Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Wayback machine: no wonder total surveillance has a bad rep

Erudite Partner is researching the 1945-46 Nuremberg trials of captured Nazis in preparation for her new book. She passes along this tidbit from the testimony, not exactly on point for her subject, but of contemporary interest. Apparently whatever technical means might currently be available, government snooping is a constant.

MR. JUSTICE JACKSON: You took over a special intelligence organization in 1933 which was devoted to monitoring the telephone conversations of public officials and others inside and outside of Germany, did you not?

GOERING: I have explained that I had erected a technical apparatus which, as you said, monitored the conversations of important foreigners to and from foreign countries -- telegrams and wireless communications which were transmitted not only from Germany to foreign countries, but also from one foreign country to the other through the ether, and which were intercepted. It also monitored telephone conversations within Germany of: (1) all important foreigners; (2) important firms, at times; and (3) persons who for any reason of a political or police nature were to be watched. 

In order to prevent any abuse on the part of the police, this department had to obtain my personal permission when it was to listen to telephone conversations. Despite this there could, of course, be uncontrolled tapping of wires at the same time, just as that is technically possible everywhere today.

Trial Transcript

The people who create these systems most always think they are the best judges of whether the systems are being used properly and lawfully.

Robert H. Jackson was a Justice of the Supreme Court who took on the additional job of chief United States prosecutor at Nuremberg.

Herman Goering was one of Hitler's earliest confederates, later the head of the German Air Force during World War II, the leading appropriator of European art seized from Jews and conquered peoples, and the most senior Nazi surviving the war. Jackson called him "half militarist, half gangster." At Nuremberg he was sentenced to death, but cheated the hang man by taking poison.

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