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That's not to suggest that the agency is currently engaged in Hoover-era criminality. But it's worth considering that, as my colleague Julian Sanchez points out, "the existence of such large databases in itself increases the risk of abuse."
"Information is power," Hoover intones in one of the film's key lines—and history warns us that power unchecked becomes power abused.
Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute and author of The Cult of the Presidency: America's Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (Cato 2008). He is a columnist at the Washington Examiner, where a version of this article originally appeared. Click here to read it at that site.