The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – Template:Lang-de – is the Federal Republic of Germany's domestic intelligence agency. Together with the Landesämter für Verfassungsschutz (LfV) on state-level it is tasked with intelligence-gathering on threats concerning the democratic order, the existence and security of the federation or one of its states, and the peaceful coexistence of peoples; with counter-intelligence; and with protective security and counter-sabotage. The BfV reports to the Federal Ministry of the Interior. From 2000 to July 2012, Heinz Fromm (SPD) served as its President. From 1 August 2012 Hans-Georg Maaßen will be the next president.
Oversight[edit | edit source]
The BfV is controlled by the Federal Minister of the Interior as well as the Bundestag, the Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and other federal institutions. The Federal Minister of the Interior is in administrative and functional control of the BfV. Parliamentary control is exercised by the Bundestag in general debate, question times and urgent inquires, as well as by its committees, most notably the Parliamentary Control Commission and the G10 Commission. The BfV is also under judicial control and all its activities can be legally challenged in court. Based on the right of information, the general public can direct inquires and petitions at the BfV.
Organization[edit | edit source]
- Department Z - Administration
- Department IT - IT and operational intelligence technology
- Department 1 - Central services and support
- Department 2 - Extremism (left- and right-wing)
- Department 4 - Counter-espionage, protective security and counter-sabotage
- Department 5 - Security threats posed to by foreign extremists or from abroad
- Department 6 - Islamic extremism and terrorism
In 2008 federal funding for the BfV was € 155,238,306; with a total of 2,529 staff members employed.
Activities and operations[edit | edit source]
While the BfV uses all kinds of surveillance technology and infiltration, they mostly use open sources. The BfV publishes a yearly report (Verfassungsschutzbericht) which is intended to raise awareness about anti-constitutional activities.
Main concerns of the BfV are:
- Left-wing political extremists, platforms, movements and parties, notably certain factions within Die Linke, as well as other smaller parties and groups preaching communism
- Right-wing political extremists (mainly Neo-Nazis, including the NPD, DVU political parties and smaller groups preaching Nazism, fascism, racism and xenophobia).
- Extremist organisations of foreigners living in Germany (most prominently Islamist terrorists).
- Scientology (considered by the German government an authoritarian, anti-democratic commercial organization rather than a religion).
- Organised crime is also mentioned as a threat to democracy, law and order, and free enterprise in the country's business economic system.
Some of the BfV organisations have been given additional tasks by specific laws, such as the protection of government-related classified information, the monitoring of foreign secret services, or the monitoring of organised crime.
Coordination between the different services and the parallelism of the state-based services is an ongoing problem. A merger into a single federal service has been a topic of discussion, but the proposal faces strong political resistance due to the highly regarded principles of federalism.
History[edit | edit source]
In the course of drafting the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany the military governors of the Trizone outlined the competences of federal police and intelligence (Polizeibrief of 14 April 1949). In accordance with this outline the BfV was established on 7 November 1950. At first the BfV was mostly concerned with Neo-Nazism and communist revolutionary activities. Soon the BfV also became involved in counter-espionage.
From the beginning, the BfV was troubled by a number of affairs. First, in the Vulkan affair in April 1953, 44 suspects were arrested and charged with spying on behalf of East Germany (GDR), but were later released as the information provided by the BfV was insufficient to obtain court verdicts. Then, in 1954 the first president of the BfV, Otto John, fled to the GDR. Shortly after that it became public that a number of employees of the BfV had been with the Gestapo during the Third Reich. Nevertheless, material on the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) was essential for banning the party by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany in August 1956. Over the years, a number of associations and political groups were banned on material provided by the BfV.
Since 1972 the BfV is also concerned with activities of foreign nationals in Germany, especially extremists and so-called terrorists who operate in the country or plan their activities there, such as the Kurdistan Workers' Party. One of the major intelligence failures in this field were the riots by supporters of the PKK in 1998, which the BfV missed due to the Cologne carnival.
The counter-intelligence activities of the BfV were mostly directed against the Ministry for State Security (MfS) of the GDR. The MfS successfully penetrated the BfV and in a number of affairs destroyed its reputation as a counter-intelligence service by the early 1980s. In this, the MfS profited from the West German border regime which allowed any GDR citizen into the Federal Republic without restrictions.
Critique[edit | edit source]
The BfV has been publicly criticised for its clandestine behaviour and its tendency to bend the rules. With the end of the GDR the necessity of a domestic intelligence service had been questioned. The failure to detect the activities of the 9/11 conspirators further questioned the capability of the BfV to protect the constitution and ultimately the population. The rise of right-wing extremism, especially in the former GDR, was also partly blamed on the failure to establish working structures there.
Presidents[edit | edit source]
- 1950 - 1954 Otto John
- 1955 - 1972 Hubert Schrübbers
- 1972 - 1975 Günther Nollau
- 1975 - 1982 Richard Meier
- 1983 - 1985 Heribert Hellenbroich
- 1985 - 1987 Ludwig-Holger Pfahls
- 1987 - 1991 Gerhard Boeden
- 1991 - 1995 Eckart Werthebach
- 1995 - 1997 Hansjörg Geiger
- 1997 - 2000 Peter Frisch
- 2000 - 2012 Heinz Fromm
- 2012 Hans-Georg Maaßen (presigned President to 1 August 2012
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- "Tasks". Cologne: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/en/en_about_bfv/tasks.html. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- Press relation of Federal Ministry of the Interior "Dr. Maaßen wird zum 1. August Präsident des BfV". Bundesinnenministerium. 2012-07-18. http://www.bmi.bund.de/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/DE/2012/07/maaßen.html Press relation of Federal Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 2012-07-18 (german).
- "Control". Cologne: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/en/en_about_bfv/control.html. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- "Organisation". Cologne: Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/en/en_about_bfv/organisation.html. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- "2008 Annual report on the Protection of the Constitution" (PDF). Berlin: Federal Ministry of the Interior. 2008. p. 11. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/download/SHOW/vsbericht_2008_engl.pdf. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
- "2008 Annual report on the Protection of the Constitution" (PDF). Berlin: Federal Ministry of the Interior. 2008. p. 18. http://www.verfassungsschutz.de/download/SHOW/vsbericht_2008_engl.pdf. Retrieved 23 August 2010.
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- Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution
- Heinz Fromm - The Fighter Against Terrorists, Extremists and Russian Spies
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