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Enemies is the first definitive history of the FBI’s secret intelligence operations from an author whose work on the Pentagon and the CIA won him the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award   We think of the FBI as America’s police force But secret intelligence is the. A free people must have both security and liberty They are warring forces yet we cannot have one without the other When William Webster became Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1978 he was shocked to find that the FBI spawned from the Bureau of Investigation in 1935 was without a legal framework for its activities and operations Author Tim Weiner describes The Bureau had no charter a legal birth certificate from Congress spelling out its role It had never had one It still does not Weiner s Enemies is a whirlwind history of how such an entity came to be and how limited only by the president s oath to take care that the laws are faithfully executed its boundaries and missions have stretched and pulled and become what they are today The author further specifies his goal as honing in on the history of the FBI s secret intelligence operations describing the book in part as a record of illegal arrests and detentions break ins burglaries wiretapping and bugging on behalf of the president Most of what I found lacking in the book lay outside of Weiner s intended scope So I only have myself to blame for the long list of events about which I want to know so much In all fairness those details and anecdotes would have rendered this already hefty book into an unwieldy tome You can t have it all I suppose American MachiavelliThere s a reason that a good chunk of FBI history reads much like a biography of its famed first director J Edgar Hoover Since I already got most of my Archer referencing J Edna Hoover ya yas out reading The Puppetmaster The Secret Life of J Edgar Hoover earlier this year I m gonna shy away from commenting much on the man himself However it s clear that without Hoover there simply is no history of this breed of federal activity He was a founding father of American intelligence and the architect of the modern surveillance state Every fingerprint on file every byte of biographic and biometric data in the computer banks of the government owes its origins to him Got a problem with that Well yeah Duh In a government that purportedly relies on a system of checks and balances this kind of power which of course is a function of information is not meant to be left on the shoulders of one man without some serious supervision And Hoover had the cunning necessary to keep that consolidated power If you re including his years as Director of the BOI then Hoover s reign starts with Calvin Coolidge in 1924 and closes during the Nixon Administration in 1972 Legalizing Spycraft The Espionage Act of 1917 was a game changer such that when Hoover became the chief of the Justice Department s Radical Division in 1919 anyone in possession of information that could harm the nation basically anything with disloyal ideas could be tossed in the slammer You had your anarchists socialists and of course the good old Communist conspiracy all of which the Justice Department wanted to uash and thought J Edgar was the man to do it To no great surprise things got out of hand pretty uickly as espionage set its sights on senators at the whim of the attorney general The Bureau of Investigation had been created as an instrument of law It was turning into an illegal weapon of political warfare The transition from BOI to FBI in 1935 however was not inconseuential Under Franklin D Roosevelt a wartime president in case you forgot about a little thing called WWII Hoover was first charged with tackling cases that crossed state boundaries gangster wars Prohibition You know stuff that had Hoover holding tommy guns for documentaries like You Can t Get Away With It below in 1936 Those criminal justice elements and raids on political meetings private homes bookstores and bedrooms however didn t give Hoover the kind of wiggle room he felt he needed to compete with the experienced foreign espionage services of the Soviets Germans or Japanese Enter the Smith Act of 1940 which included the toughest federal restrictions on free speech in American history it outlawed words and thoughts aimed at overthrowing the government and it made membership in any organization with that intent a federal crime Wartime Wiretaps and Turf WarsThough Hoover had a hefty load on his plate under FDR World War II reuired new arms of intelligence and Roosevelt appointed William Wild Bill Donovan spymaster for the Office of Secret Services which was itself a secret Hoover was never big on sharing and thus was not a fan of Wild Bill considered the intellectual father of the CIA Thus began decades of painfully uncoordinated branches of American secret intelligence Hoover was ever aware of the lay of the land and how best to manipulate higher ups to get necessary approval Weiner points out that if we don t do this people will die has withstood the test of time as a one liner with a record of garnering uick signatures When the going was good Hoover was first in line to take the credit When Nazi saboteurs including George Dasch below were captured in 1942 Edgar was sure to get a letter to the Oval Office ASAP boasting of how the FBI had effectively stopped the Third Reich from invading American soil not bothering to mention that Dasch in fact turned himself in And in a vast oversimplification of affairs let s just say that when FDR passed and Truman took office Hoover tried to treat Truman like a gullible babysitter claiming FDR totally would have let him watch TV after 9pm or you know run a black bag job or two From the Red Scare to the War on TerrorI was born in 1984 so names like Timothy McVeigh Ted Kaczynski and David Koresh come to mind when I think of FBI takedowns of yesteryear Then I remember hearing a little something something about some McCarthy fellow who dominated the small screen for a while getting to watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers in high school history class and Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle and it comes back to me that the threat of Communism was kind of a big deal This would be the part of the book where I leaned heavily on Wikipedia to give me a bit context on a hit parade of names that came up in a mix of Bureau espionage achievements and embarrassments You know the type of stuff that would have Ronald Reagan joking into the microphone during soundcheck My fellow Americans I m pleased to tell you today that I ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever Even as the targets of secret intelligence operations and the faces of terror shifted from the likes of Aldrich Ames and Alger Hiss to the Blind Sheik below and Osama Bin Laden there remained one constant critical threat to the American way of life I think FBI Director Robert S Mueller from 2001 to 2013 summed it up best We did not have a management system in place to assure that we were following the law The Rules of EngagementWeiner does get into the detail of how changes in technology and personnel not to mention geopolitics alteredcontinues to alter the elusive balance between security and freedom He does a pretty damn good job of it too so you know read the book because it s interesting and intricate stuff Some rules have become a bit clear You know like the fact that if invited in law enforcement can enter your home without a warrant citation Cyril Figgis And once that happens well I ll let Agent Hawley say it Oh come on Did you really expect me to do this entire review without at least one Archer reference Cenote vast oversimplification of affairs let s just say that when FDR passed and Truman took office Hoover tried to treat Truman like a gullible babysitter claiming FDR totally would have let him watch TV after 9pm or you know run a black bag job or two From the Red Scare to the War on TerrorI was born in 1984 so names like Timothy McVeigh Ted Kaczynski and David Koresh come to mind when I think of FBI takedowns of yesteryear Then I remember hearing a little something something about some McCarthy fellow who dominated the small screen for a while getting to watch Invasion of the Body Snatchers in high school history class and Boris and Natasha from Rocky and Bullwinkle and it comes back to me that the threat of Communism was kind of a big deal This would be the part of the book where I leaned heavily on Wikipedia to give me a bit context on a hit parade of names that came up in a mix of Bureau espionage achievements and embarrassments You know the type of stuff that would have Ronald Reagan joking into the microphone during soundcheck My fellow Americans I m pleased to tell you today that I Sottomissione ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever Even as the targets of secret intelligence operations and the faces of terror shifted from the likes of Aldrich Ames and Alger Hiss to the Blind Sheik below and Osama Bin Laden there remained one constant critical threat to the American way of life I think FBI Director Robert S Mueller from 2001 to 2013 summed it up best We did not have a management system in place to assure that we were following the law The Rules of EngagementWeiner does get into the detail of how changes in technology and personnel not to mention geopolitics alteredcontinues to alter the elusive balance between security and freedom He does a pretty damn good job of it too so you know read the book because it s interesting and intricate stuff Some rules have become a bit clear You know like the fact that if invited in law enforcement can enter your home without a warrant citation Cyril Figgis And once that happens well I ll let Agent Hawley say it Oh come on Did you really expect me to do this entire review without at least one Archer reference

Read Enemies A History of the FBI

Enemies A History of the FBI

Ne it deemed subversive and sometimes American presidents The FBI’s secret intelligence and surveillance techniues have created a tug of war between protecting national security and infringing upon civil liberties It is a tension that strains the very fabric of a free republ. An informative disturbing book on the history of the FBI which at its worst moments has functioned as something like the United States version of the Stasi As the book describes for the first half century after its creation it was the tool of one man alone J Edgar Hoover Hoover turned the bureau into a weapon to snuff out communist subversion in the United States At the time of its creation the threat of revolution in America was real and the bureau was above all created to prevent such an occurrence The bureau made war on workers movements and helped support the bosses in their battle to crush organized laborIn fairness the Soviets were doing espionage in America and dreamt of triggering a revolution of the working class that would lead to a Soviet America Later on they would abandon revolutionary goals and focus on trying to steal military secrets and win informants which they did with considerable success But in what has become a running theme of FBI operations the bureau response to foreign espionage was like taking a sledgehammer to an anthill With the Palmer Raids and numerous other purges the bureau set a precedent for sweeping up and abusing huge numbers of innocent people in order to find the few guilty a blunt tactic it continues to this day So much for sophisticated detective work which the bureau cultivates an image ofThroughout its history many legal experts and even FBI officials themselves have warned of the danger of the bureau becoming an American secret police akin to those maintained by the Tsars and the Soviet commissars Whether it is depends on your perspective But the bureau has undeniably engaged in wanton blackmail of elected officials as well as the targeting and destruction of grassroots political movements in the United States It has also targeted the KKK and snuffed out genuine foreign espionage But it seems as though it s greater zeal and abuse has focused on racialized targets and political enemies Reading what they did under Hoover I have little doubt that such an institution is at least capable of using blackmail and undemocratic means to destroy an elected president including one as loathsome as the current holder of office If you start a political movement that would even dream of challenging power in the United States or are a politically active individual from a disfavored minority you can expect to be targeted by the nastiest of tactics in the bureau arsenal Among these are harassment surveillance entrapment and This is not hyperbole but plain fact experienced by Black Americans as well Muslims from any background who have lived through post 911 AmericaI was expecting a dull read but this was actually a page turner There are also details of historical episodes I had never even known of before like an investigation to apprehend the assassins of an Israeli military official in DC in the 1970s The book would ve benefitted from big picture analysis and got too much into the weeds of certain investigations at time Despite that it is an informative and largely enjoyable history of the bureau It offers a mixed picture of the FBI that will likely be a Rorschach test based on ones perspective KING very fabric of a free republ. An informative disturbing book on the history of the FBI which at its worst moments has functioned as something like the United States Ty jesteś moje imię version of the Stasi As the book describes for the first half century after its creation it was the tool of one man alone J Edgar Hoover Hoover turned the bureau into a weapon to snuff out communist subversion in the United States At the time of its creation the threat of revolution in America was real and the bureau was above all created to prevent such an occurrence The bureau made war on workers movements and helped support the bosses in their battle to crush organized laborIn fairness the Soviets were doing espionage in America and dreamt of triggering a revolution of the working class that would lead to a Soviet America Later on they would abandon revolutionary goals and focus on trying to steal military secrets and win informants which they did with considerable success But in what has become a running theme of FBI operations the bureau response to foreign espionage was like taking a sledgehammer to an anthill With the Palmer Raids and numerous other purges the bureau set a precedent for sweeping up and abusing huge numbers of innocent people in order to find the few guilty a blunt tactic it continues to this day So much for sophisticated detective work which the bureau cultivates an image ofThroughout its history many legal experts and even FBI officials themselves have warned of the danger of the bureau becoming an American secret police akin to those maintained by the Tsars and the Soviet commissars Whether it is depends on your perspective But the bureau has undeniably engaged in wanton blackmail of elected officials as well as the targeting and destruction of grassroots political movements in the United States It has also targeted the KKK and snuffed out genuine foreign espionage But it seems as though it s greater zeal and abuse has focused on racialized targets and political enemies Reading what they did under Hoover I have little doubt that such an institution is at least capable of using blackmail and undemocratic means to destroy an elected president including one as loathsome as the current holder of office If you start a political movement that would even dream of challenging power in the United States or are a politically active individual from a disfavored minority you can expect to be targeted by the nastiest of tactics in the bureau arsenal Among these are harassment surveillance entrapment and This is not hyperbole but plain fact experienced by Black Americans as well Muslims from any background who have lived through post 911 AmericaI was expecting a dull read but this was actually a page turner There are also details of historical episodes I had never even known of before like an investigation to apprehend the assassins of an Israeli military official in DC in the 1970s The book would The Many Lives of Fitzwilliam Darcy ve benefitted from big picture analysis and got too much into the weeds of certain investigations at time Despite that it is an informative and largely enjoyable history of the bureau It offers a mixed picture of the FBI that will likely be a Rorschach test based on ones perspective

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Bureau’s first and foremost mission Enemies is the story of how presidents have used the FBI as the most formidable intelligence force in American history   Here is the hidden history of America’s hundred year war on terror The FBI has fought against terrorists spies anyo. Why is it so hard for the United States to have an effective intelligence service and achieve a reasonable balance between individual rights and national security Weiner s history of the FBI had me asking that uestion and the likely answers were not comforting Ever since 1917 when the Red Threat arose and J Edgar Hoover joined what would become the FBI abuse of power and confusion have been the hallmarks of the FBI Hoover s need to keep tight personal control meant the FBI was never properly organized His legacy haunts it to this dayHoover as bad as he was with his private collection of secrets on everyone of importance knew his limits and not to go beyond them which is why he lasted in the FBI 55 years Worse than Hoover were presidents such as JFK Nixon Reagan and Bush 43 who tried to do the FBI s job themselves but didn t know their limits and went out of control Weiner s recounting of the presidents relations with the FBI and their attempts to bypass or usurp it were interesting to me than those of the FBI itself and upsetting Here are some highlights Many presidents were happy to take advantage of Hoover s secrets FDR LBJ and Nixon used information from Hoover s secret files for their own political purposes Truman was skeptical of Hoover but would not dare take him on JFK had plenty of reasons to be terrified of Hoover who had the dirt on his many affairs including the one with Judith Campbell who JFK shared with mob boss Sam Giancana The JFK administration tried to enlist the mob to assassinate Castro for the CIA with Campbell serving as a go between with benefits JFK literally in bed with the mob had to be a new low but Nixon s Plumbers a bumbling crew of Watergate fame led by the inept G Gordon Liddy were scraping the bottom too Reagan not to be outdone established his own White House anti terrorist group under the nefarious Oliver North hitting bottom with active support of murderous regimes in El Salvador and Nicaragua financed by skimming money from the sale of missiles to Iran an example of duplicity hard to beat But then came George W Bush descending to new lows with lots of advice from one who always knew best Dick Cheney Bush and Cheney implemented torture on a wide scale sending people at will to secret prisons and abandoning any pretense of individual rights The proclivity to secrecy and control for personal and ideological gain at the expense of individual rights seems so pervasive that it is hard to believe it will ever changeWeiner ends on a bit of an upbeat note as Obama takes office with Director Mueller as FBI Director and the FBI CIA and Defense Department agencies finally begin to cooperate Mueller and his assistant and current FBI Director James Comey were notable for standing up to the Bush administration refusing their demands for wiretaps without warrants Mueller began rebuilding the FBI following twenty years of incompetent leadership by FBI Directors Louis Freeh and William Sessions both having furthered the FBI s decline While overall intelligence effectiveness SEEMS to have improved now due to better organization and coordination of intelligence agencies only time will tell if this is true History still has to decide if the latest twist on counterterrorism operations the drone strike program has downside than upside While many terrorists are killed so are innocent people and many new enemies are created as people turn against the US in what they see as abuse of power The final answer may lie in how well the program is controlled and history does not bode well here Would Reagan have used drones in Central America in his support of ruthless dictators or Cheney with Bush s ever ready approval against the Lackawanna Six in New York simply because HE thought they were an al aeda cell later disproven Cheney wanted the US Army to capture the Lackawanna Six American citizens on American soil so they could be treated as enemy combatants sent to Guantanamo tortured and denied a trial which except for the intervention of FBI Director Mueller might well have happened For Cheney drones would have provided a much expedient solution So what does the future hold for ever present paranoid politicians euipped with ever increasing technical capabilities We can only guess but if you are scared well history says you should be


9 thoughts on “Enemies A History of the FBI

  1. says:

    Tim Weiner's Enemies A History of the FBI is an interesting book about the FBI's straddling the line between legal and illegal pursuit of criminals The book spends a lot of time discussing the career and legacy o

  2. says:

    A free people must have both security and liberty They are warring forces yet we cannot have one without the other When William Webster became Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1978 he was shocked to find that the FBI spawned from the Bureau of Investigation in 1935 was without a legal framework for its

  3. says:

    J Edgar Hoover is the main character in this book at least for the first 23rds and if there was ever any uestion that Hoover is one of the most conseuential people in American history that uestion no longer exists in my mind

  4. says:

    Why is it so hard for the United States to have an effective intelligence service and achieve a reasonable bala

  5. says:

    Reading this book i realized a couple things i didn't know before One that J Edgar Hoover was probably the most powerful man in American history only because of the amount of sway that he had on just about anyone And two that the FBI is this weird mix of 1984 and the Wizard of Oz where you have this agency that is presumably watchi

  6. says:

    If you liked Legacy of Ashes you'll like Enemies The converse also applies; Weiner retains the fast paced journalistic style of Legacy tantalising links are left hanging and background is left as exercise for the readerLike his biography of the Agency this effort starts to fade as it heads closer to the present deprived of declassified documents and on the record testimony it starts to read as a recap of recent

  7. says:

    An informative disturbing book on the history of the FBI which at its worst moments has functioned as something like the United States version of the Stasi As the book describes for the first half century after its creation it was the tool of one man alone J Edgar Hoover Hoover turned the bureau into a weapon to snuff out communist subversion in the United States At the time of its creation the threat of revolution in Am

  8. says:

    Dryly factual Five stars for the overwhelmingly interesting facts one star for the dry writing style which rarely goes into sufficient detail

  9. says:

    What a fascinating book I was really disturbed at how much intelligence was floating around before the 911 attacks Even as far back as the mid 1990s I have a lot greater respect for director Robert Mueller Mueller was essentially thrown into the position after battling an aggressive cancer right as the 911 attacks happened His resolve to maintain a bureau of integrity and legality is uite impressive Knowing what Mueller is up to t

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