2013/10/31

Protection of liberty - a question of attitude

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The seemingly never-ending NSA spying scandal* and German political establishment's reaction to it are again displaying a specific and troubling attitude:

Our politicians (and not only they) appear to have developed a tolerance for the instruments of oppression as long as they trust the people who control them. As long as these people are some of their kind, as long as they feel affinity to them.
I assert that all politicians holding federal office or Bundestag seats in Germany (or did so during 2013) would readily agree that a tyrant's domestic intelligence service helping the oppression of the people is evil.
Yet I also assert with great confidence that the majority of the very same group can be talked into supporting many vital components and assumptions of such an intelligence service today, here, nominally under Bundestag oversight.

The authors of the (West) German constitution followed a different approach: They were more sceptical about the good nature of politicians and top bureaucrats (guess why) and wrote a constitution which distrusted them as well. Our politicians don't distrust themselves or their own demographic like that.

And it shows.
The FDP (liberal party) - good for very little other than having a minister in the cabinet who blocked domestic surveillance and spying bills et cetera -  was for the first time thrown out of the federal parliament in September's Bundestag election. And the old pro-surveillance, pro-spying bureaucrats and ideologues came back and are pushing for more surveillance, spying, data-gathering.
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Make no mistake: This spying stuff isn't about errorists, even though pointing at evil errorists is still a fashionable and sadly effective PR schtick. These are the very same folks who loudly claimed that the very same kind of more police powers, more intelligence agency powers are needed to fight organised crime (and then rarely used the new powers which they received on organised crime). Sometimes people just yawned when organised crime or errorism was used as bogeymen. They didn't despair, for they had their alternative bogeyman "child pornography". They assumed quite correctly that almost nobody would dare to call their bullocks out, since there were enough fired-up people who would pounce on any such critique in the name of defending children or something.
Errorists are only yet another bogeyman.

reasons for phone surveillance in Germany 2009:
Errorism and child pornography ranked last,
drug trade first (source)
These people want surveillance, they want more power than the police actually needs, they want the tools of tyranny. And it's other peoples' job and in all peoples' best interest to push back and keep the tools of tyranny away.

The problem is that we can't keep them away if people don't take the scenario of dangerous idiots in positions of power seriously any more. Politicians trust themselves, and seemingly cannot imagine that their own group would turn ugly sometime and misuse the tools of tyranny for tyranny.

The people who lived through much darker times had no difficulty imagining such a scenario, they distrusted politicians and they did set up an system of government which distrusted politicians to some degree and did not empower them to flip the country over into a tyranny, having all necessary tools and ideas in place already.

I agree with them. 
We should not install the laws, hardware, procedures or attitude vital to a tyranny, especially not in a chase after bogeymen. Our politicians need to learn more history, need to wisen up and stop pretending there's no need to put a leash on the beast because they're still in control of it.

related (foreign blog): Die Anti-Terror L├╝ge

S O

*: Didn't write much about it, as obviously others already do so. I am flabbergasted how one aspect of the scandal never appears to be mentioned anywhere, ever. I'm still waiting for someone, anyone, to mention it (and me seeing it). Still, I'll write about that particular aspect sooner or later.
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1 comment:

  1. Personally, I do not have a problem with surveillance as such. I do, however, have a big problem with selective enforcement of laws that the surveillance allows. And only way to separate the two, as far as I can see, is to make all results of surveillance immediately public. Which has its own problems.

    As to NSA, I'm kind of split about it. Especially a lot of the recent "revelations" are being hyped too much by the press. Spying on foreign governments is kind of what the NSA is supposed to be doing.

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