German Minister Calls Security A 'Super Fundamental Right' That Outranks Privacy; German Press Call Him 'Idiot In Charge'

from the going-down dept

One of the striking features of the Snowden story is that there has been no serious attempt to deny the main claims about massive, global spying. Instead, the fall-back position has become: well, yeah, maybe we did some of that, but look how many lives were saved as a result. For example, the day after the first leaks appeared, it was suggested that PRISM was responsible for stopping a plot to bomb the NYC subways. However, further investigation showed that probably wasn't the case.

Now it seems that Germany is using the same tactic in an attempt to ward off growing domestic criticism -- and encountering the same problem with that attempt to re-frame the narrative, as the Stars and Stripes site reports:

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich is backing off his earlier assertion that the Obama administration's NSA monitoring of Internet accounts had prevented five terror attacks in Germany, raising questions about other claims concerning the value of the massive monitoring programs revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The same article quotes a particularly ridiculous comment made by the same Minister:
Defending NSA practices, Friedrich noted that security is a "super fundamental right." As such it outranks fundamental rights such as privacy. German newspapers were scathing in their assessment, calling Friedrich the "idiot in charge."
As that indicates, at least some in the European press are getting tired of mindless defenses of the spying program -- as well as associated claims about how many lives it has saved.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:21am

    Of Course

    Of course lives are only more important that other human rights in the West. In other parts of the world eg Iraq, they work to quite a different equation. How many lives have been lost in Iraq and Afghanistan in the cause of "freedom".

    The reality is that these people engage in doublethink on these issues - and the real imperative is the political need to be seen to be doing somnething (and by the way to provide business for all the companies that make money out of politcians "doing something").

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:27am

    One of the striking features of the Snowden story is that nobody gives a fuck. Nobody. Nada. Zilch. Do yourself a favor and close this site now. Its old, outdated, and go find a real job now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:44am

    Yes, it's not like 'security' is a part of the Bill of Rights or anything like that.

    It's not the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution ... oh wait !!!

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:58am

    Re:

    I dunno about Germany, but, generally, European countries take privacy very seriously. Saying that security is more important than privacy is enough to make your average European cringe, especially when said average European remembers names like Salazar, Franco, Mussolini or Hitler.

    Europeans know the price of overzealous "security". We spent decades fighting against it.

     

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  5.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:00am

    Re: Of Course

    No, not really, notice how freeing people from dictatorships only seems to matter when those dictatorships aren't friendly or useful.

    For example the US government are dancing around like mancies to avoid calling what has happened in Egypt a coup because a lot of the bribes... sorry I mean aid... can't legally be sent if it is.

    The life lost was never about 'freedom' that was just a nice coat of paint.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Zem, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:22am

    Security is the mechanism our own governments use to take away our rights.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:28am

    Re:

    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis

    I'd much rather have freedom than faux-security.

     

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  8.  
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    RyanNerd (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:29am

    Idiots in charge

    Fill in the Blank:
    America:________________
    England:________________
    Germany:________________
    China:________ __________
    Korea:__________________

    I was going to go on but realized that pretty much every world leader is an Idiot in Charge. [Sigh]

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:36am

    Of course, if you read the nonexistent fine print, you'll find that our brand new Super Security does NOT cover security from espionage or surveillance.

     

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  10.  
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    Richard (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re: Of Course

    Notice that I put "freedom" in quotes. Their version of "freedom" is very selective.

    The point I was making is that they are happy to sacrifice lives in the name of "freedom" when it suits their agenda - and equally happy to sacrifice freedom to "save lives" when that is more convenient.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:47am

    It's obvious the German Minister is Hitler Jr. Thank god I don't live in Germany they'd probably lock me up for the next 32,000 years.

    Goddamn Nazis.

    PS Don't think I'm being racist because my government is full of em as well.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:48am

    almost none of the countries involved in this disgraceful example of government infringement of citizens rights have or are going to stop the practice anyway. they may well say they are going to, there may well be new legislation that prevents it from happening either to the degree when it became public knowledge or indeed at all. but if anyone actually thinks that it is going to stop the spying, you are in cloud cuckoo land. governments have gotten away with doing exactly as they please for far too long and they aint gonna stop it now!! the majority of citizens just shrug and turn to some other page or task. they think even now that they are not included in any of this and will continue to have that view until such time as they get hauled into some official building, accused of some outrageous crime and threatened with a gazillion dollar fines and lifetimes in jail. this is just what the governments want, so if anyone does fight back, no one else takes any notice, until it involves them personally and it is too late to stop it! half a brain knows we're in the shit! the world is becoming a police world, with freedoms and privacies and all other things the people expect to have being taken away. now look at which party is in government in the majority of the countries following this line and you'll find another similarity!!

     

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  13.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:48am

    Stars and Stripes said this? Really? Isn't that a US military publication? I predict someone will get taken to the woodshed for failing to support government policy...

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 4:50am

    Mr. Friedrich was told to say these things in his audience with his superiors in the US. Then he dutifully said them. He didn't mix up the words or forget any of his talking points. His delivery was at least okay-ish. And still, everybody is mad at him now and calls him names. How is that fair? He can only be as good as the lines given to him.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    The Real Michael, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:06am

    Re:

    Don't forget that we granted Nazi scientists asylum here in the US in exchange for their 'expertise.'

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Bengie, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:11am

    History Time

    I think this guy needs a history lesson about Nazi Germany. The last thing a citizen should do is blindly trust their government.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:21am

    Re:

    "obvious the German Minister is Hitler Jr"

    How so - exactly.
    Possibly a review of history is in order here.

    Your gov is full of what then ?

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:22am

    IIC - Idiot In Charge

    lol

     

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  19.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:26am

    Re: Re: Re: Of Course

    Yes but my point is that it's clearly been obvious that "in the name of freedom" has largely meant "in the name of our security". They are may be sacrificing to different name but the goal, as ever, remains the same.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    PopeRatzo (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:27am

    Re:

    Stars and Stripes has done a good deal of original reporting, including stories critical of the government and of the military. According to Wikipedia, "Unique among the many military publications, Stars and Stripes operates as a First Amendment newspaper".

    So, I guess until the corporate/intelligence apparatus decides that the First Amendment is no longer good for profits, Stars and Stripes gets to operate independently. Since we've already seen a couple of the amendments in the Bill of Rights suspended, that might happen sooner rather than later.

     

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  21.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:41am

    "Idiot in charge" would be a generic term for "politician" nowadays.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Jackadoodle, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 5:52am

    I wish people would do something, but frankly - this is Germany. I've seen more people protest the new mosque in town than standing up against PRISM.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Peter Gerdes, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 6:36am

    He's Right

    It's not a useful practical heuristic but in a way totally true. Freedom is of no use whatsoever to a worldwide cemetery. The issue is just how much risk of death should be traded for how much violation of other rights and this is a very bad way to frame that question.

    For instance, in the modern world there are almost certainly private individuals owning land w/ uranium ore and possessing (via hiring) the rarified but no longer truly heroic expertize to detonate the device. However, there are good reasons we don't have respected political documents and snappy phrases reminding us to invade privacy and check up on neighbors. We tend to overdo that anyway and need the opposite warning.

    S

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 7:14am

    Re: Re:

    Give me liberty or give me death.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 7:49am

    'calling Friedrich the "idiot in charge.'

    a better term would be 'MIFWIC' with the 'I' being silent (correct me if wrong)

    Mother Fucker What's In Charge!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:03am

    Re:

    Perhaps we should ask the Muslims to do us a favor by changing the names of their prayer halls to "Prisms."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:16am

    Re:

    In our German "Verfassung", called "Grundgesetz" Sicherheit (security) is mentioned 5 times and Freiheit (freedom) 20+ times.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    techflaws (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    Recently a saying has been repeated on many blogs covering this and similar topics:

    If a politician talks about something, he has either no idea what he is talking about or he is lying. If both applies, he's a member of the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re: Of Course

    Of course lives are only more important that other human rights in the West.
    Only recently and only since people have become complacent about their real freedoms...

    I seem to remember only a couple of centuries ago, some minor western colony of the British Empire yawking on about how the tiddly little rights like speech and privacy were more important than living - some bloke named Henry even had a nifty catchphrase for it...

    Oh and around the middle of this century I seem to remember a bunch of western countries getting rather miffed for several years because it was decided that being able to choose not to do funny salutes at a painter with a daft moustache was rather more important than quite a lot of lives...

     

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  30.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re:

    1000% true... that quote ought to be first-worded...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    The best thing to call him would be the Late Herr Friedrich.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

    Saying that security is more important than privacy is enough to make your average European cringe


    It makes lots of Americans cringe, too.

    In the US, "rights" are about what the government is prohibited from doing. Security is not a "right" -- it's the job of the government, and as such does not trump any rights at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 9:12am

    Re: History Time

    Indeed. Blindly trusting your government is actively unpatriotic, even.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Most Europeans

    Tend to be more sensitive to the whole "privacy vs. security" issue than Americans for various reasons (especially Eastern Europe). Granted, Americans by default are sensitive to it, but they're also constantly told that "we're doing this to protect you!", which for anyone who has a sliver of faith in the government, is somewhat reassuring.

    That and 9/11 blew up what was a national landmark (WTO), and as far as I know, nothing on that level of terrorism has happened over in Europe yet (it'd be the equivalent of someone blowing up Buckingham Palace), which is why Europeans (especially Germans) are more aware of the privacy vs. security problem than Americans today.

    Well, that and fucking reality TV.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Of Course

    "Yes but my point is that it's clearly been obvious that "in the name of freedom" has largely meant "in the name of our security""

    actually, i'm sure you know it goes a step beyond that: we're fighting over there, so the 1% can make obscene profits over here...

    really and truly, this has little/nothing to do with 'security' per se, but EVERYTHING to do with protecting the 'right' of 'our' (actually, NOBODY'S) transnational korporations to generate profits unchallenged by gummints or peoples...

    yeah, there are a few twue bewievers who do this crap out of a misplaced, misguided 'patriotism', but most are simply fools and tools being led by the nose to peddle this crapola, and not a small percentage who are simply con men and sociopaths taking advantage of the 'security' gravy train...

    they are protecting the 'security' of the korporadoes, NOT US 99%...

    art guerrilla
    aka ann archy
    eof

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 3:56pm

    Minister Friedrich needs to produce all of his emails, phone bills, contents of his computer, any data in online accounts.
    The people have a super-fundamental right to make sure you are behaving as they require to feel secure that your the right one to lead.

    Still willing to stand by those words?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2013 @ 7:58pm

    "idiot in charge."

    too funny :D

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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