You just can’t make this up (boldface mine):
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…
“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….
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.”
And I also made this point recently:
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.”
Even if Obama or other officials aren’t misusing this power, someone will. It’s just too juicy an opportunity.
Reminds me of a post I read a few years back which quoted loan sharks admiring the chutzpah of the payday loan industry and wondering at how they’d gotten politicians to make legal more usurious terms for loans than loan sharks had been able to get.
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