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Homeland Security: The Sworn Duty of Public Officials

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Early version of research question

The following material was written out of the paper, but the difference in how my research question for the project developed is worth noting, as well as the discussion on the Liberal Theory of Internal Security, which I dropped for a bureaucratic politics model.

Research Questions
            The main question of this study is whether or not the affects of political factors had any affect on difference between the two operations.   This question can not be answered fully without a complete accounting of subordinate questions.  It is necessary to determine whether government agencies acted improperly.   Thus it becomes necessary to answer these underlying questions:
·       Were both groups legitimate domestic threats? 
·       Was there a difference in the ways that operations were conducted against the two groups?
·       Can any such differences be accounted for by political factors?

            The purpose of the methodology is to clarify what this thesis is asking by explaining how it is asking those questions.  Accordingly, the theory which potentially explain the differences, the general approach to the study shall be discussed, the frames of reference will be explained, the rationale for using these methods will be given, and potential issues in the study will be highlighted.
            The theory which best explains COINTELPRO operations is the base position is that the Liberal Theory of Internal Security. Political liberals of the 1950s played a part in formalizing the role of the FBI in domestic intelligence by taking an "approach to internal security that supported the delegation of authority to a strong central domestic intelligence agency" (Keller, 1989, p. 29).  The theory is contrasted against three models of domestic intelligence agencies; the domestic intelligence bureau, a political police, and an independent security state within the overall state (Keller, 1989, p. 13).  These models are defined on a matrix of levels of autonomy within the overall state and insularity (Keller, 1989, p. 19).   The domestic intelligence bureau can be characterized as the weakest in power of the three models, with strong oversight by the State.  The political police model holds a middle position by taking an aggressive counter intelligence posture, but lacking full discretionary power over it's actions.  The independent security state not only conducts domestic security operations aggressively, but maintains insularity from the State.  Keller maintains there are three "pillars" to this theory:  locality, in which “”wide investigative authority had been conferred on the FBI through delegation of inherent executive powers” (Keller, 1989, p. 58); prevention; and contingency based on emergency situations (1989, pp. 58-59).
            The primary method used is comparative historical inquiry.  There will also be some use of phenomenological research,  as the viewpoints of Hoover assistants Sullivan and DeLoach will be examined.
            Data will be obtained from secondary sources.  These will include academic studies, Congressional hearings, government studies, and biographical sources.  The scope of this data and potential bias will be discussed in the literature review section of this thesis.

Frames of References
            What is the mission of the FBI?  The mission of the FBI, under the frame of reference for this thesis, is to protect the country from domestic threats. 
            How is the comparison of operations between COINTELPRO: WHITE HATE and COINTELPRO: NEW LEFT to be made?   Comparisons of operations will be made on three base: longevity of the program, number of operations conducted, and the severity of operations.
            Should New Left operations be counted as a subset as counter communist operations, or on its own merits?  The term “New Left” should be interpreted as referring specifically to the New Left in America, unless otherwise stated.  It is within reasonable interpretation to interpret COINTELPRO: NEW LEFT operations in aggregate with other anti-Communist/anti-socialist operations, but for the purposes of this thesis,  COINTELPRO: NEW LEFT is being considered as a discrete set of data.
            What is a legitimate domestic threat?  This distinction is necessary to justify operations.  Issues of violence are fairly clear, but where does a criminal act become a domestic security threat?  America does not have a legal history of defining political crime; "Even though the only crime defined in the United States Constitution, treason, is a political offense, neither this nor the other criminal offenses erected and used to preserve political order and governmental authority have ever been so designated" (Kittrie & Wedlock, 1998, p. xxxii).  Subversion, although the target of FBI operations, was never defined in legal terms for the FBI to adhere to.  Even Truman's formalization of the FBI's duty to counter subversion did not specify what subversion consisted of (Keller, 1989, p. 49).  For the purposes of this thesis, then, we will define a legitimate domestic threat as any organized use of extra-legal means and threat of violence to enforce a political agenda.
            Operational definitions will need to be provided for the following terms; politics, politics of the personal, and subversion.  These will be provided in the Literature Review.

Keller, W. W. (1989). The liberals and J. Edgar Hoover: Rise and fall of a domestic intelligence  state. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.
Kittrie, N. N., & Wedlock, E. D. (Eds.). (1998). The tree of liberty: a documentary history of    rebellion and political crime in America (Rev. ed). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University        Press.

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