September 12, 2019

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NYU Washington, DC, the John Brademas Center of New York University, and the Brennan Center for Justice hosted an evening discussion featuring Brennan Center Fellow and former FBI special agent Michael German, and Senior Washington News Correspondent for WBUR Boston, Kimberly Atkins.

The events of 9/11 transformed life in the United States —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, 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 examined 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?

Please note that this event may have been filmed and/or photographed.


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Kimberly Atkins

Kimberly Atkins

Mike German

Mike German

Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide Book Cover

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.