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Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide

How the New FBI Damages Democracy

Past: Thursday, September 12, 2019 6:00 pm
NYU, Washington DC
  • Mike German
  • Kimberly Atkins
Brennan Center Live - Mike German and Kimberly Atkins

The events of 9/11 transformed life in the United States as we knew it—and with it, U.S. law enforcement, especially the FBI. After the attacks, the FBI, once made famous by prosecuting organized crime and corruption, shifted its focus to the disruption of terrorist activity. The problem: their strategy relies upon the discredited theory of “radicalization.” By targeting Muslims, foreigners, communities of color, and dissidents, the FBI pitted American communities against one another. And it ignored the threat of white nationalist violence.

In his new book, Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide, Brennan Center Fellow and former FBI special agent Michael German details the transformation of the FBI from a law enforcement body into a secretive domestic intelligence agency. For 16 years, German served in the FBI and twice infiltrated extremist groups using constitutionally sound law enforcement techniques. 

German will examine the direction the agency has taken since 9/11 and its effect on public life and civil liberties. How did the Patriot Act alter the role and structure of the FBI? What are the dangers of ignoring white nationalist terrorism? What changes are needed to protect national security while respecting constitutional rights?

Michael German, Brennan Center Liberty & National Security fellow; former FBI Special Agent; author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy

Kimberly Atkins, Senior Washington News Correspondent, WBUR, Boston


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