Richard E. Morgan, Domestic Intelligence: Monitoring Dissent in America (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980).

Richard Morgan examines past “abuses” of power by intelligence agencies in “monitoring domestic political dissent.” He concludes that while reforms of the intelligence agencies are needed, some critics have gone too far in their demands for change, and that the Freedom of Information Act, for instance, has harmed the intelligence agencies. Unfortunately, however, Morgan leaves out of his heavily documented tract facts which would undercut his advocacy of limited reforms. He never mentions that “monitoring” of a group by intelligence agencies is almost always tied to operations against that group. He omits the fact that in some cases the FBI and CIA “monitoring” of dissenting organizations led to their destruction.

Morgan attempts to place himself in a centrist position on intelligence reform, “the generous path of middle ground between [two] extremes”: the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes political surveillance without clear evidence of “specific or immediate violation of law,” and intelligence operative Brian Crozier, who favors “departments of unconventional war” to counter dissidents in emergencies. But Morgan, in essence, sides with Crozier. For a reader who is confronting the issue of intelligence abuses for the first time, Domestic Intelligence may even be convincing. It omits central aspects of “abuses” and never addresses the role intelligence agencies play in stabilizing the US political system. Domestic Intelligence supports those political elements, like George Bush, who advocates “strong” intelligence agencies in the period ahead.

How to cite this article:

Konrad Ege "Morgan, Domestic Intelligence," Middle East Report 96 (May/June 1981).

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