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The Dangers of Dissent

The FBI and Civil Liberties since 1965

Ivan Greenberg

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. « less more »
Lexington Books
Pages: 344Size: 6 3/4 x 9 3/8
978-0-7391-4938-6 • Hardback • October 2010 • $105.00 • (£70.00)
978-0-7391-4940-9 • Paperback • October 2012 • $41.99 • (£27.95)
978-0-7391-4939-3 • eBook • October 2010 • $38.99 • (£24.95)
Ivan Greenberg is a former adjunct instructor in the City University of New York college system and is currently an independent scholar.
1 Introduction
Chapter 2 1. State Crimes
3 "Counter-Intelligence" Methods
4 The FBI Encourages Violence
5 Advice on Fighting Repression
6 "Testilying" and Falsification
Chapter 7 2. The Evolution of Seventies Spying
8 COINTELPRO Aims and Ends
9 Congressional Questioning
10 Surveillance of the Left
11 Senate Church Committee
12 Black Bag Jobs
13 Carter Appoints a New Director
Chapter 14 3. Has the FBI Really Changed?
15 Reagan Revives Spying
16 Spying on the Nuclear Freeze Movement
17 Spying on African-American Elected Officials
18 Surveillance of Right-wing Groups
Chapter 19 4. The Need for Enemies after the Cold War
20 Enemies at the Millennium
21 Peace Dividend
22 Who are the Terrorists?
Chapter 23 5. The Terror Scare
24 Denver, New York City
25 "October Plan"
26 Violations, Watch Lists and Databases
Chapter 27 6. Information Flow and Political Policing
28 FBI Power and the FOIA
29 Early Lawsuits
30 Police Legitimacy
31 Concealing the Identities of Informers
32 The Privacy Act
Chapter 33 7. Suing the FBI for Spying
34 Old Left Plaintiffs
35 Race and the FBI
36 New Left Plaintiffs
37 Plaintiffs Losses
38 Post-COINTELPRO Cases
Chapter 39 8. The FBI in the 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.

Robert Justin Goldstein, Oakland University and The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor

Ivan Greenberg has written a tour de force on the history and transformation of the FBI in relation to civil liberties and political involvement in a democratic society over the past 50 years. This comprehensive and balanced yet critical analysis of The Dangers of Dissent is an excellent primer on the subject, locating the centrality of its discussion in the rise of an information and surveillance society.
Gregg Barak, Eastern Michigan University; author of Violence and Nonviolence: Pathways to Understanding

In The Dangers of Dissent, Ivan Greenberg turns the Freedom of Information Act into a weapon of protest. The result is an expose of FBI misconduct over forty years and a report from the legal trenches by a litigator against the government. Very informative.
Chris Waldrep, San Francisco State University

Greenberg makes an important contribution to our understanding of the impact of the security state on civil liberties. His book is a passionate account, although not a polemical one, and its urgent tone reminds us that the price of our inattention has often been higher than we wish to admit.
Journal of American History

The Dangers of Dissent is a well documented and meticulously researched work that deserves the serious attention of social scientists of all disciplines and anyone concerned with the growth and impact of the surveillance state on democracy in America.
Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture

Ivan Greenberg's The Dangers of Dissent provides one of the only historical surveys of FBI political spying after the death of its longtime Director, J. Edgar Hoover, in 1972.
Left History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Historical Inquiry & Debate

Ivan Greenberg's The Dangers of Dissent provides one of the only historical surveys of FBI political spying after the death of its longtime director, J. Edgar Hoover, in 1972. ... "The heart of this book ... is based on research in archival materials or materials obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that have rarely, if ever, been accessed by researchers." ... As a result [the] government documents provide a basis to not just study government repression, but to recover part of the history of those movements that government agencies sought to suppress. ... The Dangers of Dissent promises a different approach to using government documents to narrate the history of surveillance programs.
Left History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Historical Inquiry & Debate