chapter  6
18 Pages

Surveillance and Break-ins

Surveillance is the ongoing observation of a person or group when that person or group is suspected of being involved in criminal or radical political activity. In fact, as u.S. history has demonstrated, criminality and dissident politics have often been conflated, and the criminalization of dissent, which is often used to rationalize extensive surveillance of dissident citizens, is often justified by harkening to the defense of national security interests. The protection of perceived national security interests is carried out by the domestic political surveillance apparatus, which in the United States has historically consisted of three interrelated networks: local police, the FBI, and Military Intelligence (Cowan, Egleson and Hentoff 1974, 4). Of these, the FBI and the police-often operating in tandem-are the most important, especially today. Surveillance of dissident citizens is one of the most common Modes of Suppression. In part this is because it can generate such intense, reverberative effects at a relatively small cost. Many dissidents who have fomented intense challenges to the status quo have been placed under state surveillance.