Intelligence: The Gestapo Still Spreads Fear

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April 29,2008: Three members of the German Federal Intelligence Service (the BND) were fired after it was discovered that they had planted a computer program on the PC of an Afghan government minister, and were monitoring his communications. The use of such techniques in espionage work is much talked about, but rarely seen exposed. The incident was revealed via a German parliamentary investigation of BND operations. Ever since World War II, Germany has kept close watch on its intelligence agencies. This is to prevent the reappearance of something like the dreaded World War II era Gestapo (Nazi secret police.) During the Cold War, this sometimes made it difficult for the intelligence services to fight foreign spies, or domestic terrorism. At times, the restrictions were loosened temporarily, in order to deal with an obvious and immediate danger (like the domestic leftist terrorists of the 1970s). But once that threat was taken care of, the restrictions were resumed. After the Cold War, it was discovered that the East German espionage efforts were very successful in West Germany. The East Germans developed a secret police service (the Stasi) the Gestapo would have been proud of, and Germans today are both ashamed of that, and believe it justifies keeping their intel people on a short leash.

The BND has been given some slack to deal with Islamic terrorism, but parliament, and the media, continue to watch over the secret police, just in case. The current scandal goes back to the fact that six of the twenty Afghan cabinet minister speak German, and spent part of their exile (during the Soviet invasion) in Germany. Some of these ministers went to German universities and all have contacts in Germany. Why this would warrant this degree of surveillance was not revealed.

 


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