Democratic autocrats and autocratic democrats

Today I’d like to present to you two fascinating links about the NSA-scandal. The first is a reaction from a former STASI-Officer (secret police in Eastern Germany) about the NSA-Leaks. I’d like to emphasis the following:

“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi.

In those days, his department was limited to tapping 40 phones at a time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new victim and an old one had to be dropped, because of a lack of equipment. He finds breathtaking the idea that the U.S. government receives daily reports on the cellphone usage of millions of Americans and can monitor the Internet traffic of millions more.

“So much information, on so many people,” he said.

But there is redemption later on:

“It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”

As a former secret service operative he knows the procedures of such agencies. He has insights in the internal structures and logic that drives surveillance in authoritarian regimes such as the former GDR. His insights are quite helpful to understand the scale of the NSA surveillance which is not limited anymore. Whereas the STASI monitored it’s own population and had some spies in the Western democracies, the NSA established total surveillance in the name of terror prevention, which is a lame excuse and used to legitimize authoritarian tendencies all over the world.

Speaking of which. Now I’d like to present you an interview of Germany’s president Joachim Gauck who himself lived in the former GDR and is often labeled a former “activist” against the GDR-Regime. It is noteworthy, that he himself always emphasizes the    peaceful resistance against the GDR-regime and the special role of freedom in modern societies. Freedom is his actual catchphrase. Now read this:

Gauck called for more information, which law- breaking Snowden had uncovered. “Then my understanding of such individuals grows.” Gauck drew the comparison to the Armed Forces: Each soldier had the right to resist when human rights should not violated. “We have not blind obedience.” For “pure betrayal,” said Gauk, “or the exceeding of duty that you have signed for,  I have no understanding.”

There is no redemption here, only:

He did not wanted to criticize the  spying programs flat out. “We do not want a society in which what has been won with so much difficulty, and we don’t want our liberties being eroded. That is why I’m awake, when it comes to organizing security.” He did not want his family or anyone in the country would knowingly leave a danger. “I want defense, but they must be proportionate.”

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