Tell us what’s true or democracy will die: German spy chief’s ultimatum to US tech giants
With the anniversary of Berlin’s Christmas market terror attack approaching, Hans-Georg Maassen, head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, appears to be consumed by terrifying images of subversive Facebook posts crashing into young German minds.
The German spymaster, who is paid by German taxpayers to keep them safe, seems less worried about psychos running over holiday shoppers in the streets than he is about mythical Russian meddling unicorns. And remember, friends: This gentleman runs an “intelligence” agency.
Speaking at a recent cybersecurity conference, the German spy chief lashed out at Facebook and other tech giants for neglecting their “social responsibilities” by failing to “take over editorial verification of their content.”
“Democratic pluralism loses its foundations if it is no longer based on facts and reality is reduced to opinions,” Maassen warned. He added, citing testimonies by Facebook lawyers at a Congress hearing, that "126 million people on Facebook have seen political messages placed by a firm that is thought to have close ties with the Russian government”.
Sounds scary. But what reality is Maassen referring to? The alternate reality in which Russia controls the world via Twitter? What *are* the facts?
The alleged “Russia-linked” Facebook posts giving Maassen night terrors make up a whopping 0.004 percent of the social media platform’s content posted in the two years before the US presidential election.
As for the $100,000 worth of “Russia linked” ads cited by Facebook as evidence of dangerous election-meddling, the social media platform has quietly clarified that half of the ads in question were purchased after the election. “So it goes.”
Herr Maassen boasts that the heroic efforts of his own spy agency safeguarded the integrity of Germany’s general election in September.
That’s a nice story, Hans, except Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said back in March that the German government does not claim Moscow is trying to interfere in any way, shape or form with Germany’s electoral process.
"The German media bear their own responsibility…The federal government does not make such accusations," Gabriel said. "I’m speaking only for it [the federal government]," he stressed.
Does Gabriel speak for Maassen? Obviously not, since Maassen answers to a higher authority – the shrill voice in his weisswurst-filled head screaming Russia, Russia, RUSSIA!
Schizophrenia aside, a year-long investigation by German intelligence agencies uncovered approximately zero cases of Russia meddling in German politics. Didn’t Maassen get the memo?
It’s frankly amazing that the human mind is capable of processing the current level of Russian-bogeyman absurdity being flung out of every orifice of every deep state lackey. And yet: here we are.
Will Germans allow themselves to be whipped into an anti-Russia frenzy over a smattering of statistically-irrelevant Facebook posts? Is there any evidence, anywhere, that Russia has interfered in Germany’s internal affairs? Did Putin tap Merkel’s phones? (No, but a friendly American alphabet agency did.)
Maassen apparently loves to lecture Silicon Valley nerds about their “social responsibilities”, but what about his own? Doesn’t Germany’s top spy have a fiduciary responsibility not to make up and broadcast Candy Land claptrap about Russia? Probably.
In the meantime, we’re sure Maassen will continue to dutifully regurgitate whatever dumb lies Langley feeds him next. Haven’t we all had enough?
As Reichschancellor Bismarck once famously observed, a lie gets halfway to the schnitzel-house before the truth has a chance to put on its lederhosen.
Luckily for everyone except Maassen and his crew of flunkies, the truth is catching up. And aren’t the lederhosen dapper?
Riley Waggaman, for RT
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.