cover image Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy

Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy

Mike German. The New Press, $27.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-62097-379-0

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. Relating tales of interdepartmental dysfunction and infighting, reprisals against whistle blowers, and investigative overreach, German collects a searing set of eye-opening case studies that point to a decreasingly effective organization: “actual crime, violence, and credible threats to national security go unaddressed while FBI agents chase phantoms of potential future terrorists.” German’s experiences as an undercover agent provide a unique insight into the inner workings of the FBI, from the way agents are posted to offices to the requirement that all undercover work is done voluntarily. The FBI’s leadership is often a target of German’s criticism, particularly Robert Mueller III and James Comey, but his view of the bureau is not entirely negative. German peppers the narrative with the stories of unsung rank-and-file agents, including those of Gamal Abdel-Hafiz, the FBI’s first foreign-born Muslim agent, and Coleen Rowley, a Minneapolis field agent, who both questioned oversteps by their superiors. Bound to be divisive, German’s account is unlikely to convince readers who don’t agree with him that the FBI is on the wrong path, but it raises some valuable questions about the primary role of this key government agency. (Sept.)