German intelligence

Squaring the Circle

ARCHIV - Zahlreiche Lampen, Überwachungskameras und Zäune sichern am 02.05.2015 in Berlin den Neubau des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND) (Langzeitbelichtung). Foto: Paul Zinken/dpa (zu dpa «Prozess vor dem Münchner Oberlandesgericht gegen Ex-BND-Mitarbeiter wegen Landesverrats.» vom 13.11.2015)+ +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
The spies who love us.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    It is time for Germans to overcome their aversion to intelligence services, especially given that most employees of today’s services were born after World War II.

  • Facts


    • Intelligence services must by nature operate in a gray zone between constitutional legality and the need to avert potential threats.
    • Agencies must be subject to parliamentary control.
    • Domestic intelligence services are highly criticized within Germany.
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Domestic surveillance is a double-edged sword in democratic societies like Germany. Citizens want their government to take action against opponents at home to protect the liberal way of life, but intelligence service operate in legal gray zones that oftentimes betray the very foundations of liberal society.

In spite of the impossibility of squaring this circle with democratic freedoms and security, Germans still wants to have their cake and eat it too.

Not everything the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) does is legal. Their opponents often define the laws, and it is not always possible to examine the German constitution before taking necessary action to avert potential threats. It’s a near-impossible act to balance, but while intelligence services must be subject to parliamentary control, a line must be drawn where the effectiveness of our intelligence services is jeopardized.

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