Few organizations elicit more polarized responses than the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Supporters of the FBI claim that it has played an essential role in protecting the United States from all sorts of criminal activity and existential threats since its origins over a century ago as the Bureau of Investigation. Critics say the FBI routinely breaks the very laws it seeks to enforce and has often been a force of state-based repression.
Today's guest on the Reason Podcast is a former FBI agent who nonetheless is a vocal critic of the bureau. Mike German served in the FBI for 16 years, many as an undercover operative who infiltrated white supremacist groups. He left the bureau in 2004 as a whistleblower who told Congress his former colleagues had grossly mishandled a variety of counter-terrorism cases and falsified evidence. Since leaving the bureau, he's worked at the ACLU and published a memoir titled Thinking Like a Terrorist: Insights of a Former FBI Undercover Agent. He now hangs his shingle at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice, where he focuses on how the war on terror affects civil liberties.
He is also the author of the new book, Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy, a searing indictment of the agency he once worked for. According to German's in-depth, insider's account, the FBI routinely protects its own malefactors and mistakes at the cost of letting white supremacists, terrorists, and foreign agents go free.
Audio production by Ian Keyser.