June 12, 2013
Country formerly run by Nazis accuses US of using 'Stasi tactics'
Yes, I am going there. If the Germans want to know when the world will "forget" that the overwhelming majority of them supported Adolf Hitler, the answer is never. Thus, they have zero moral standing to be criticizing anyone or any other country when it comes to matters like the NSA surveillance programs.
German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman has said she will raise the issue with Obama in talks next Wednesday, potentially casting a cloud over a visit that was designed to celebrate U.S.-German ties on the 50th anniversary John F. Kennedy's famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.
Government surveillance is an extremely sensitive topic in Germany, where memories of the dreaded Stasi secret police and its extensive network of informants are still fresh in the minds of many citizens.
In a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said reports that the United States could access and track virtually all forms of Internet communication were "deeply disconcerting" and potentially dangerous.
"The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is," she said.
"The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table."
Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel's Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament, went further, accusing Washington of using "American-style Stasi methods".
"I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell," he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.
Opposition parties have jumped on the issue, keen to put a dampener on the Merkel-Obama talks and prevent them from boosting the chancellor as she gears up for a September parliamentary election in which she is seeking a third term.
"This looks to me like it could become one of the biggest data privacy scandals ever," Greens leader Renate Kuenast told Reuters.
Well, Mr. Green leader, Germans know all about invasions of privacy. In addition to the dreaded Stasi, you can always recall with fondness the actions of the Gestapo. The fact is, Hitler and Himmler could only dream of possessing the kind of technology the NSA is employing in their survelliance programs. Imagine what they would have accomplished if they possessed it.
It doesn't bother me in the slightest that the NSA is spying on foreigners. That's their job. Constitutional protections do not cross the Atlantic ocean and cover the Europeans. We spy on them, they spy on us; and this is news? The faux outrage from the grandchildren of the perpetrators and supporters of the Holocaust rings hollow, indeed.
We will never forget the slavish devotion of the overwhelming majority of German people to the Hitler regime. When it comes to criticizing the United States for anything, the Germans should keep their mouths shut and their heads down.
Just to play the devil's advocate, do Germans born after the war have no right to criticize the US?
They're still skewering us for slavery. Whats the difference?
Not to mention Jim Crow and Viet Nam.
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