RED BANK, NJ – In a Keynote presentation at Business Facilities LiveXchange, former FBI special agent and whistleblower Mike German called for a new national strategy to root out law enforcement professionals, including police officers, with links to white supremacist groups like the Proud Boys.
German—who spent years undercover among the most violent racist and reactionary groups in the U.S.—said the Department of Justice and the FBI have “as a matter of policy and practice” failed to address the scourge of hate crimes committed by violent extremists annually in the U.S., refusing to deploy dozens of federal statutes they could use to prosecute these extremists.
In his Oct. 27 Keynote, Domestic Threats to Democracy, at LiveXchange in Tucson, AZ, German said the DOJ prosecutes only about 24 cases each year out of the estimated 230,000 hate crimes that occur annually in the United States.
By deferring to state and local law enforcement on initiating hate-crime prosecutions, the nation’s top law enforcement officials can’t even measure the scope of the problem, he said, noting that local prosecutors avoid charging suspects with hate crimes because they don’t want to give their community a bad reputation.
“Imagine you’re trying to attract new businesses to your location and you have to say the cops have arrested people involved in local hate crimes,” he told the LiveX audience of economic development professionals and corporate site selectors.
German’s recommendations include requiring the FBI to scour its investigations and prosecutions to find any active links between law enforcement professionals and white supremacist groups. Under a new national strategy, he said, these links would trigger action by the Department of Justice.
Calling the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol the “textbook definition of domestic terrorism,” German warned that the participation of numerous law enforcement professionals in the violent mob that stormed the Capitol should alert everyone to the reach of white supremacist groups and would-be fascists who want to usurp the government.
“People misunderstand the extent of their reach. It’s not just the guys with swastika tattoos. These groups have an instruction manual that tells them to put on a suit and infiltrate [mainstream institutions],” said German, who authored a 2020 Brennan Center for Justice report, Hiding in Plain Sight, which details the large number of law enforcement professionals who have joined domestic extremist groups.
“We don’t know how widespread this is,” German said. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
German is the author of Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide: How the New FBI Damages Democracy. The book chronicles how the FBI transformed itself after the 9/11 attacks into the most secretive domestic intelligence agency the country has ever seen.
A 16-year veteran of federal law enforcement, German served as an FBI special agent specializing in domestic terrorism and covert operations. He left the FBI in 2004 after reporting continuing deficiencies in FBI counterterrorism operations to Congress. In 2014, German became a Fellow at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Reservations are now being accepted for next year’s LiveXchange event, which will take place April 3 -5 at the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Charlotte, NC. For more information, contact Neil Eisenberg at [email protected].