There is no justification for mass surveillance after 9/11. It is illegal under US constitution. That Germans who know so much about the Stasi now seem so indifferent about mass surveillance troubles McGovern. The argument that one has nothing to hide would be totally naïve. It would be the administration to decide about how to use the data. Blackmailing would be only one of many possibilities. There is a need for Edward Snowdens also in Germany as the Netzpolitik scandal shows, says Murray. In the US, these journalists would now likely be in prison. We are living there in the US in a “new Stasi state”. But as in the US, German media would downplay the issue. But journalists should keep going against the threat of a surveillance state. “It's a danger to us all”.
Ray McGovern, former senior CIA analyst whose duties included preparing the President’s Daily Brief and chairing National Intelligence Estimates. He was an analyst of Russian foreign policy for the first decade of his 27-year career with the CIA. McGovern is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Elizabeth Murray, served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Theresia Reinhold: From the perspective as former secret service analysts and American citizens: How do you perceive the form in which political debate about the mass surveillance by secret services in held in Germany? And in which way does is differ from the US-American way?
Ray McGovern: Well, I would simply say, that what happened after 9/11 was totally illegal under our constitution. Most people know that. The Fourth Amendment prohibits illegal searches and seizures. You have to have a valid warrant, based on probable cause. So, unless we are all probably terrorists to the United States, there is no justification for what they've been doing. Now, what troubles me, is that the people here in Germany, who know about the Stasi, and many of them have seen the film "Das Leben der Anderen" – now they seem to be so blasé about that. Some of them say: "Well, I've got nothing to hide." After Ed Snowden made his revelations, someone asked the fellow from the Stasi, who is Colonel – his name is Wolfgang Schmidt. They said: "Wolfgang, what do you think about these people who say 'I have nothing to hide'?" And he said: "This is incredibly naive. That is why they collect this information. The only way to prevent if from being used against you is to prevent it from being collected in the first place!" And he has it exactly right. You don't get to decide, how that information is used. The Behörden, the Stasi, or the Stasi-like folks do. And blackmail is just one way that can be used.
Elizabeth Murray: So, I was very interested in the outcome of the netzpolitik scandal in Germany, because in my opinion, the two journalists that were responsible for coming out with this information that the German services we're ramping up their domestic surveillance of Germans – and correct me, if I don't have that wrong – it's really wonderful that these journalists are still walking out freely on the streets of Germany. I'm concerned that if the same incident had happened in the United States, that these journalists might actually be behind bars, because of our National Defense Authorization Act, and other sort of laws that came out after 9/11, that have really put a damper on the civil liberties of Americans. Many Americans now, since 9/11 really don't feel free to speak their minds openly. They're concerned that they might lose their jobs. They're concerned that they might be compromised in some way, in their lives. But there is this unfortunate complacency in the States: "Well I have nothing to hide". Well, if we have nothing to hide, then why are we being surveyed, right? I am just trying to make it quick, because I know of the time, but a big part of this that the mass media, both in the United States and in Germany – I believe – are downplaying this issue. There was an outpouring after Edward Snowden’s revelations. And I think there was a real momentum in Germany, to bring Edward Snowden here. But all of a sudden, cold water was poured on that, and I don't think anyone talks about bringing Edward Snowden to Germany anymore. I think that ... that was not going to happen, "we don't want to offend our American ally". I worry about the civil liberties of Germans. I though at first it was only American post-9/11 err but this is spreading now. And I think that a big part of this is just diminished play in the media. It's not front and center in the minds of Germans now. I think it needs to be. I hope there will be Snowden-like whistleblowers in Germany. I hope we'll have more netzpolitik journalists that continue to tell the truth here. Because it's very much needed, and it very much needs to be in our mind at all times. Otherwise the surveillance state will take over. Right now in the United States we're living a new Stasi state. It has really become like that. So, please continue to do your job as a journalist. Report this information and speak out about the need for Germans to be aware of this surveillance issue. It's a danger to us all.