Former FBI agent Mike German talks about the NSA

Mike German is a 16-year veteran of the FBI, where he served as a special agent in domestic terrorism. His work led him to resign in 2004 after the implementation of the 9/11 Commission’s reforms. He now works for the ACLU, and shared his experiences upholding his oath with The Daily Caller.

Was your work for the FBI what made you decide that their practices weren’t right?

Absolutely. I had been working for the FBI for 16 years and domestic terrorism for 12 years. What I understood was that the rules that are designed to protect privacy also help the government focus on people who are real threats. It works both ways. This idea that we trade our privacy for more security is just false. Spying on you won’t help the government find a terrorist. It’s a waste of resources, a waste of effort that also violates our rights.

What steps did you take to combat the abuse of civil liberties?

I tried to challenge the system from within, but they don’t like that. They made it very uncomfortable, so I finally realized it was time to work on the outside. I went to Congress and Sen. [Chuck] Grassley and Sen. [Patrick] Leahy, and now I work for the ACLU.

Was there a specific incident that occurred that made you want to leave the FBI?

There was a specific case that I was working on, and I’m still not allowed to talk about it in great detail. But it was a case where, again, the way that the government was putting out why they didn’t connect the dots on 9/11 was they didn’t have enough collection before the event. But as the 500-page book by the 9/11 commission shows, they actually had an awful lot information. It’s the mismanagement that causes the problem and it’s that mismanagement that leads not just to intelligence failures, but to violations of rights. Trying to point that out — that it’s really how the government manages its information — is really the important thing for Congress to focus on.