“Worse than the Gestapo.” —Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi hunter, about the Stasi.
By Eliana Benador
#StopWatchingUs: “A Rally Against Mass Surveillance”
President Obama has been playing with fire, pushing Americans around under the watchful eye of Congress. And the result is showing.
Stop Watching Us is an organization of 100 public advocacy groups, among them the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom Works, as well as individuals like Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei and Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who interviewed Edward Snowden and helped him expose many of the NSA’s surveillance procedures.
They organized a rally last Saturday, October 26 -the 12th anniversary of the US Patriot Act. The event began at 11:30 am and took place in Washington, D.C.
As expected, the rally has been vastly under-reported by the American mainstream media, Mr. Obama’s para-official state media.
People are fed up with being tossed around by the Obama apparatus. In what is supposed to have been the largest privacy rally in American history, they were demanding an end to the mass NSA surveillance, inside the United States and abroad.
It is evident that ever since Edward Snowden open the Pandora box labeled NSA, last May 2013, Americans have learned and continue to experience, by painful bits, how their privacies are being curtailed. And, that’s the tip of the iceberg.
Although the magnitude of the activities of the NSA are unknown and probably cannot presently be fathomed, it is important that Americans show Obama and his Administration that they will not tolerate this kind of abuse.
In fact, Snowden, released a statement in support of the rally:
“In the last four months, we’ve learned a lot about our government. We’ve learned that the US Intelligence Community secretly built a system of pervasive surveillance.
Today, no telephone in America makes a call without leaving a record with the NSA. Today, no Internet transaction enters or leaves America without passing through the NSA’s hands. Our representatives in Congress tell us this is not surveillance. They’re wrong.
We’ve also learned this isn’t about red or blue party lines. Neither is it about terrorism.
It is about power, control, and trust in government; about whether you have a voice in our democracy or decisions are made for you rather than with you. We’re here to remind our government officials that they are public servants, not private investigators.
This is about the unconstitutional, unethical, and immoral actions of the modern-day surveillance state and how we all must work together to remind government to stop them. It’s about our right to know, to associate freely, and to live in an open society.
We are witnessing an American moment in which ordinary people from high schools to high office stand up to oppose a dangerous trend in government.
We are told that what is unconstitutional is not illegal, but we will not be fooled. We have not forgotten that the Fourth Amendment in our Bill of Rights prohibits government not only from searching our personal effects without a warrant but from seizing them in the first place.
Holding to this principle, we declare that mass surveillance has no place in this country.
It is time for reform. Elections are coming and we’re watching you.”
WHY WORRY ABOUT SURVEILLANCE?
The former East Germany has infamously led in this field. Few Americans may have heard about the “Stasi”, the East German state police, part of the Ministry of State Security or Ministerium für Staatssicherheit, founded on February 8, 1950, until the Fall of the Wall that marked the end of East Germany, on October 4th, 1990.
Stasi existed forty long years, enough to perfect its machinery of oppression, espionage, international terrorism and subversion, in the name of providing “full protection” to East Germans.
When the regime collapsed, the Stasi had 102,000 full-time officers and noncommissioned personnel on its rolls, including 11,000 members of the ministry’s own special guards regiment. Between 1950 and 1989, a total of 274,000 persons served in the Stasi.
Comparatively speaking, the Stasi was much worse than the Gestapo. According to Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, “The Gestapo had 40,000 officials watching a country of 80 million while the Stasi employed 102,000 to control only 17 million.” Besides, the Nazi horror lasted ‘only’ twelve years.
In “Revenge versus the Rule of Law,” author John O’Koehler, states that “To ensure that the people would become and remain submissive, East German communist leaders saturated their realm with more spies than had any other totalitarian government in recent history.
The Soviet Union’s KGB employed about 480,000 full-time agents to oversee a nation of 280 million, which means there was one agent per 5,830 citizens. Using Wiesenthal’s figures for the Nazi Gestapo, there was one officer for 2,000 people. The ratio for the Stasi was one secret policeman per 166 East Germans.
When the regular informers are added, these ratios become much higher: In the Stasi’s case, there would have been at least one spy watching every 66 citizens! When one adds in the estimated numbers of part-time snoops, the result is nothing short of monstrous: one informer per 6.5 citizens. It would not have been unreasonable to assume that at least one Stasi informer was present in any party of ten or twelve dinner guests.”
Like a giant octopus, the Stasi’s tentacles probed every aspect of life. Full-time officers were posted to all major industrial plants.
Without exception, one tenant in every apartment building was designated as a watchdog reporting to an area representative of the Volkspolizei (Vopo), the People’s Police. In turn, the police officer was the Stasi’s man.
If a relative or friend came to stay overnight, it was reported. Schools, universities, and hospitals were infiltrated from top to bottom.
German academe was shocked to learn that Heinrich Fink, professor of theology and vice chancellor at East Berlin’s Humboldt University, had been a Stasi informer since 1968. After Fink’s Stasi connections came to light, he was summarily fired. Doctors, lawyers, journalists, writers, actors, and sports figures were co-opted by Stasi officers, as were waiters and hotel personnel.
Tapping about 100,000 telephone lines in West Germany and West Berlin around the clock was the job of 2,000 officers.
Stasi officers knew no limits and had no qualm when it came to “protecting the party and the state.” Churchmen, including high officials of both Protestant and Catholic denominations, were recruited en masse as secret informers. Their offices and confessionals were infested with eavesdropping devices. Even the director of Leipzig’s famous Thomas Church choir, Hans-Joachim Rotch, was forced to resign when he was unmasked as a Spitzel, the people’s pejorative for a Stasi informant.
Absolutely nothing was sacred to the secret police.
AMERICA TERRORIZING AMERICA
Surveillance is not only surveillance, but the mechanism that can facilitate terrorizing the population. Useful tools to terrorize, after surveillance, are coercion, imprisonment, torture and death.
That is what the Stasi did, as it is recorded.
In similar cases, coercion has forced relatives to tell on relatives, and children on parents.
In the case of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, all of that was recorded, as were the punishments included mutilation of ears, fingers, hands, feet, burns by cigarette, plus de remains of 400,000 found in various mass graves.
In America there are already ten concentration camps, though no one knows why do they exist. Will that be apparent soon?
When privacy of people is violated by the NSA surveillance, it is an attack that takes away from them the dignity to have a private life.
It is as though the police would randomly enter a home with no search warrant. And as such, it must be unacceptable and must not be tolerated.
Obama’s Cairo Speech in 2009 was an insult to America and to the autonomy of a country, Egypt, and their legitimate President, Mr. Mubarak, who until then had been, somehow, an ally. Instead, Mr. Obama showed his allegiance to the Muslim Brotherhood.
While the President is keen in recording each sigh of Americans, he has wide opened the doors to one of the principal promoters of terrorism, the Muslim Brotherhood, many of whose members are part of the Obama Administration. His Administration has given them enough clearance to learn state secrets and access to essential jobs to help shape American politics.
Yet, this rogue President and his thuggish Administration have had the audacity to cowardly encourage stripping Americans of the intimate details of their private lives.
The issue of safety is non-partisan . Therefore, it is time that Americans unite. The cause is one and the people should be one.
It was a big mistake electing Barack Hussein Obama and his team to lead the country.
His ill will does not exclude democrats. Joblessness and unemployment also hit Americans of all venues, regardless of either party. Attacks against the military are equally non-partisan. The security issue does not make any difference either between democrats and republicans. The Obamacare impositions also affect both. Etcetera.
Thanks to Snowden, people have been alerted. Slowly they are beginning to understand what the government incursion in their private lives will mean, because no one now feels free to speak over the phone, or email, or browse the internet. International callers are also reluctant to speak to friends or relatives in America.
Naturally, the situation could deteriorate beyond the wildest imagination and largely exceed the Stasi abuses, considering the internet extraordinary performance and its possibility to amass an infinite amount of data in much less space than could ever have been expected.
Americans are beginning to be fed up with the excesses and the crimes and misdemeanors of the Obama Administration. Conforming with dictatorship is not really compatible with the agonizing American Dream that badly needs to be resuscitated.
Totalitarianism is the total and absolute control of the population. Spying is not among the presidential functions and it is pernicious to everything, including America’s deteriorating influence in world affairs.
The European Parliament has recently voted to suspend its SWIFT data exchange agreement with the US following concerns that they are spying in the EU and not only trying to combat terrorism. Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has inquired with the American President if he spied on her.
As the respected Andrew Malcolm writes: “Obama assures Merkel U.S. is not spying on her phone and won’t do it again.” But, latest news report that Barack Hussein Obama has been aware of the spy program on the Chancellor.
American democrats and republicans alike, may be wondering where did the dream go.
Hopefully, united, they may soon decide that it is time to obstruct President Obama’s way to destroy America from inside -and save the dwindling reputation that once represented America’s Exceptionalism in the world.
“Now it’s time for the government to learn from us… Join us in sending the message.”
Signed: Stop Watching Us
God bless America.
Copyright ©Eliana Benador
Eliana Benador is a global strategist, a political operative and a human rights activist. She has been the founder of Benador Associates. She has represented dissidents abroad from Iraq, Iran, the Copts and others. Her blog is Eliana’s Choice. You may follow her on Twitter, join her fan page on Facebook and you may find her also on LinkedIn.