Recent scandals involving the German domestic intelligence service have brought into public discussion various abuses of power by the spy agency. These include the usual forms of corruption, such as the misuse of the agency to settle internal factional rivalries and bring down political opponents of those who hold power. However, in a decades-old operation that may be unique to Germany, the intelligence service also essentially creates and manages the neo-Nazi party (NPD) as a means of thoroughly and permanently discrediting any right-wing opposition.
As these flagrant abuses come to light, the proposed solution is to overcome the dispersed federal nature of the agency by centralizing it further, and eventually subsuming it within the all-powerful European super-state. Oh, yes — that’s bound to fix everything!
Many thanks to JLH for translation this article from Junge Freiheit:
Constitution Without Protection
by Michael Paulwitz
Resignations, cover-up scandals, a federal minister who sees “pressing need for reform” and intends to “clamp down hard,” Green-Red-Left opposition voices who would like to completely do away with the intelligence service — wrap it all up together with the suspected “Zwickau Terror Cell” and respect for the intelligence service is down the tubes. The political class has no answer to the central question: Does Germany need a domestic intelligence service, and if so, to what purpose?
In their present configuration at any rate, the “slouch hats” are not just superfluous, but harmful to the rule of law and to democracy. This is related, first, to the service’s structure — divided into a federal office and sixteen state authorities. In practice, federalization means dissipation among the provinces, ineffectiveness and incompetence in information-sharing. This formal division, meant to be a barrier against totalitarian abuse of the police, in reality fosters absurd dogfights and mutual spying and obstructionism.
“Cascades of Suspicion”
The intelligence service is discredited even more basically by the contradictory smorgasbord of its tasks. These tasks, both necessary and required by national policy — combating terrorism, protection of state and economic secrets, counterespionage — are constantly coming second to the continually expanding political abuse of particular intelligence authorities as “protection of the establishment” in the battle and discrimination against unwelcome opinions, media and parties.
The greatest mistakes and scandals of intelligence offices occur in precisely this area. The observation of alleged and actual rightist and leftist extremists has become officially organized denunciation and snooping into thoughts, which do not protect, but undermine the rule of law and the constitution. The “communicating of suspicions” in intelligence reports which was pilloried by constitutional expert Dieter Murswiek, and which constructed unproven “cascades of suspicion” against individual organs of the press and parties and thus limited their constitutional rights, was branded as illegal in the Junge Freiheit verdict of 2005 and in the “Republican verdict” of 2006, and yet it continues.
The NPD Is Arguably Being Guided Rather Than “Watched”
The infiltration especially of the right extremist scene by intelligence agents and informants has long since assumed proportions which far exceed an already questionable intelligence investigation. Indeed, the failure of the NPD ban proceedings gives an inkling that this favorite object of the “Battle against the Right” is being guided rather than “watched” by the secret service. From the intelligence agent Bernd Schmitt, who instructed the later Solingen arsonists in his martial arts school, to the long-standing agent and NPD functionary Tino Brandt, head of the “Thuringian Domestic Defense,” whose milieu also stems from the Zwickau Terror Cell, the leading role of intelligence service people in the building up and financing of right extremist structures or “fellowships” and their involvement in spectacular right extremist criminal acts, reveals the core of the problem. The “protectors of the constitution” do not “clandestinely make pacts with Nazis,” as the left and Turkish organizations like to allege. They put it all together themselves, in order to frighten citizens with this bugbear and justify their own existence.
This state-managed extremism — the beyond-all-measure-and-purpose exploitation of the “Constitution Protection” agency for the “Battle against the Right” — is the real root of the NSU scandal. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich’s (CSU) suggestions aiming at a stronger centralization of the structures, consequently, are merely scratching the surface of the abuses. It would be logical to remove the “Constitution Protection” agency from the political battle of opinions and restrict it to its core tasks
in counter-intelligence and defending against terrorism.
A Pre-Democratic Relic of Spying on Citizens
To have a secret service spying on our thoughts is certainly a pre-democratic relic. Prosecution of politically motivated crimes is best eliminated in the intelligence agency. It is true that provincial offices of criminal investigation are not immune to politically prescribed extremism, as the case “Axel Reichert” demonstrates — the covert agent who built up a neo-Nazi “fellowship” of young soccer fans in Karlsruhe, and pumped it full of NS ideology. The obstacles to it, however, are incomparably higher.
Admittedly, no one in the political class is ready to give up “Constitution Protection as Establishment Protection” for the dirty work in a battle against an unwelcome opposition. Certainly not on the Left, where no one blinks at spying on citizens and intimidating them through the intelligence agency, as long as it is only “against the Right.” If Red and Green ask for the de-commissioning of the intelligence service, then it would only be so that they could privatize it completely and pass it on to their like-minded friends in the “Antifa.”
The question remains: who is supposed to protect the constitution, when the truly dangerous enemies of the constitution have for a long time now gone by the names Merkel or Schäuble, Steinmeieer or Trittin and are in the process of doing away with Germany as a democratic nation-state and erecting a European super-state. The only halfway functioning protector of the constitution which could still put a spoke in their wheel is the constitutional court.
1. The standard term for the intelligence service is Verfassungsschutz, which translates literally as “defense or protection of the constitution”. The author’s title deconstructs the word as a negative phrase to make his point. 2. The case failed in the high court for the simple reason that too many members of the intelligence agency were members of the NPD.