German outrage over a U.S. Internet spying program has broken out ahead of a visit by Barack Obama, with ministers demanding the president provide a full explanation when he lands in Berlin next week and one official likening the tactics to those of the East German Stasi.
When Germans start bringing up one of the darkest chapters in their history to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, you may want to listen.
The Stasi was among the most ruthlessly efficient secret police organizations in existence during the Cold War. Today’s Germans may not just be talking about the NSA spying here. Among the Stasi’s tactics was a method of dealing with opposition figures and groups called “decomposing.” The Stasi dealt opposition not just by disappearing them, though they did that. They would target opposition leaders for campaigns of psychological warfare and systematic intimidation.
The MfS established the decomposition as psychological repression and tracing instrument.  It used the findings of the “operational psychology” at the Law College of national security (century) targeted to undermine to the self-confidence and self-esteem of the victims. These are confused or scared, exposed to constant disappointments and socially uprooted by disruption of relations with other people. In this way, life crises should be caused which should unsettle political opponents and mental strain, so the time and energy for anti-State activities was taken the victims.
That’s auto-translated from German but you can get the gist.
Catherine Engelbrecht of election security advocacy group True the Vote may have been a victim of Obama administration “decomposing” techniques. After she founded TTV and sought tax-exempt status for it, the IRS not only dragged out the process for more than three years, she and her family business were subjected to a blizzard of visits, investigations and audits. They had never been in trouble with any federal agency before. Suddenly several of them had her and her family business on their radar. The policy she had become publicly identified with was one that the Obama government had stood strongly and publicly on the other side of — securing elections from fraud. The Obama government has sued states that have passed sensible voter ID requirement laws.
The purpose of all that activity against Engelbrecht’s family may have been to try dividing her and her husband over something that someone in the Obama administration did not like — her political activity.
As a tried and tested forms of decomposition, the directive lists 1/76, inter alia:
“systematic discrediting the public reputation, reputation and prestige based on interconnected real, verifiable and defamatory, untrue, credible, not widerlegbarer and thus also flow information; systematic organization of professional and social failures to undermine the confidence of individuals; […] Production of doubts as to the personal perspective; Generating mistrust and mutual suspicion within groups […]; local and temporal prohibit or restrict the mutual relations of the members of a group […] for example, by […] Allocation of locally removed the jobs”
-Directive No. of 1/76 operational development and editing operations from January 1976 
It didn’t work, as her husband has stood by her and supported her throughout their travails. But that doesn’t mean the techniques weren’t tried, and wouldn’t work on someone else. Many Tea Party group leaders report giving up after the IRS harassed and abused them.
Back to the current crop of Germans and how they’re seeing the American regime.
In a guest editorial for Spiegel Online on Tuesday, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said reports that the United States could access and track virtually all forms of Internet communication were “deeply disconcerting” and potentially dangerous.
“The more a society monitors, controls and observes its citizens, the less free it is,” she said.
“The suspicion of excessive surveillance of communication is so alarming that it cannot be ignored. For that reason, openness and clarification by the U.S. administration itself is paramount at this point. All facts must be put on the table.”
Markus Ferber, a member of Merkel’s Bavarian sister party who sits in the European Parliament, went further, accusing Washington of using “American-style Stasi methods”.
“I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell,” he said, using the German initials for the failed German Democratic Republic.
So did we.