Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counter-Intelligence But Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War Years
The long history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation under J. Edgar Hoover is studded with serious questions about the Bureau "s professionalism and accountability. Revelations in the recent cases of Wen Ho Lee, Robert Hannsen, and Timothy McVeigh illustrate these misgivings. In Chasing Spies, Athan Theoharis, historian and perhaps the foremost authority on the FBI "s record, raises urgent new uncertainties about the Bureau "s behavior ”and about the prospects for giving the FBI expanded powers of surveillance during the current national emergency. Mr. Theoharis here redefines the politics of the World War II and cold war eras, moving the debate beyond the narrow perspective triggered by the release of KGB records and intercepted Soviet consular reports (the Venona messages). The intriguing issue, he argues, is not the effectiveness of Soviet espionage activities as supported by the new evidence. Nor is it the long-standing charges of Ssoftness toward communism in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. The real issue, he says, is the failure of the FBI to apprehend and convict Soviet agents. Based on meticulous research in FBI files, Chasing Spies uncovers the FBI "s role in the most important espionage cases of the cold war years. The book shows how secrecy immunized FBI operations from critical scrutiny and enabled FBI officials to mask their counterintelligence failures while promoting a politics of McCarthyism.
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Chasing Spies: How the FBI Failed in Counterintelligence but Promoted the Politics of McCarthyism in the Cold War YearsUser Review - Book Verdict
We have thrilled to the revelations about Soviet espionage in the United States that have appeared in such recent books as Allen Weinstein and Alexander Vassiliev's The Haunted Wood (LJ 11/15/98) and John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr's Venona (LJ 4/15/99). However, author Theoharis, who has spent the past 30 years investigating the activities of J. Edgar Hoover and his FBI (see, for instance, From the Secret Files of J. Edgar Hoover), insists that we know only a part of the story. Much of the information from both Soviet and American archives has been heavily censored by their respective governments. Reflecting decades of research, Theoharis argues that Hoover's FBI was much more interested in promoting an anti-Communist agenda, which would enhance the credibility of the agency and its political influence, than in countering Soviet espionage. Theoharis presents chilling evidence of illegal FBI wiretapping and other surveillance activities none of which would have withstood legal challenges in its unending effort to identify Communist sympathizers and fellow travelers. From Hollywood actors to Martin Luther King Jr. to political opponents of Washington politicians the FBI considered them all potential enemies of the state. Theoharis's book is an outstanding contribution to the growing historical literature on the Cold War and a potent warning to anyone who thinks we have heard the last word on the Cold War we haven't. Heartily recommended for all collections. Ed Goedeken, Iowa State Univ. Lib. ...
The Soviet Espionage Threat
The Failure of U S Counterintelligence
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