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Got Milk? Get Investigated

By David E. Gumpert

THE NATION

May 27, 2008

The undercover agent takes two guises in our national consciousness. At one extreme is the highly trained professional who risks his or her life to go after the worst drug dealers and mobsters. At the other extreme is the apolitical and poorly trained apparatchik, designated by a bureaucratic superior to infiltrate a group deemed subversive or otherwise troublesome to authorities. The infiltrator may even become a provocateur as a way to give the authorities an excuse to crack down. Government agents did a lot of this during the 1960s, while monitoring civil rights and far-left organizations. At this end of the spectrum, the work is not only unglamorous but ethically questionable. Who wants to rat on their fellow citizens asserting rights guaranteed by the Constitution, like free speech, assembly and those not even mentioned because they seem so obvious, like consuming the foods of their choice?

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