Abuse of Power: How Cold War Surveillance and Secrecy Policy Shaped the Response to 9/11

Abuse of Power: How Cold War Surveillance and Secrecy Policy Shaped the Response to 9/11

by Athan Theoharis
     
 

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Athan Theoharis, long a respected authority on surveillance and secrecy, established his reputation for meticulous scholarship with his work on the loyalty security program developed under Truman and McCarthy. In Abuse of Power, Theoharis continues his investigation of U.S. government surveillance and historicizes the 9/11 response.

Criticizing the

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Overview

Athan Theoharis, long a respected authority on surveillance and secrecy, established his reputation for meticulous scholarship with his work on the loyalty security program developed under Truman and McCarthy. In Abuse of Power, Theoharis continues his investigation of U.S. government surveillance and historicizes the 9/11 response.

Criticizing the U.S. government's secret activities and policies during periods of "unprecedented crisis," he recounts how presidents and FBI officials exploited concerns about foreign-based internal security threats.

Drawing on information sequestered until recently in FBI records, Theoharis shows how these secret activities in the World War II and Cold War eras expanded FBI surveillance powers and, in the process, eroded civil liberties without substantially advancing legitimate security interests.

Passionately argued, this timely book speaks to the costs and consequences of still-secret post-9/11 surveillance programs and counterintelligence failures. Ultimately, Abuse of Power makes the case that the abusive surveillance policies of the Cold War years were repeated in the government's responses to the September 11 attacks.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Theoharis (Chasing Spies), emeritus professor of history at Marquette University, surveys a pattern of FBI abuse of power stretching back to WWII in this extensively documented and passionately argued case for a national debate over the issue of domestic intelligence gathering. Drawing on decades of research into FBI records, often obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, the author argues that the notion that FBI culture changed from "reactive" to "proactive" law enforcement after 9/11 is a myth. In fact, the shift began as early as 1936, and the cold war enshrined its intelligence role. Operating in secrecy and relying heavily on wiretapping, the FBI not only strayed into illegal activities (e.g., political surveillance) but also "failed to uncover the Soviet Union's most successful espionage operations." Exploring this history of sanctioned abuse of power and limited success, Theoharis warns that the post-9/11 expansion of the FBI's "political-surveillance authority" should be viewed with skepticism. (May)
From the Publisher
"Theoharis has a long history of criticizing government security programs. No scholar has greater authority or a corpus of scholarship that is more highly respected. Abuse of Power is excellent, and it will immediately command attention—even from those who are only peripherally interested in the subject of surveillance and secrecy. What is distinctive and original about this book is that Theoharis so superbly historicizes the 9/11 response. His argument, essentially, is that the policies from the Roosevelt years were not only illegal but also ineffective in terms of preserving security. Thus, it is not surprising that they did not prevent 9/11."
—Richard Immerman, author of Empire for Liberty: A History of American Imperialism from Benjamin Franklin to Paul Wolfowitz

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439906668
Publisher:
Temple University Press
Publication date:
04/29/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
212
File size:
1 MB

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