Hidden History of the FBI

Facilitator:     Barbara McCornack, 493-0985, barbaram4@juno.com                                            Dates:            Mondays, September 11-October 30, 2017
Time:             1:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Text:              Enemies: A History of the FBI, Tim Weiner Presentations: See below

Recent news has dealt with the problems and personalities involved in the interaction of FBI with the Department of Justice and President Trump. Although the FBI is a subdivision of the Department of Justice, so the director serves “at the pleasure of the president,” it historically has been seen as having a certain amount of independence from partisan politics. I believe that one way to shed more light on the current situation is through studying the past.

For almost 110 years, the FBI has been asked to serve as a national police force upholding the rule of law and arresting criminals, but also as a secret intelligence service gathering evidence against spies and terrorists. This second responsibility will be the focus of this class as we examine how the FBI has tried to keep the delicate balance between national security and civil liberties. We will learn how J. Edgar Hoover’s deep fear of communism affected the FBI’s work for over 48 years, and how involvement in fighting terror- ism has had a long history. We will also see how different presidents used the agency to try to further their own agendas.

Each class member will share a half-hour report on a specific aspect of this topic, using the extensively researched text as a resource along with other materials.