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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Model Study and Potential Issues in Study

Part I

I will use the following study  as a model:

Morgan, S. A. (2014, March). Security vs. liberty: How to measure privacy costs in domestic surveillance programs (Thesis). Monterrey, California. Naval Postgraduate School. Retrieved October 17, 2014 from https://calhoun.nps.edu/handle/10945/41421

Part II

Potential Issues in Study   
          The covert nature of program.  A primary issue is due to this secret nature of the program.  Although some material has been made publicly available through the Freedom of Information Act, it is likely that there is material that needs to be uncovered to fully explore the nature of the program.  Theoharis contends that "FOIA requestors have oftentimes found released FBI documents to have been massively redacted and of limited research value" (1990, p. 222).
          Lost material due to time and destruction. There is an issue based on the passage of time.  The Archives note that the material on hand is from the national FBI offices, and that most of the operational notes were kept at the field offices.  It is likely that most of this material is now lost.  In addition, the FBI intentionally destroyed over 700,000 cubic feet of records between 1976 and 1978 (Steinwall, 1986, p. 56) , although this material has not been specified to include documentation on COINTELPRO operations.
          There may difficulty in assigning qualitative characteristics when comparing New Left operations against Leftist groups as a whole. SDS, for example, evolved from the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID), a socialist front group, approximately around 1962.
          Political bias.  Most discussion of the COINTELPRO program is based on the contention that it was somehow “immoral” to investigate and harass violent groups that had the goal of breaking American law; in addition, the vast majority of this discussion has been conducted by leftists that focused on leftist groups as “victims” of this program, and ignored completely COINTELPRO operations against the Klan (not to mention the violent nature of the crimes committed by these Leftist groups). The majority of the remainder often brushed off efforts against the Klan as an FBI front for public relations...in a secret program. There is also the question of my own personal bias.    
          Personal bias  While it would be nice that research was fundamentally unbiased, “Qualitative researchers contend that bias is inherent, yet can be described clearly enough to allow the reader to judge if bias has inappropriately influenced the research” (Sampson, 2012, p. 8).   In my own case, I will be upfront about my hostility towards Leftist ideals,  the reality in results from Leftist programs, the political methods that Leftists employ, the contempt of Leftists for liberty, and the lack of honesty in which Leftists engage in public discourse.   This bias also affected my initial assumptions regarding this study: my initial assumption for this study was that the FBI was allowed to attack the Klan, but then was prevented from conducting operations against the New Left.  Although there were differences in how operations were conducted based upon political factors, my assumption was incorrect.

Mitigating Research Efforts

          The main effort I will need to make is in identifying bias in interpretation, especially my own bias.  The loss of source records has a lesser impact on my research, as I am basing my study on secondary sources.


Sampson, J. (2012). A guide to quantitative and qualitative dissertation research. Florida State University: Educational Psychology and Learning Systems Faculty Publications.

Steinwall, S. (1986). Appraisal and the FBI Files Case: For Whom Do Archivists Retain Records? American Archivist, 49(1), 52–63.

Theoharis, A. G. (1990). Research note: The FBI and the politics of surveillance, 1908-1985. Criminal Justice Review (Georgia State University), 15(2).


Yes, that is a potential barrier for domestic intelligence work in America, if not for my study. Brig. Gen Wilson described the fusion centers he has worked with as ineffective due to interorganizational conflict (2015).
There are several other hindrances to effective domestic security operations currently. Lesser issues include the "wikipedia-ization" of intelligence, as opposed to the effective "need to know" model; it is in this "wiki" environment that Manning and Snowden were able not only to access intel they had no need of and were able to publicize secrets. Another issue is the irresponsibility of government leaders that place unqualified people into positions of security responsibility, and then have no accountability when things go wrong. We can look to the recent hacking of our databases, in which Chinese government hacked the information about those holding security clearances (Nakashima, 2015, para. 1). The final "lesser" issue is the mass collection approach to intelligence, which is not only ineffective, but illegal. The NSA spying on citizens en masse, leads to the most important issue.

The major issue is the necessity that security agencies operate with the understanding that national security must be balanced with citizen liberty. Jim Sensenbrenner,the author of the PATRIOT Act , had this to say how the Act has been implemented, “I stand by the Patriot Act and support the specific targeting of terrorists by our government, but the proper balance has not been struck between civil rights and American security” (Kravets, 2013, para. 3).

This is an issue that confronts the security community at every level of responsibility (the intelligence community, law enforcement, the military).  Horwitz argues that the Constitution is a "meta-rule of construction" dedicated to "national self-preservation", he stresses the importance of the Presidential Oath as dedicated to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution (2009, pp. 1069-1070). In America this oath is adhered to at the line level throughout the nation; DeShon contends that a “police officer's oath originates within the United States Constitution” (2000, p. 6) and Amerson et al reiterate this at the level of sheriff; “ a sheriff should always perform his or her duties in accordance with the Constitution of the United States” (n.d., p.2). They key to the oath is "national self-preservation". To protect the citizens of this country, security personnel must be aware of political interference, and be prepared to counter it. National security should not be allowed to be suborned by political pandering. Note that the oath is to the Constitution,  not to a grandstanding politician, not to any given law that is unconstitutional, and especially not to any law that threatens national security.

DeShon, R. W. (2000). Police officers oath of office and code of ethics a question of knowledge. Eastern Michigan University School of Police Staff and Command Retrieved May 12, 2015 from http://www.dejurerepublicformichigan.org/files/OATH_ETHICS.pdf

Horwitz, P. (2009). Honor’s constitutional moment: The oath and presidential transitions. Northwestern University Law Review, 103(2), 1067–1080. Retrieved May 12, 2015 from http://search.proquest.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/docview/233344356?pq-origsite=summon

Kravets, D. (2013, September 5). Patriot Act author says NSA is abusing spy law. Wired Magazine. Retrieved May 11, 2015 from http://www.wired.com/2013/09/nsa-abusing-patriot-act/

Nakashima, E. (2015, June 12).  Chinese hack of federal personnel files included security-clearance database.  The Washington Post.  Retrieved July 8, 2015 from

Wilson, C. (2015, March). Broadening focus on terrorism: The role of finance, economics, and organized crime. Panel discussion at the 2015 52nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Criminal Justice Scientists.


I added the IACP study to my library; thank  you for the link.  Unfortunately, the study of use of force can be subject to political pressures.  You may want to check out http://www.aele.org/ (Americans for Effective Law Enforcement) for more information regarding use of force and legal standards.  Look at their Monthly Law Journal archives.

As for time to research, I hope the following article can help you:

For the theoretical base of your study, the bureaucratic politics model, in which organizations (and the people within them) seek to protect the institution rather than the mission the institution is tasked with may apply,  The theory is a variation of, and also known as growth complex theory and/or Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

If there is one thing this degree plan has taught me, it's the spelling of bureaucracy.  I had been very content to spell it as "burro-cracy" previously.

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