The Dangers of Dissent

The FBI and Civil Liberties since 1965

By (author) Ivan Greenberg

Publication date:

14 October 2010

Length of book:

344 pages


Lexington Books

ISBN-13: 9780739149386

While most studies of the FBI focus on the long tenure of Director J. Edgar Hoover (1924-1972), The Dangers of Dissent shifts the ground to the recent past. The book examines FBI practices in the domestic security field through the prism of "political policing." The monitoring of dissent is exposed, as are the Bureau's controversial "counterintelligence" operations designed to disrupt political activity. This book reveals that attacks on civil liberties focus on a wide range of domestic critics on both the Left and the Right. This book traces the evolution of FBI spying from 1965 to the present through the eyes of those under investigation, as well as through numerous FBI documents, never used before in scholarly writing, that were recently declassified using the Freedom of Information Act or released during litigation (Greenberg v. FBI). Ivan Greenberg considers the diverse ways that government spying has crossed the line between legal intelligence-gathering to criminal action. While a number of studies focus on government policies under George W. Bush's "War on Terror," Greenberg is one of the few to situate the primary role of the FBI as it shaped and was reshaped by the historical context of the new American Surveillance Society.
A curtain has more or less descended upon the operations of the FBI since the 1975 Senate Church Committee hearings, and this book does more to pull back that curtain than any other source I am aware of. What we do know about FBI operations since 1975 has come in bits and pieces which have been carried in the press on a very episodic basis. The Dangers of Dissent puts together all that has been in the public record, plus a great deal which Greenberg has uncovered by using the Freedom of Information Act and by being in personal contact with individuals who have been involved in litigation with the FBI. It also brings together an amazing number of secondary sources, including newspapers, periodical literature, and scholarly books. This book is easily the most important source of information on the post-1975 FBI to date. I would certainly recommend the book to anyone with interests in the FBI, the intelligence agencies, or the current state of American civil liberties.