For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Plato's Dreams Realized: Surveillance and Citizen Rights
From the KGB to the FBI
  • Alexander V. Avakov
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Plato's Dreams Realized: Surveillance and Citizen Rights . From the KGB to the FBI
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Alexander Avakov briefly shares his personal experiences, first in the Soviet Union with the KGB and then with the American national security state, 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.

America, he shows, declared high-minded legal ideals but has consistently cheated in their implementation. There is logic, tradition, and a stable “modus operandi” in the way the American security apparatus violates the Constitution. This book analyzes this “socio-pathology of law” in the U.S. with regard to national security beliefs.


About the Author

Alexander V. Avakov was born in the USSR. Interested in economic statistics since childhood, he accomplished his formal university education in mathematics and mathematical economics with additional studies in economics, philosophy, law, politics, anthropology, sociology and psychology.

As a result of early political maturity he was arrested in 1975 for distributing liberal-minded leaflets at the university. Sentenced to a year and half of hard labor, he was sent to a KGB-run camp for political prisoners. After completing the prison term, he emigrated from the Soviet Union and has since settled with his family in the United States.

Mr. Avakov has published several books with Algora, including Plato’s Dream Realized: Surveillance and Citizen Rights, from KGB to FBI, and a variety of statistical studies analyzing the relative power of nations in terms both economic and military, including undeclared nuclear weapons. Previously published books in Russian include, among others, Autobiography of the Soviet Anti-Soviet Philosopher, and Welcome to the New Security State

About the Book

American democracy is still a model admired around the world, but many Americans and new arrivals alike are shocked by the extent to which the American security apparatus violates the Constitution. This book explores the frontiers of legal...

American democracy is still a model admired around the world, but many Americans and new arrivals alike are shocked by the extent to which the American security apparatus violates the Constitution. This book explores the frontiers of legal theory within the United States with regard to modern surveillance and its effects on human rights. The author shares his personal experiences, first with the KGB and then with the US national security state. This second experience helped him realize the dangers of the routine abuses committed by the US intelligence apparatus.

He gives an overview of documents he was able to receive pursuant the Freedom of Information Act — mostly blacked out, although they describe his own “suspicious” activities, i.e. letter-writing. He broadens the discussion to address the wider issue of electronic surveillance by the government. Former CIA and FBI director William Webster describes the agencies’ use of “spiderweb” electronic surveillance against "foreign agents" with breathtaking directness.

Avakov then examines the art of electronic surveillance as well as the extent of modern “total surveillance,” with a consideration of the impact of electronic surveillance on 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, especially against foreign intelligence “agents,” which hinge on innovative uses of electronic surveillance. Such techniques include the use of friendly countries’ intelligence services and Echelon to avoid the ticklish problem of obtaining warrants.

The information collected by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) used to be barred from presentation in criminal court as evidence, because it entailed a much weaker “probable cause” requirement than domestic surveillance. However, developments in connection with the war on terror, such as the USA Patriot Act, allow the US government use of FISC surveillance information for criminal persecution. The resultant weakening of the exclusionary rule and due process in general violate 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 concludes with a discussion of practical solutions to counter these dangers as suggested in a number of publications.

By way of background, Avakov adds an extensive reading list giving some sense of the breadth of knowledge pursued by an intellectual of international caliber.

Dr. Avakov is also author of a yearbook of economic and military statistics, Quality of Life, Balance of Power, and Nuclear Weapons.
Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION: THE SPELL OF PLATO

1

1. The Subjective: Us Intelligence Greets A Soviet Dissident

3

Introduction: The FBI Was Interested In Me

3

Family And Childhood

3

Youth: Enthusiasm For Economics And Philosophy

5

At The University: Yura Yudkevich Refuses To Take The Military Oath Of Allegiance

5

Leaflets: Psychological Motivator And Convictions

6

Commentary On The Leaflets

8

Investigation And Trial. Encounter With The Committee For State Security (KGB)

10

At The Camp: My Horizons Expand

12

After Camp: A More Dangerous And More Interesting Life

14

Life in the Us: We Are Reaganites

16

Life After 1987

17

What’s Next?

17

2. Is There a Problem of Rights Vs. The National Security State in America?
19

2.1 In Lieu of an Epigraph

19

2.2 Myth and Reality

20

A Political Refugee as an Object of the Attention of US Intelligence

20

A Myth Existing Outside of the USA

20

Freedom of Information/Privacy Act

20

The Request to the Washington Headquarters of the FBI

20

What Does “Disloyal Person” Mean?

21

The Request to the Local Organization of the FBI

22

The Appeal to the FBI

22

The Request to the CIA

22

The Role of the CIA

22

2.3 Why Is There A Question About Electronic Surveillance?

24

Practical Side of the Issue

24

“Spiderweb”

24

Missing Pages

25

A Phantom Court

25

Innovative Surveillance Methods Used by the Government

26

Did September 11 Render Human Rights Concerns Obsolete?

26

What is in Dispute

30

We Do Not Recognize What is in Front of Us

30

Meltdown

31

2.4 Political Spying in the Us

32

Dynamics of Political Spying

32

Transgressions of the 18th Century

33

Undercover Surveillance in the 19th Century

33

Undercover Surveillance in the Beginning of the 20th Century

34

Emergence of Organized Political Spying

35

The Intelligence Culture

39

Rationale for Political Spying

40

Political Spying since the Outset of the Cold War

42

Political Spying in the 1950s

44

Political Spying in the 1960s

47

Political Spying in the 1970s

51

Political Spying in the 1980s

56

Political Spying in the 1990s

59

Political Spying and Rights in the 2000s

60

Lessons of History: State Political Directorate

80

Parallels between the KGB and FBI

81

Additional Political Targets

81

Censorship of Information Related to National Security

81

Do We Need Less Control Over Intelligence in the Wake of 9/11?

82

2.5 The Art Of Surveillance in the United States

83

Definition of Surveillance

83

Tailing

83

Opening of Postal Mail

84

Surreptitious Entry

84

Listening through Walls

84

Seeing through Walls

85

Listening to Conversations Far Away

85

Wiretapping and Eavesdropping (Bugging)

86

Room Surveillance through a Telephone

88

Cellular Interception

88

FAX Interception

88

Pager Interception

...

89

...

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February 2007 Reference & Research Book News | More »

Pages 260
Year: 2006
LC Classification: K3240.A92
Dewey code: 341.4'8--dc22
BISAC: POL035010 POL039000
BISAC: POL014000 POL036000
BISAC: LAW013000
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-494-5
Price: USD 23.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-495-2
Price: USD 29.95
eBook
ISBN: 978-0-87586-496-9
Price: USD 23.95
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