Discretion and National Policy: National Law Enforcement and Veterans Affairs Abuses

  • Steven G. KovenEmail author


Many federal government agencies operate with relatively little external oversight in an environment that can produce violations of constitutional rights as well as outright fraud. This chapter reviews questionable behavior in large federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Veterans Administration (VA). Historical abuses under Director J. Edgar Hoover and the more recent questionable behavior of Director James Comey underscore the need to place limits on the discretionary power of national law enforcement organizations. Hoover’s actions raise questions about violations of civil liberties in the name of national security. Comey’s behavior addresses the issue of the intrusion of national law enforcement agents into electoral politics. Whistleblowing as a check on power remains a relevant topic for discussion. The chapter describes how the disclosures of high-ranking FBI official Mark Felt helped to end the presidency of Richard Nixon and how the actions of VA physicians exposed widespread fraud in the system. In the absence of internal disclosures, it is likely that illegal behavior within the government would have continued. Such behavior may even have been adopted as standard operating procedures by bureaucrats seeking personal gain.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA

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