Photo: Stringer / AFP
Last fall, we learned that German authorities had failed to uncover a plot by a neo-Nazi group to murder nine immigrants despite having monitored the group since the late ’90s.As we now learn from Der Spiegel, they were apparently distracted by the activities of fairly run-of-the-mill leftists.
The paper reveals that Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has been spying on 27 members of “The Left” party now in parliament — a third of the party’s representation:
“According to a Jan. 4, 2012 document from the Interior Ministry, the BfV employs seven workers for the “handling of the Left Party” with personnel costs of some €390,000 ($504,000) per year. By way of comparison, more than 10 domestic intelligence agents are conducting surveillance on members of the neo-Nazi National Democratic Party (NPD), at a cost of some €590,000 each year.
The views of The Left party are not terribly controversial: more state ownership, a minimum wage for workers, more money for education.
The BfV has responded that it is not spying, merely monitoring; no clandestine techniques have been used to gather information.
Some Left Party members are also said to have had ties to the East-German Stasi.
But it’s not just ultras they’re observing. The party’s leader, deputy chairwoman and other committee members have all been targeted.
As the L.A. Times’ Aaron Wiener writes, the situation is, at a minimum, a mis-allocation of resources. He quotes one German political scientist thusly:
“They’ve been looking in the wrong direction, and maybe for political reasons. It raises a very big question mark about the work they do. If they are really concentrating on preventing a danger to democracy in Germany, they are failing on a grand scale.”
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