Stasi Colonel Says Obama Surveillance Is 'Dream Come True'
Wolfgang Schmidt, a former lieutenant colonel in the East German secret police, was recently interviewed about the magnitude of domestic surveillance in the United States during the Obama administration.
“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.
The Stasi (the Ministry for State Security, or Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) set the standard for ruthlessly intrusive police state surveillance throughout the Cold War.
SF fans have long been familiar with different forms of surveillance from novels like George Orwell's 1948 novel 1984, which described the use of the telescreen:
Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time.
Philip K. Dick wrote at length about surveillance (and surveillance devices) in the 1950's. However, in his 1970 novel Our Friends From Frolix 8, he went further than even the NSA (I think):
Thought to be beyond the scope of probability, work on the first purely electronic telepathic listening device advances at a reassuring rate, officials of McMally Corporation, the designer and builder of Great Ear, as it has come to be called, said today in a press conference attended by many skeptical observers. "When Great Ear goes into operation," Munro Capp opined, "it will be capable of telepathically monitoring the thought-waves of tens of thousands of persons…
(Read more about Philip K. Dick's Great Ear)
From McClatchy DC.
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