Plato's Dreams Realized: Surveillance and Citizen Rights from KGB to FBI
Algora Publishing, Jan 1, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 246 pages
Arrested in the Soviet Union in 1975 for composing and distributing "subversive" pamphlets-compiled of quotes from official Soviet sources-Alexander V. Avakov was sentenced to hard labor in a KGB camp. After serving his sentence, he emigrated to the United States with his family in 1981. Avakov soon found himself subject to the shadowy invasion of FBI surveillance, for no apparent reason; was it for the letters he wrote to friends back home? In his book, Avakov examines the evolution of electronic surveillance as well as the extent of modern "total surveillance," with a consideration of the impact of electronic surveillance on citizen rights, and the philosophical basis for the connection between rights and privacy. "Without privacy, there is no autonomy of person; without autonomy of person, there is no freedom." Yet the United States government employs several legal mechanisms which hinge on innovative uses of electronic surveillance to evade the safeguards that are the pride of America. Such techniques include the use of friendly countries' intelligence services and the Echelon program to avoid the ticklish problem of obtaining warrants. With the "war on terror" and new legislation such as the USA Patriot Act, the US government has been expanding the use of searches without warrants (such as wiretaps and other forms of surveillance) to gather information that technically is supposed to be barred from presentation in criminal court as evidence. The resultant weakening of the exclusionary rule and due process in general violate the Constitution and make a mockery of the freedoms America advertises to the rest of the world. America, he shows, declares high-minded legal ideals but hasconsistently cheated in their implementation. There is logic, tradition, and a stable "modus operandi" in the way the US security apparatus violates the Constitution. The history of political spying in the US, as well as warnings by US legal authorities, point to the dangers of electronic surveillance to human rights. The author outlines various ways in which surveillance of citizens is increasing, then examines the bases of our expectations of liberty, from Plato to the US Constitution. In the tradition of the Russian intelligentsia, he brings a broad knowledge of literature, philosophy, history and legal studies to his analysis. Avakov concludes with a discussion of practical solutions to counter these dangers as suggested in a number of publications.
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3 Philosophy of Rights
The Constitution of the United States
Commentary to the Constitution of the United States
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