THE PRIVATE SECTOR: Rent-A-Cops, Private Spies, and the Police-Industrial Complex by George O'Toole

THE PRIVATE SECTOR: Rent-A-Cops, Private Spies, and the Police-Industrial Complex

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Age Range: 10 - 15
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KIRKUS REVIEW

O'Toole's diligent mapping of rent-a-cops, security guards, intelligence services, wiretappers, and industrial espionage outfits makes it clear that this growth industry has left both Pinkerton and Sam Spade far behind. Wary rather than frantic, O'Toole looks at such powers as the Wackenhut Corporation, which under the guise of investigating the Mob in Florida became a partisan force in that state's politics; Intertel, the elite intelligence-gathering organization that whisked Howard Hughes to the Bahamas; and Bell Telephone which, unlike the government, can tap anyone's phone at will. These organizations, as well as the security forces of major airlines, oil companies, and the automobile and electronics industries augment their power with top executives who are frequently alumni of the FBI, CIA, or the municipal police. O'Toole, himself a former CIA specialist, finds Old Boy networks such as the Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI particularly threatening; informal civilian auxiliaries of the Bureau, they form a kind of ""private police subculture"" which invisibly--and often irresponsibly--extends or circumvents government power. Many of the abuses of private police powers which O'Toole airs here will be familiar to readers on the lookout for illegal surveillance scandals, but there is no doubt that the ""police-industrial complex""--growing at the rate of 10-15 percent annually--looms larger and focuses more sharply as a result of his compendium.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1978
Publisher: Norton