats, dividing American communities against one another. By prioritizing its national security missions over its law enforcement mission, the FBI undermined public confidence in justice and the rule of law. Its failure to include racist, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and xenophobic violence committed by white nationalists within its counterterrorism mandate only increased the perception that the FBI was protecting the powerful at the expense of the powerless.
Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide is an engaging and unsettling contemporary history of the FBI and a bold call for reform, told by a longtime counterterrorism undercover agent who has become a widely admired whistleblower and a critic for civil liberties and accountable government.
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Praise for Disrupt, Discredit, Divide
"German's book is ultimately a powerful argument against idealizing the F.B.I. and overlooking its troubling record for the sake of short-term political convenience."
--Rosa Brooks, The New York Times Book Review
"The real story in Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide is German's methodical and damning account of a powerful American institution chronically failing to live up to its mission. The book comes at a critical moment."
"A well-documented exposé explaining how 9/11 transformed the FBI. . . . Important reading for our current time, especially as the Mueller Report continues to circulate."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Former FBI special agent German's impassioned polemic raises the alarm about the negative impact of the FBI's evolution from a crime fighting organization into a domestic intelligence agency. . . . German's experiences as an undercover agent provide a unique insight into . . . [and raise] some valuable questions about the primary role of this key government agency."
"Mike German's critical insight into the initiatives taken up by the FBI in the aftermath of 9/11 is akin to none. His reputable expertise has time and time again provided my office with insight not only as a witness testifying before Congress, but also from an advisory position on legislative initiatives. Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide is the truth we need."
--Representative Karen Bass (CA-37), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus
"Few institutions have shaped recent American history as fundamentally as the FBI. As this fascinating and urgent book confirms, no one is more qualified than Mike German to tell this history and help us learn from it."
--Jameel Jaffer, director, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, and editor of The Drone Memos: Targeted Killing, Secrecy, and the Law
"Mike German is an amazing storyteller and writer who can make complex and intricate issues seem suddenly clear and comprehensible whilst losing none of their nuance. He is also a deeply principled man, [someone] whose ability to reflect on the actions of the agency he was a part of, as well as catching and stopping actual criminals, makes his a compelling voice in this ominous moment of resurgent white nationalism."
--Daniel Radcliffe, actor, Imperium (story by Mike German and Daniel Ragussis)
"Mike German served as an FBI agent who carried out dangerous assignments infiltrating violent white nationalist organizations. Now, having resigned, he tells how the bureau has downgraded such efforts. An absorbing and interesting read and a useful warning."
--Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., author of Democracy in the Dark and chief counsel of the Church Committee
"Ex-FBI agent Mike German's excellent new book offers an exhaustively researched, definitive account of the current state of the country's preeminent law enforcement agency."
--Norm Stamper, former Seattle police chief and author of Breaking Rank and To Protect and Serve