It’s a symbolic gesture — the program in question hasn’t been used in about 20 years, and actual intelligence sharing will continue — but the symbolism is telling, as it’s aimed directly at President Citizen of the World.
Germany has cancelled a Cold War-era pact with the US and Britain in response to revelations about electronic surveillance operations.
Details of snooping programmes involving the transatlantic allies have been leaked to the media by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden.
The revelations have sparked widespread outrage in Germany, where elections are due next month.
The agreement dates from 1968-9, and its cancellation is largely symbolic.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement: “The cancellation of the administrative agreements, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy.”
Germans know all about how pervasive surveillance powers police states. East Germans lived under two surveillance states successively across most of the 2oth century, first under the Nazis and then the communists. West German lived under the Nazis, too, and then had the communists and their wall gash their country for decades. East Germans also know well what the Stasi called “decomposing” enemies of the state. Obama’s IRS appears to have used a similar tactic to “decomposition” when harassing the Tea Party, and especially True the Vote’s Catherine Engelbrecht.
Barack Obama gave his Berlin “citizen of the world” speech to show that he was different from George W. Bush, whom he had demagogued into a cartoon villain. If Obama is different from Bush, he’s mainly different in that he is less honest about what he’s up to, and he’s more likely to target innocent civilians rather than hostile terrorists.