On October 27, IWP professor Dr. Raymond J. Batvinis was a panelist in an event co-sponsored by the International Spy Museum and The Institute of World Politics entitled “Breaking Good? The Burglary that Exposed the FBI’s Secret Surveillance Program.”
During the lecture, the audience was able to hear the stories of three individuals who were directly involved with a four-decade mystery involving the burglary of over 1,000 FBI surveillance papers on civil rights organizations and anti-war groups.
Bonnie and John Raines, masterminds of the burglary, described in detail their procedure and techniques used to break into an FBI office in Media, PA. Their story was followed by Washington Post Journalist Betty Magsder who was responsible for publishing the stolen documents — that were sent anonymously — in the newspaper, every ten days.
Professor Ray Batvinis, 25-year FBI veteran who joined the Bureau shortly after the burglary, described the historical context in which this event occurred, outlining the violent protests taking place and various domestic terrorist organizations that posed an extreme national security threat. He argued that although some overreach was discovered because of the burglary, there was absolutely no excuse for domestic terrorism that heightened the national security threats that the burglars had been aiming to erase.
Dr. Batvinis has dedicated both his professional and academic life to educate the public on misconceptions surrounding the FBI. He works tirelessly on research, analysis, and education surrounding the origins, practice, and importance of the FBI to United States national security. In addition, he works at the J. Edgar Hoover Foundation, which provides grants and scholarships to young professionals entering into the intelligence and national security fields.
The event was concluded with a Q&A panel of mixed opinions. Many audience members asked the burglars about how they completed such a mission, whereas others asked about whether or not civil disobedience was justifiable if it heightened National Security threat in a time already high threat.
Photo: Peter Earnest, founding executive director of the International Spy Museum and a 35 year veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency with Dr. Raymond Batvinis, IWP professor and 25 year veteran of the FBI.