NSA Surveillance Disclosures Recall Days of East German STASI
When Wolfgang Schmidt learned about NSA leaker Edward Snowden’s revelations concerning the agency's ability to collect personal data on millions of American citizens, he was astonished. When he was a lieutenant colonel in East Germany’s secret police, the STASI, his department, was limited to tapping just 40 phones every day. If a decision was made to tap a new phone, one of the others had to be disconnected. Said Schmidt: “For us, this would have been a dream come true ... so much information on so many people!”
Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German Democratic Republic (GDR) employed more than 90,000 people, including 15,000 soldiers in the GDR army and 2,000 full-time collaborators. There were also 175,000 “unofficial” collaborators. One STASI official estimated the total to be closer to 500,000 people, or about five percent of the country’s population at the time.
They were assigned to all major industrial plants as well as schools, universities, and hospitals. Other informants worked as trolley conductors, janitors, doctors, nurses, and teachers — people who had frequent contact with citizens. At its peak the STASI had one informer for every six citizens.
When Malte Spitz, a member of Germany’s Green Party, sued his telephone company, Deutsche Telekom (DT) back in 2010, he learnedthat the new technology is vastly more intrusive than even the STASI in its heyday. The compact disc he received from DT as part of the settlement included more than 35,000 pieces of data that revealed
when Spitz walked down the street, when he took a train, when he was in an airplane. It shows where he was in the cities he visited. It shows when he worked and when he slept, when he could be reached by phone and when [he] was unavailable. It shows when he preferred to talk on his phone and when he preferred to send a text message. It shows which beer gardens he liked to visit in his free time. All in all, it reveals an entire life.
Stefan Wolle, the curator at Berlin’s East German Museum, was able to retrieve the STASI records of their surveillance of his activities and discovered, to his surprise, just how much of it was valueless and banal:
When the wall fell, I wanted to see what the STASI had on me, on the world I knew. A large part of what I found was nothing more that office gossip, the sort of thing people used to say around the water cooler about affairs and gripes, the sort of things that people today put in emails or texts to each other.
The lesson is that when a wide net is cast, almost all of what is caught is worthless.
And therein lies the problem facing the NSA today. As it collects and stores billions of e-mails and texts and phone calls, the amount of data is soaring into the trillions. The question becomes: Who is going to do the sorting, sifting and winnowing of that immensely large quantity of data? Where will these people come from? Who will train them? Who will pay for their education? How will they be able to sort through endless haystacks looking for an occasional needle?
The NSA is facing the “cotton gin” conundrum. With Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793, the cost of producing cotton began slowly to fall. This made the value of each slave rise enormously over the next six decades. In 1790 there were approximately 700,000 slaves, but that number had nearly quintupled by 1860 to 3.2 million. From thewebsite of the Eli Whitney Museum the impact of his invention on slavery is explained:
Whitney (who died in 1825) could not have foreseen the ways in which his invention would change society for the worse. The most significant of these was the growth of slavery. While it was true that the cotton gin reduced the labor of removing seeds, it did not reduce the need for slaves to grow and pick the cotton. In fact, the opposite occurred. Cotton growing became so profitable for the planters that it greatly increased their demand for both land and slave labor. In 1790 there were six slave states; in 1860 there were 15. From 1790 until Congress banned the importation of slaves from Africa in 1808, Southerners imported 80,000 Africans. By 1860 approximately one in three Southerners was a slave.
Here’s the conundrum: As the cost of gathering infinite data on large numbers of people falls essentially to zero, the cost of analyzing and acting on that data will rise dramatically. This will do to high-priced talent what it did to the price of slaves: It will drive it up. As professor Gary North noted in his members-only newsletter: “Computers cannot file lawsuits. They cannot assess the importance of information. They cannot compare raw data to statute law. They cannot evaluate the relevance of raw data for various scenarios.”
This is the bottleneck facing the NSA. It can (and will) collect all the data it wants. It can store it in its data banks in Bluffdale, Utah, Fort Meade, Maryland, and elsewhere. But the bottleneck remains. The “cotton gin” conundrum remains. Who is going to do the sorting? How many will it take? Where will the money come from?
Memories of Stasi color Germans’ view of U.S. surveillance programs
Protestors greeted President Obama when he visited in June. They are upset over the NSA spying. BERLIN — Wolfgang Schmidt was seated in Berlin’s 1,200-foot-high TV tower, one of the few remaining landmarks left from the former East Germany. Peering out over the city that lived in fear when the communist party ruled it, he pondered the magnitude of domestic spying in the United States under the Obama administration. A smile spread across his face.
West Berlin police stand guard behind barbed wire along the new 250-yard massive concrete wall at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, Germany, on Nov. 23, 1961. Beyond the wall, Communists pull down a fiber board screen behind which the building operations took place. (AP Photo) #
“You know, for us, this would have been a dream come true,” he said, recalling the days when he was a lieutenant colonel in the defunct communist country’s secret police, the Stasi. In those days, his department was limited to tapping 40 phones at a time, he recalled. Decide to spy on a new victim and an old one had to be dropped, because of a lack of equipment. He finds breathtaking the idea that the U.S. government receives daily reports on the cellphone usage of millions of Americans and can monitor the Internet traffic of millions more. “So much information, on so many people,” he said. East Germany’s Stasi has long been considered the standard of police state surveillance during the Cold War years, a monitoring regime so vile and so intrusive that agents even noted when their subjects were overheard engaging in sexual intercourse. Against that backdrop, Germans have greeted with disappointment, verging on anger, the news that somewhere in a U.S. government databank are the records of where millions of people were when they made phone calls or what video content they streamed on their computers in the privacy of their homes.
Even Schmidt, 73, who headed one of the more infamous departments in the infamous Stasi, called himself appalled. The dark side to gathering such a broad, seemingly untargeted, amount of information is obvious, he said. “It is the height of naivete to think that once collected this information won’t be used,” he said. “This is the nature of secret government organizations. The only way to protect the people’s privacy is not to allow the government to collect their information in the first place.”
U.S. officials have defended the government collection of information since word of it broke in newspaper stories based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. The records are used only to track down terrorists overseas, officials say. The collection has been carefully vetted by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, a body of U.S. judges whose actions are largely kept secret. There is no misuse.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany, tried to provide an out for President Barack Obama, offering as a possible explanation for the sweeping nature of the U.S. collection efforts that “the Internet is new to all of us.” She was roundly mocked for that statement, and her administration appeared far less forgiving more recently, when similar spying charges were leveled against the British government. Germans are dismayed at Obama’s role in allowing the collection of so much information. Before his presidency, hundreds of thousands of Germans turned out to hear him speak in Berlin. During a visit last week, the setup was engineered to avoid criticism: Obama spoke to a small, handpicked audience, many from the German-American school. Access to the Brandenburg Gate, the backdrop for his speech, was severely limited, as was access to Berlin’s entire downtown.
As many Germans as heard Obama speak turned out at quickly arranged protests, including one by self-proclaimed tech nerds near the historic Checkpoint Charlie, where U.S. soldiers welcomed visitors from the communist sector of Berlin for four decades with a sign, “You are entering the American sector.” One demonstrator added this coda: “Your privacy ends here.”
The center-left newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung took Obama to task over the surveillance issue. “Governments do not have the right to conceal broad lines of policy,” the newspaper wrote. “President Obama is operating according to an odd maxim: ‘I am doing a lot of the same things that George W. Bush did, but you can trust me because I am the one doing it.’ Not even Obama is deserving of that much trust."
“Everyone knows that gathering so much information is bullshit,” said Reinhard Weisshuhn, a political activist and foreign policy adviser. “It’s a total breach of trust by the government. This is how a society destroys itself.”
For 15 years, the Stasi tracked Weisshuhn’s every move and conversation. His Stasi file, which he, like many other Stasi targets, reviewed after the Berlin Wall collapsed, ran to 9,000 pages. He was shocked, and he’s quick to stress that the United States shouldn’t be compared to the totalitarian East German state.
“But that doesn’t mean the president gets a free pass,” he said. “The United States is an open society. This is a problem that must be honestly addressed and fixed.”
Weisshuhn shares a common German perception on the scandal: Snowden, who’s been charged under the Espionage Act for leaking news of the domestic spying, isn’t the bad guy.
"In our case, we thought we were being paranoid until we saw what they’d gathered and realized we’d been naive," Weisshuhn said. "Here, it’s not the whistle-blower who is wrong, it’s the gathering of information."
Germans, especially those raised in the east, are unconvinced by arguments that the sweeping collection of information is used only to track terrorists. The assertions by U.S. officials that unspecified attacks have been thwarted don’t persuade them, either. They haven’t forgotten the fear of living under a government that used vague threats to justify blanket spying. In East Germany, the threats came under the banner of disloyalty to socialist ideals. In the United States, the monitoring programs come under the banner of anti-terrorism.
Dagmar Hovestaedt is the spokeswoman for the German Stasi Records Agency, which showed 88,000 people last year what the Stasi had gathered on them. She said the U.S. should consider doing the same.
“This is a study on how to deal with the information the NSA is now gathering,” she said of her archive. “To say that the NSA is the equivalent of the Stasi is too simplistic, but the people who are spied on do have a right to know what was learned about their lives, what they had hoped to keep private that was not. Transparency is essential.”
Still, she noted that Stasi victims have a large advantage in finding out what was studied.
“It’s easy to make information available when it was gathered by a state that no longer exists,” she said.
Stefan Wolle is the curator for Berlin’s East German Museum, which focuses in part on the actions of and reactions to the Stasi. What becomes clear when studying the information the organization gathered is the banality of evil: Simple pieces of everyday life are given much greater importance than they deserve when a secret organization makes the effort to gather the information.
“When the wall fell, I wanted to see what the Stasi had on me, on the world I knew,” he said. “A large part of what I found was nothing more than office gossip, the sort of thing people used to say around the water cooler about affairs and gripes, the sort of things that people today put in emails or texts to each other.
“The lesson,” he added, “is that when a wide net is cast, almost all of what is caught is worthless. This was the case with the Stasi. This will certainly be the case with the NSA.”
An East German soldier of the border guard patrols along the barbed wire fence between the French and Soviet sector in the Schoenholz district in Berlin, Germany, September 25, 1961. A family, in the background, is forced to leave their home close to the sector's border and loads their belongings onto a truck. (AP Photo/Ede Reichart) #
44 years before, in 1945 the Fall of Berlin
In this undated August 1961 file photo West Berliners at right watch East German construction workers erect a wall across Wildenbruchstrasse and Heidelbergerstrasse in West Berlin in August 1961. (AP Photo/File) #
In this Oct. 7, 1961 file photo a West Berlin policeman stands in front of the concrete wall dividing East and West Berlin at Bernauer Strasse as East Berlin workmen add blocks to the wall to increase the height of the barrier. (AP Photo/Files) #
A refugee from the German Domcratic Republic (DDR) is seen during his attempt to escape from the East German part of Berlin to West Berlin by climbing over the Berlin Wall on October 16, 1961. (AP Photo) #
A West German police officer, front center, looks at a woman following the activities through the barbed wire fence between the French and Soviet sector in the Schoenholz district in Berlin, Germany, September 25, 1961. A family, left background, is forced to leave their home close to the sector's border and loads their belongings up a van. In the background are three East German soldiers of the border guard. (AP Photo/Ede Reichart) #
An East Berlin policeman puts bricks in place as the Berlin Wall is heightened to 15 feet, 5 m, separating East and West Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 9, 1961. People watch from their apartment building windows in background above. (AP Photo) #
East German police, foreground, mop up after work narrowing the passageway between East and West Berlin at the city's Heinrich Heine Strasse border crossing point on Dec. 4, 1961. Communist workers labor at several points along the wall to restrict further traffic between sectors of the divided city. (AP Photo) #
West Berliners, with their backs to camera, watch East Berliners unload prefabricated concrete plates to reinforce the Berlin Wall at Wilhelm St. in Berlin, Germany on Sept. 12, 1961. The sector border is being reinforced with roadblocks on every street leading into West Berlin in order to prevent further escapes by trucks. (AP Photo/Eddie Worth, File) #
U.S. Army tanks, foreground, face off against Soviet tanks across the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie on the Friedrichstrasse, in a tense standoff on Oct. 27 and 28, 1961. (AP Photo) #
An August 17, 1962 photo shows dying Peter Fechter carried away by East German border guards who shot him down when he tried to flee to the west. Fechter was lying 50 minutes in no-man's land before he was taken to a hospital where he died shortly after arrival. (AP Photo / files) #
A high wall of concrete blocks, topped with barbed wire, divides Sebastian Strasse in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 15, 1962. To the left is the American sector and beyond the wall to the right is the Russian sector. (AP Photo) #
The Brandenburg Gate is sealed off in the Soviet-occupied sector of East Berlin, Germany, in Nov. 1961. Located at the center of the German capital, the gate stands behind part of the Berlin Wall that divides East and West Berlin. (AP Photo) #
This is a view of the red brick wall on the border between East and West Berlin in Germany in Jan. 1962. The Communists added a wooden fence to impede a clear view into the Communist East Berlin zone. At left, West Berlin police armed with automatic weapons patrol along the wall. (AP Photo) #
Thousands of people line up at the Schillerstrasse in Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany, to apply for a passage slip to get across the border after Berlin was seperated with a wall as Eastern and Western sections, December 19, 1963. (AP Photo) #
Despite the presence of steel barriers and a concrete wall instead of tanks at Checkpoint Charlie, all appears serene in this scene from Berlin, mid-Oct. 1964. (AP Photo) #
East German border guards carry away a refugee who was wounded by East German machine gun fire as he dashed through communist border installations toward the Berlin wall. (AP Wire-Photo)
Jimmy Carter: NSA Intelligence Gathering Ruining Democracy
"America no longer has a functioning democracy," former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday, condemning the United States' intelligence programs and the collection of data from Americans and persons overseas.
Carter, speaking at an Atlanta event sponsored by The Atlantic Bridge, a private, non-profit group working to further German-U.S. relationships, said the Obama administration has been trying to placate Europe's anger over spying programs, the German publication Der Spiegel reports.
The end of the NSA legitimacy is their own fault for illegally spying on Americans and their allies and getting caught.
NSA has thus irreparably damaged their reputation with the public and with the computer geek geniuses that they used to recruit from. The young and upcoming computer geek geniuses are far smarter than anyone employed at the NSA now or their private contractors and they know it. These computer Geek geniuses have lost all trust in the NSA now that they have been caught and publicly exposed for lying to Congress and the American People(1).
This has triggered a new look by the alternative Internet press and informed members of the public at all the other NSA Whistleblowers including Mark Novitsky who blew the whistle on Teletech Holdings years ago for allegedly selling customer information to other vendors without authorization. Novitsky approached numerous Congresspersons and Senators, and major news media including 60 minutes and despite great initial interest, all refused to cover the story with several pulling it right before publication or broadcast.
Now those same Congresspersons and Senators deny they ever knew about the illegal NSA surveillance and spying on Americans when they were fully briefed years in advance to this recent disclosure. They are all playing dumb to protect their careers since they do not want to lose the “beltway lifestyle” and all the huge perks and future revolving door opportunities if they are obedient little slaves to the Secret Shadow Government (SSG). And Novitsky’s reward for refusing to go along with alleged corruption and corporate illegality and exhibiting great American heroism? Complete occupational blacklisting and massive and continuing harassment and surveillance including heavy and sometimes daily pulsed beam microwave and scalar psychotronic harassment.
Or highly credible and respected whistle-blower Russell Tice who revealed NSA crimes against “we the people” several years ago but got no traction. Now his American heroism is starting to be recognized and this is long overdue. And there are numerous other whistle-blowers that are true American heroes that are being abused harassed and treated very badly when they should be elevated, rewarded and protected by the USG and Congress. But when you have a completely crooked Department of US Just-us which is little more than a blackmailed CIA cutout run by un-arrested, un-indicted, un-prosecuted career criminals, it is hard to expect anything but more abuse of these heroic whistle-blowers who put it all on the line for America and the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
Campaign promises of compete transparency will all Legislation posted on the Internet for everyone to read and comment on in advance of any attempted passage.
Campaigner Obama/Soetoro had promised transparency in government, but has actually allowed less than any other president including both of the Bushes who used and abused secrecy to engage in massive narcotic trafficking into America for black ops money and started numerous completely illegal, unprovoked, undeclared, unconstitutional foreign wars based on pre-emptive strikes, something that was identified at Nuremberg as completely illegal and were responsible for thousands of dead and wounded American soldiers and over a million innocent civilians classified merely as “collateral damage”.
Pandora’s Box has been opened and cannot be closed.
The head of NSA knowingly lied to Congress and attempted to deceive the American people and got caught and now the “cat is out of the bag” and “Pandoras box” has been opened and cannot be closed. So with all the trillions of dollars of spying and surveillance and phone and Internet tapping, how could the NSA have made such a colossal screw-up to knowingly deceive the American people, violate the US Constitution and think they would get away with it without being caught. Pretty stupid for an organization that supposedly specializes in intelligence, huh? Unless the organization is a fraud in the first place and designed to support those who hijacked America in 1913 and desire to asset strip it bare or unless they have been completed infil-Traited and hijacked by zio NeoCon dual citizen corporations which are cutouts for the City of London Central Banksters and the Rothschilds.
NSA’s Comprehensive National Cyberspace Initiative (CNCI) and “Einstein 3” packet-inspection technology. We know that NSA developed its Comprehensive National Cyberspace Initiative (CNCI) which features “Einstein 3” a secret packet-inspection methodology, another clearly use of illegal warrantless spying of honest, law-abiding American Citizens. In a compete lapse of judgment believing it would never be caught and publicly exposed, the NSA assigned this technology to be also used by DHS to supposedly police and protect private cyber communications. Providing this surveillance technology to an obvious Bolshevik style zionist secret police organization to illegally spy on innocent Americans is about as unwise a decision as possible. Of course the American public would find out about this because DHS is like a leaky sieve and is run by dual citizen, double dipping infil-Traitors whose serve the City of London Banksters and their private intel Cutout rather than America.
This exposure of NSA’s lies and use of DHS to further their illegal spying, has resulted in a massive loss of respect and has served as a colossal failure and one that will guarantee the functional demise of the NSA and the eventual complete end of secrecy in America (1).
Good work NSA, your addiction to secrecy and criminal blackmail of politicians has backfired and you really screwed up this time. Only what you have done is a terminal mistake when added to what is being done by the Chinese to counteract your war games penetrations of their system.
And while you are at it, why not prosecute those who have stolen NSA wiretaps to blackmail Supreme Court Justices, judges and politicians and sever your connections to the crooked Central Banksters? And fire any dual citizens or anyone who refuses to “put America First”.
The Cat is out of the bag, completely, so you folks who run the NSA need to go get your minds straightened out and start acting like American-firsters and obeying your Oath and obligations to support and defend the US Constitution. Yes, the cat is out of the bag. For the first time many American now realize that the NSA has been feeding the SSG many secrets of the Supreme Court Justices, various federal Judges and numerous politicians and corporate leaders which can then be used to blackmail them into compliance with the wishes of the small cabal that runs the SSG on behalf of the City of London Banksters who in turn are Cutouts for the Old Black Nobility (OBN) of Europe. Yes the secret top leaders of the SSG, aka the “Evil Cabal” is also on record against any alien disclosure even though they it is required to be attained within a certain timeline or else the aliens will make public landing, or so the narrative goes. This evil cabal has been responsible to the take-down, hijacking of America and its massive asset stripping.
What can and should the USG, NSA and SSG do to repair the damage they have wrought?
The first thing is to come completely clean about everything that the NSA has been keeping secret, other than specific technology building methodology regarding software and new computer hardware circuits. Set up a Truth and Justice Commission and start offering appropriate partial or complete immunity to those who will come completely clean and deserve it.
Reveal how the factions in the USG and American intel have been trafficking in illegal narcotics and other drugs such as marijuana in joint ventures with foreign cartels to raise black budget money.
Congress at the direction of the SSG and NSA needs to get rid of the private central bankers, seize all their holdings and as assets, here and in foreign offshore accounts, claw back every single bit of interest stolen from the American people and any profits from lucrative drug money laundering and defense and war related scams.
Cancel all debts and interest due the “fed”. Nationalize all banking into a central American bank that prints its own green backs in highly controlled amounts. Get rid of all these free trade agreements like Nafta, Cafta, Gatt, Wto and the new secret pacific Trade Treaty and institute “fair trade” with properly set tariffs which will bring back heavy industry to America and manufacturing once again.
Sanction all large international corporations that have their home bases off shore and require them to have their home office here in order to do major business. Take away the right of the corporation to exist in perpetuity and serve as a liability shield for its owners and board members. Make corporations receive yearly licenses to operate like the Founding Fathers did.
Make a commitment to move all manufacturing of important defense contract items here, including all CPUs and weapon systems and replacement parts. Make a complete commitment to once again obey the US Constitution and Bill of Rights with in its original intent. Set up secure borders, require English as the universal American language to written and spoken by all Americans.
Get rid of all the alphabets all agencies set up to serve as the enforcement arms of the private unConstitutional Federal Reserve Bank. Start dumping all the thousands of useless federal laws designed to rob American freedom, liberty and ingenuity. Face the fact that the emergence of the worldwide Internet is the kiss of death for secrecy and the aliens are going to reveal themselves in the public soon, it’s only a matter of time.
The worldwide Internet has resulted in the growing emergence and power of a new worldwide conscience-collective which is going to eventually shred all government secrecy and create an endless demand for complete disclosure of every single big secret.