Thematic focus: The state’s fight against right?

Accident NSU: Wrong interpretations and the usual solutions
by Heiner Busch
For almost 13 years, the trio Uwe Mundlos, Uwe Böhnhard and Beate Zschäpe were able to live underground, undisturbed by police and secret services and to commit nine murders of immigrants and one police officer, two bomb attacks with dozens injured and fourteen bank robberies. There are currently four parliamentary investigation committees dealing with the „National Socialist Underground” (NSU) and the failure of the „security services” – one in the Federal Lower House of Parliament and three in regional parliaments. The Federal Government and the established parties, however, have already come to a conclusion: lack of coordination, lack of information exchange and unclear remits are supposed to be the reasons for the failure of the security services. The conclusions and demands are, accordingly, more cooperation between police and security forces and strengthening the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz).

The NSU parliamentary investigation committee
by Gerd Wiegel
In January 2012, the Lower House of Parliament commenced its investigation into the NSU. As a result of the hearing of until now 40 witnesses as well as an intensive study of the files, the committee was able to conclude that police and security services ignored all evidence indicating right-wing perpetrators and strictly adhered to the initial theory that the series of murder had to originate from within organised crime circles. The committee was further able to shed light on the incompetence and negligence characterising security service conduct when dealing with the extreme far-right. Whilst the public scandal surrounding the security services might be satisfying, it is more than questionable whether it will lead to any changes.

The Thuringian NSU investigation committee
Interview with Martina Renner
The history of the „National Socialist Underground” does not begin with the going underground of the trio Mundlos, Böhnhardt and Zschäpe in 1998. The violent potential of the Neo Nazi scene was played down. The security service’s use of informants was „right-wing and lawless”, says Martina Renner. She is a Member of Parliament for the left-wing party LINKE and deputy chair of the NSU investigation committee of the regional parliament of Thuringia.

With Bits and Bytes against the Right?
by Sönke Hilbrans
Already in December 2011, the Federal Interior Minister opened a Joint Centre against Far-Right Extremism (Gemeinsames Zentrum gegen Rechtsextremismus, GAR), in which police and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) are cooperating. In September 2012, this was followed by the common database on right-wing extremism (Rechtsextremismusdatei, RED). Just like the earlier Joint Counter Terrorism Centre (Gemeinsames Terror-Abwehrzentrum) and Counter Terrorism Database (Anti-Terrordatei), these initiatives further erode the constitutional separation of police and security services. Meanwhile the success of these instruments is questionable: if authorities refuse to identify or recognise a right-wing motivation, it is impossible they capture the same in a database or investigate it by means of data analysis.

Ministerial consequences of the NSU scandal
by Heiner Busch
In November 2011 already, the Federal Interior Ministry presented its 10 point plan in which it draws arguable conclusions from the NSU scandal. Besides the Common Centre and Database on Right-wing Extremism, the plan generally prescribes a further strengthening of remits of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz) vis a vis powers of regional security services.

The NSU and informants of the Federal Security Service
by Andreas Förster
Beate Zschäpe, Uwe Mundlos and Uwe Böhnhardt were on the run for almost 14 years. They lived inconspicuously underground with the help of their right-wing network. According to the evidence so far, they were surrounded by at least 17 informants of the German security forces. Some of them had high-ranking functions in Neo Nazi groups, others knew the members of the trio personally or were even close friends. It is almost unbelievable that security services and police still managed to fail to uncover the NSU. Failure or intent?

Demands towards the police and judiciary after the NSU scandal
by Heike Kleffner
Racist violence, including police violence, has not ended after the discovery of the NSU in November 2011. More money, new data systems and more powers for security services are the wrong answers to the state’s failure to tackle the NSU. Instead, measures are needed to strengthen the trust of minority groups in police and the criminal justice system. The police should act against the institutional racism rooted in its forces. And they should finally acknowledge the full dimension of racist violence.

The internal security service and the anti-fascist movement
by Ulli Jentsch
Since 1990 there has not been an opportunity that has given the public such varied insights into the working and thinking methods of security services than the past 12 months: the undemocratic positions of its members, the systematic failure in its analyses of the Neo Nazi scene and the continuous false assessment of the potential deadly threats resulting therefrom. And suddenly the question arose whether the security service should be abolished; a political demand that only a year ago amounted to political suicide. The Antifascist Press Archive and Educational Centre Berlin (Antifaschistisches Pressearchiv und Bildungszentrum Berlin, apabiz) is convinced of the need for an early warning system against Neo Nazis – but not one that is located with the security services but rooted within society at large.

Against the ban of the far-right party NPD
by Heiner Busch
The bi-annual Conference of Interior Ministers decided at its December meeting to make another attempt at banning the far-right party NPD (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands). The first attempt from 2003 failed at the Federal Constitutional Court because the executive committees of the party were riddled with security service informants. Allegedly this is no longer the case. The announcement of the procedure to ban the party gives the wrong impression of an official concerted effort to fight right-wing extremism, whilst it tastes more of the old „free democratic legal order” of the German state security ideology. Neither the Neo Nazi scene nor the racism that reaches far into society and in particular into the state’s migration policy are thereby being tackled. It is an act of symbolic politics which aims at legitimising the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (Verfassungsschutz), which has suffered reputational damage after the NSU scandal.

Non-thematic contributions:

Deadly police shots 2011
by Otto Diederichs
Police have shot at people 36 times in total last year. This has led to six deaths and 15 injuries. The figures are presented in the annual statistics of the Interior Ministers’ Conference. In addition, there were 30 cases of „gun use against objects”. This generally refers to shots fired at cars and thereby indirectly at the people inside them.

Since when are borders intelligent?
by Matthias Monroy
The EU continues to expand its migration control repertoire: plans include the so-called „Smart Borders Initiative” which foresees linking two new data systems: an entry and exit system which intends to detect so-called overstayers as well as a Registered Travellers Programme which aims at facilitating swift entry into the EU for security-checked frequent travellers. Both systems complement the Visa Information System and the second generation Schengen Information System. Then there is the on-going creation of the border control system Eurosur, in which the border agency Frontex plays a central role. Ben Hayes and Matthias Vermeulen have recently published a comprehensive study on the same, entitled „Borderline”.

Towards a Europol Regulation
by Eric Töpfer
13 years after the European police office Europol commenced its work, the future of the agency is yet again under discussion. Even if an extension of its remits in the framework of a future Europol Regulation is unlikely, the agency has meanwhile gained increased powers. It remains to be seen whether its control will also be increased.

Dresden February 2011: Unlawful mass of data
by Elke Steven
A procedure on grounds of Article 129 of the Criminal Code (criminal organisation) against an anti-fascist sports group in February 2011 was intended to supply the city of Dresden and the police with almost limitless powers to act against demonstrators protesting against the annual Neo Nazi march on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombardment of Dresden in 1945. It became known only in the summer of 2011 that the police, before and during the protests, carried out so-called non-individualised telecommunications interception (Funkzellenabfragen, FZA), registering around one million communications data of mobile phones. The surveillance, as well as nation-wide house searches, are still being dealt with by the courts.

Frankfurt in a state of emergency
by Peer Stolle
Earlier this year, a broad alliance under the name of  „Blockupy Frankfurt” had called for international solidarity, for the democratisation of all areas of life and against the austerity dictates of the troika and government in the framework of European Action Days from 16 to 19 May. The city reacted with a complete ban of protests. The courts largely accepted the absurd reasoning behind the authorities’ politics of prohibition.