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Civil Liberties and National Security: Did Hoover Get it Right?

On April 21, 2015, LTC Charmaine E. Betty-Singleton (USAR), a US Army War College Fellow at The Institute of World Politics and Raymond J. Batvinis, a Former Supervisory Special Agent with the FBI and current IWP Professor, gave a lecture on the topic of “Civil Liberties and National Security: Did Hoover Get it Right?”  

This presentation was the result of research conducted by LTC Betty-Singleton for her IWP-USAWC Fellowship. A more detailed description appears below.

With the continued threat of terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and the active recruitment of US citizens, the emerging threat of cyber-attacks and cyber espionage, recent whistleblower cases like PFC Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden, and active shooters incidents like MAJ Nidal Hasan and Aaron Alexis the Navy Yard shooter, the Intelligence community requires legal authority to conduct internal monitoring of various networks and individual activity. Said monitoring would include, but is not limited to, observing behaviors and looking for threat indicators. Such actions of course invoke significant privacy and civil liberties issues and intelligence collection and dissemination concerns. Admittedly, intelligence monitoring, in order to be successful, will require collaboration by all stakeholders — legal, intelligence, security, human resources professionals, to name a few — and most significantly, buy-in from the American public, which will require officials emphasizing the importance of US National Security interests and the prevention of network and personal threats.

This presentation will review the role of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover and assess whether or not Hoover’s unorthodox methods are currently warranted. It also will examine the effectiveness of post-9/11 strategic laws and attempt to discern what additional laws are required to effectively deter the various emerging threats that are impacting US national security. This presentation will conclude with a proposed US national strategy/model focusing on emerging and future threats.