The Rise Of The American Gestapo – Kidnapping, Beating, Sexual Assault, And Torture
Beneath the veil of nationalistic propaganda the Department of Homeland Security has become a modern-day reincarnation of the Nazi Gestapo.
The Gestapo was nothing more the NAZI Germany’s secret police and secret police are only used by authoritarian regimes.
Many have been brainwashed by the mass media to accept the use of secret police but throughout governments choosing to employ such agencies have only done so to be able to maintain control over the citizenry while conducting the most heinous crimes.
“Secret police (sometimes political police) are an intelligence agencies and or police agency, law enforcement office which operates in secrecy and also quite often beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime.
Instead of transparently enforcing the rule of law and being subject to public scrutiny as ordinary police agencies do, secret police organizations are specifically intended to operate beyond and above the law in order to suppress political dissent through clandestine acts of terror and intimidation (such as kidnapping, coercive interrogation, torture, internal exile, forced disappearance, and assassination) targeted against political enemies of the ruling authority.
Secret police forces are accountable only to the executive branch of the government, sometimes only to a dictator. They operate entirely or partially in secrecy, that is, most or all of their operations are obscure and hidden from the general public and government except for the topmost executive officials. This semi-official capacity allows the secret police to bolster the government’s control over their citizens while also allowing the government to deny prior knowledge of any violations of civil liberties.”
What follows is the story of yet another man kidnapped by the CIA and smuggled to a CIA torture prison without due process or oversight. The media confuses the public calling the program Extraordinary Rendition. With Extraordinary done internationally without the oversight of a judge (An international crime against humanity) and Rendition meaning Kidnapping.
Following the first-hand account of what occurred is the history of the case and then a look at the NAZI secret police AKA the Gestapo, and the tactics of such secret police – such as the forced disappearance El-Masri faced.
Then decide for yourself if the US government is employing the same tactics as past and modern governments that have been labeled totalitarian authoritarian regimes.
Statement: Khaled El-Masri
Khaled El-Masri is a German citizen who resides near Neu Ulm, Germany. El-Masri was born in Kuwait in 1963 to Lebanese parents. He moved to Germany in 1985 to escape the Lebanese War. He became a German citizen in 1995, married in 1996 and has six young children. He is a carpenter by trade and prior to his abduction was employed as a car salesman. El-Masri was detained from December 31, 2003 through May 28, 2004 in Macedonia and Afghanistan where he was held in the CIA prison known as the “Salt Pit.” Currently El-Masri is unable to find employment.
WASHINGTON – I have come to America seeking three things: an acknowledgement that the United States government is responsible for kidnapping, abusing and rendering me to a CIA “black site” prison; an explanation as to why I was singled out for this treatment; and an apology, because I am an innocent man who has never been charged with any crime.
Almost one year ago the American Civil Liberties Union, on my behalf, filed a lawsuit against George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, other CIA officials and U.S.-based aviation corporations that owned and operated the airplanes used in my abduction. For reasons I do not fully understand, the court decided not to hear my case because the government claimed that allowing the case to proceed would reveal state secrets, even though the facts of my mistreatment have been widely reported in American and international media.
This is not democracy. In my opinion, this is how you establish a dictatorial regime. Countries are occupied, people are killed, and we cannot say anything because it’s all considered a state secret. Freedom and justice are disrespected, as are basic morals and values. And if you don’t keep quiet after you are abused, you are considered a threat to international or national security. But I will not be scared into being silent. I will continue to fight for this case until I prevail or until I die. And I will fight for morality, for principles, for the values I believe in, and for my family.
Here is my story. On December 31, 2003, I boarded a bus in Ulm, Germany for a holiday in Skopje, Macedonia. When the bus crossed the border into Macedonia, Macedonian officials confiscated my passport and detained me for several hours. Eventually, I was transferred to a hotel where I was held for 23 days. I was guarded at all times, the curtains were always drawn, I was never permitted to leave the room, I was threatened with guns, and I was not allowed to contact anyone. At the hotel, I was repeatedly questioned about my activities in Ulm, my associates, my mosque, meetings with people that had never occurred, or associations with people I had never met. I answered all of their questions truthfully, emphatically denying their accusations. After 13 days I went on a hunger strike to protest my confinement.
On January 23, 2004, seven or eight men entered the hotel room and forced me to record a video saying I had been treated well and would soon be flown back to Germany. I was handcuffed, blindfolded, and placed in a car. The car eventually stopped and I heard airplanes. I was taken from the car, and led to a building where I was severely beaten by people’s fists and what felt like a thick stick. Someone sliced the clothes off my body, and when I would not remove my underwear, I was beaten again until someone forcibly removed them from me. I was thrown on the floor, my hands were pulled behind me, and someone’s boot was placed on my back. Then I felt something firm being forced inside my anus.
I was dragged across the floor and my blindfold was removed. I saw seven or eight men dressed in black and wearing black ski masks. One of the men placed me in a diaper and a track suit. I was put in a belt with chains that attached to my wrists and ankles, earmuffs were placed over my ears, eye pads over my eyes, and then I was blindfolded and hooded. After being marched to a plane, I was thrown to the floor face down and my legs and arms were spread-eagled and secured to the sides of the plane. I felt two injections, and I was rendered nearly unconscious. At some point, I felt the plane land and take off again. When it landed again, I was unchained and taken off the plane. It felt very warm outside, and so I knew I had not been returned to Germany. I learned later that I was in Afghanistan.
Once off the plane, I was shoved into the back of a vehicle. After a short drive, I was dragged out of the car, pushed roughly into a building, thrown to the floor, and kicked and beaten on the head, the soles of my feet, and the small of my back. I was left in a small, dirty, cold concrete cell. There was no bed and one dirty, military-style blanket and some old, torn clothes bundled into a thin pillow. I was extremely thirsty, but there was only a bottle of putrid water in cell. I was refused fresh water.
That first night I was interrogated by six or eight men dressed in the same black clothing and ski masks, as well as a masked American doctor and a translator. They stripped me of my clothes, photographed me, and took blood and urine samples. I was returned to my cell, where I would remain in solitary confinement, with no reading or writing materials, and without once being permitted outside to breathe fresh air, for more than four months. Ultimately, I was interrogated three or four times, always by the same man, with others who were dressed in black clothing and ski masks, and always at night. The man who interrogated me threatened me, insulted me, and shoved me. He interrogated me about whether I had taken a trip to Jalalabad using a false passport; whether I had attended Palestinian training camps; and whether I knew September 11 conspirators or other alleged extremists. As in Macedonia, I truthfully denied their accusations. Two men who participated in my interrogations identified themselves as Americans. My requests to meet with a representative of the German government, a lawyer, or to be brought before a court, were repeatedly ignored.
In March, I, along with several other inmates, commenced a hunger strike to protest our confinement without charges. After 27 days without food, I was allowed to meet with two unmasked Americans, one of whom was the prison director and the second an even higher official whom other inmates referred to as “the Boss.” I pleaded with them to either release me or bring me to court, but the American prison director replied that he could not release me without permission from Washington. He also said that I should not be detained in the prison. On day 37 of my hunger strike I was dragged into an interrogation room, tied to a chair, and a feeding tube was forced through my nose to my stomach. After the force-feeding, I became extremely ill and suffered the worst pain of my life.
Near the beginning of May, I was brought into the interrogation room to meet an American who identified himself as a psychologist. He told me he had traveled from Washington D.C. to check on me, and promised I would soon be released. Soon thereafter, I was interrogated again by a native German speaker named “Sam,” the American prison director, and an American translator. I was warned that as a condition of my release, I was never to mention what had happened to me, because the Americans were determined to keep the affair a secret.
On May 28, I was led out of my cell, blindfolded and handcuffed. I was put on a plane and chained to the seat. I was accompanied by Sam and also heard the voices of two or three Americans. Sam informed me that the plane would land in a European country other than Germany, because the Americans did not want to leave clear traces of their involvement in my ordeal, but that I would eventually continue on to Germany. I believed I would be executed rather than returned home.
When the plane landed, I was placed in a car, still blindfolded, and driven up and down mountains for hours. Eventually, I was removed from the car and my blindfold removed. My captors gave me my passport and belongings, sliced off my handcuffs, and told me to walk down a dark, deserted road and not to look back. I believed I would be shot in the back and left to die, but when I turned the bend, there were armed men who asked me why I was in Albania and took my passport. The Albanians took me to the airport, and only when the plane took off did I believe I was actually returning to Germany. When I returned I had long hair and beard, and had lost 40 pounds. My wife and children had left our house in Ulm, believing I had left them and was not coming back. Now we are together again in Germany.
Khalid El-Masri is a German citizen who was kidnapped in the Republic of Macedonia, flown to Afghanistan, beaten, stripped, sexually violated while searched, and interrogated and tortured by the CIA for several months as a part of the War on Terror, and then released after a case of mistaken identity was realized. His imprisonment was apparently due to a misunderstanding that arose concerning the similarity of the spelling of El-Masri’s name with the spelling of suspected terrorist al-Masri (the names are spelled the same way when using Arabic script).
Arrest and detention
El-Masri travelled from his home in Ulm to go on vacation in Skopje at the end of 2003. He was detained by Macedonian border officials on December 31, 2003, because his name was identical (except for variations in Roman transliteration) to that of Khalid al-Masri, an alleged mentor to the al-Qaeda Hamburg cell who has not been apprehended, and because of suspicion that his German passport was a forgery. He was held in a motel in Macedonia for over three weeks and questioned about his activities, his associates, and the mosque he attended in Ulm.
The Macedonian authorities also contacted the local CIA station, who in turn contacted the agency’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia. A December 4, 2005, article in the Washington Post said that an argument arose within the CIA over whether they should remove him from Macedonia in [the CIA’s international kidnapping program that violates internal law water downed down by the media using the the term] extraordinary rendition. The decision to do so was made by the head of the al Qaeda division of the CIA’s Counter-terrorism Center on the basis of a hunch he was involved in terrorism. The local authorities released him on January 23, 2004 and American security officials, described in an MSNBC article as members of a “black snatch team”, came to Skopje, and detained him. El-Masri alleges that they beat him, stripped him naked, drugged him, and gave him an enema. He was then dressed in a diaper and a jumpsuit, and flown to Baghdad, then immediately to “the salt pit“, a covert CIA interrogation center in Afghanistan which contained prisoners from Pakistan, Tanzania, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
El-Masri wrote in the Los Angeles Times that, while held in Afghanistan, he was beaten and repeatedly interrogated. He has also claimed that he was sodomized. He was kept in a bare, squalid cell, given only meager rations to eat and putrid water to drink. In February, CIA officers in Kabul began to suspect his passport was genuine. The passport was sent to the CIA headquarters in Langley where in March the CIA’s Office of Technical Services concluded it was indeed genuine. Discussion over what to do with El-Masri included secretly transporting him back to Macedonia, without informing German authorities, dumping him, and denying any claims he made. In the aftermath of the detention, U.S. officials requested non-disclosure from the German government on the grounds that it feared, “exposure of a covert action program designed to capture terrorism suspects abroad and transfer them among countries, and possible legal challenges to the CIA from Mr Masri and others with similar allegations.”
In March 2004 El-Masri took part in a hunger strike, demanding that his captors afford him due process or watch him die. After 27 days without eating, he forced a meeting with the prison director and a CIA officer known as “The Boss”. They conceded he should not be imprisoned but refused to release him. El-Masri continued his hunger strike for 10 more days until he was force-fed and given medical attention. He had lost more than 60 pounds since his abduction in Skopje.
While imprisoned in Afghanistan, Masri befriended several other detainees, and they all memorized each other’s telephone numbers so that if one was released they could contact the others’ families. One of these detainees, an Algerian named Laid Saidi, was recently released and his description of his capture and detention closely matches that of El-Masri.
El-Masri reports that “high-value detainee” Majid Khan was held in the salt pit at the same time as he was. Khan spent a further three and a half years in CIA custody prior to being transferred to Guantanamo on September 5, 2006.
Release and CIA response
In April 2004, CIA Director George Tenet learned that El-Masri was being wrongfully detained. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice learned of his detention in early May and ordered his release.El-Masri was released on May 28 following a second order from Rice. They flew him out of Afghanistan and released him at night on a desolate road in Albania, without apology, or funds to return home.He claimed that at the time he believed his release was a ruse, and he would be executed. He was eventually intercepted by Albanian guards, who believed him to be a terrorist due to his haggard and unkempt appearance. He was subsequently reunited with his wife who had returned to her family in Lebanon, with their children, because she thought her husband had abandoned them. Using isotope analysis, scientists at the Bavarian archive for geology in Munich analyzed his hair and verified that he was malnourished during his disappearance.
“Frances”, the CIA analyst who mistakenly recommended El-Masri’s detention and rendition was reportedly not punished or fired. In fact, according to reports, she has since been promoted to chief of the agency’s Global Jihad unit in charge of hunting al-Qaida and is part of the President’s inner circle as his Director for Counterterrorism. “Elizabeth” (her first name), the CIA lawyer who approved the seizure of El-Masri, was reprimanded but continued to work for the agency as legal advisor to its Near East division.
Subsequent events related to his capture
- A November 9, 2005 Reuters story stated that a German prosecutor is investigating El-Masri’s kidnapping “by persons unknown”, and that another lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, would be flying to the U.S. to file a civil compensation suit. The Reuters story says American authorities have neither confirmed nor denied any element of El-Masri’s story.
- According to a December 4, 2005, article in the Washington Post, the CIA’s Inspector General is investigating a series of “erroneous renditions [kidnappings]“, including El-Masri’s. The article was written by Dana Priest, the journalist who broke the story on the covert interrogation centres — the “black sites“.
- On December 5, 2005, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the United States had acknowledged holding El-Masri in error.
- On December 6, 2005, the American Civil Liberties Union helped El-Masri file suit in the USA against former CIA director George Tenet and the owners of the private jets, leased to the US government, that the CIA used to transport him. El-Masri had to participate via a video link because the American authorities again confused him with al-Qaeda terrorist Khalid al-Masri and denied him entry when his plane landed in the United States. Some press reports attributed the Americans barring him entry due to his name remaining on the watch list. But his lawyer, Manfred Gnjidic, was also barred entry.
- On December 17, 2005, Front magazine published an article that said a member of a German Intelligence Agency had clandestinely passed a copy of El-Masri’s dossier to the CIA in April 2004.
- El-Masri published a first-person account of his experience in the Los Angeles Times.
- On May 12, 2006, a U.S. federal court heard a government motion to dismiss the suit brought by El-Masri, claiming the trial could jeopardize national security.
- On May 18, 2006, U.S. Federal District Judge T.S. Ellis, III dismissed a lawsuit El-Masri filed against the CIA and three private companies allegedly involved with his transport, explaining that a public trial would “present a grave risk of injury to national security.” (This legal doctrine is known as the state secrets privilege.) Ellis also acknowledged that if Masri’s allegations were true then he deserved compensation from the US government.
- The BND (German intelligence agency) declared on June 1, 2006 that it had known of El-Masri’s seizure 16 months before Germany was officially informed of his mistaken arrest. Germany had previously claimed that it did not know of El-Masri’s abduction until his return to the country in May 2004.
- On July 26, 2006, The ACLU announced that “it will appeal the recent dismissal of a lawsuit brought by Khaled El-Masri against the US government.”According to ACLU attorney Ben Wizner, “If this decision stands, the government will have a blank check to shield even its most shameful conduct from accountability.”
- On October 4, 2006 the Washington Post reported that Munich prosecutors were complaining that a lack of cooperation from US authorities was impeding their investigation into El-Masri’s abduction. The article reports that Munich prosecutors have a list of the names, or known aliases, of 20 CIA operatives who they believe played a role in the abduction.
- On January 31, 2007 Munich Prosecutor Christian Schmidt-Sommerfeld announced that warrants for 13 people were issued for suspected involvement in Mr El-Masri’s rendition.
- On February 6, 2007, U.S. officials warn the German Government not to issue international warrants.
- On February 21, 2007, the German Government decided to pass the warrants to Interpol.
- On March 2, 2007, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed the dismissal.
- On April 30, 2007, The Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled as unconstitutional the tapping of the phones of El-Masri’s lawyer by Munich’s DA office. The DA had requested the tapping claiming they expected the kidnappers to contact the lawyer “to find a solution to the case”.
- The real names of two of the pilots on the El-Masri rendition flight were revealed in June 2007, in the (German language) proceedings of netzwerk recherche (NR), a German association of investigative reporters, as Eric Robert Hume (alias Eric Matthew Fain), and James Kovalesky. For several months previously, both U.S. and German newspapers had been dropping heavy hints as to the pilots’ true identities. In July 2007, SourceWatch identified the third pilot on the El-Masri flight as Harry Kirk Elarbee, on the basis of an automated search of the FAA airmen database and corroborating information previously published in the press.
- In June 2007 the ACLU filed a petition for certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court.
- On July 12, 2007 the European Parliament issued the 2006 Progress Report on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in which the authorities of Macedonia were urged to cooperate in the investigation of the circumstances of the abduction.
- In September 2007, the German Government decided not to ask the US officially for extradition as an unofficial request had met a negative reply.
- On September 5, 2007, the Constitution Project filed an amicus curiae, a legal brief in support of his petition for certiorari.
- On October 9, 2007, the ACLU petition was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court without comment.
- On June 10, 2008, a new civil suit was launched by German and US civil rights lawyers representing Mr El- Masri seeking to force the German government to reconsider the extradition requests it issued in January 2007.
- In May 2009, Prosecutors attached to the Spanish National Court asked for an arrest order for thirteen CIA agents involved in the kidnapping.
- In May 2012, the European Court of Human Rights held a hearing on the case between El-Masri and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (application number 39630/09)) 
In international human rights law, a forced disappearance (or enforced disappearance) occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organization or by a third party with the authorization, support, or acquiescence of a state or political organization, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, with the intent of placing the victim outside the protection of the law.
According to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which came into force on 1 July 2002, when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at any civilian population, a “forced disappearance” qualifies as a crime against humanity and, thus, is not subject to a statute of limitations. On 20 December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Often forced disappearance implies murder. The victim in such a case is abducted, illegally detained and often tortured during interrogation; killed, and the body hidden. Typically, a murder will be surreptitious, with the corpse disposed of to escape discovery, so that the person apparently vanishes. The party committing the murder has deniability, as no body provides evidence of the victim’s death.
The ACLU has stated they consider extraordinary rendition to be an illegal form of forced disappearance and called for the detainees to receive trials and the camps to be closed; the US government argues that since the combatants are captured while participating in active military conflict against the United States and officially designated as unlawful combatants under the Geneva Convention, the detentions are legal under international law.
In international human rights law, disappearances at the hands of the state have been codified as “enforced” or “forced disappearances” since the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. For example, the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court defines enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity, and the practice is specifically addressed by the OAS’s Inter-American Convention on Forced Disappearance of Persons. There is also authority indicating that enforced disappearances occurring during armed conflict, such as the Third Reich’s Night and Fog program, constitute war crimes.
The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 December 2006, also states that the widespread or systematic practice of enforced disappearances constitutes a crime against humanity. It gives victims’ families the right to seek reparations, and to demand the truth about the disappearance of their loved ones. The Convention provides for the right not to be subjected to enforced disappearance, as well as the right for the relatives of the disappeared person to know the truth. The Convention contains several provisions concerning prevention, investigation and sanctioning of this crime, as well as the rights of victims and their relatives, and the wrongful removal of children born during their captivity. The Convention further sets forth the obligation of international co-operation, both in the suppression of the practice, and in dealing with humanitarian aspects related to the crime. The Convention establishes a Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which will be charged with important and innovative functions of monitoring and protection at international level. Currently, an international campaign of the International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances is working towards universal ratification of the Convention.
Disappearances work on two levels: not only do they silence opponents and critics who have disappeared, but they also create uncertainty and fear in the wider community, silencing others who would oppose and criticize.Disappearances entail the violation of many fundamentalhuman rights. For the disappeared person, these include the right to liberty, the right to personal security and humane treatment (including freedom from torture), the right to a fair trial, to legal counsel and to equal protection under the law, and the right of presumption of innocence among others. Their families, who often spend the rest of their lives searching for information on the disappeared, are also victims.
In English Gestapo simply means secret police.
The Gestapo (German pronunciation:[ɡeˈstaːpo, ɡəˈʃtaːpo] ( listen); abbreviation of Geheime Staatspolizei, “Secret State Police”) was the official secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.
“The basic Gestapo law passed by the government in 1936 gave the Gestapo carte blanche to operate without judicial oversight. The Gestapo was specifically exempted from responsibility to administrative courts, where citizens normally could sue the state to conform to laws.”
The power of the Gestapo most open to misuse was called Schutzhaft—”protective custody”, a euphemism for the power to imprison people without judicial proceedings. An oddity of the system was that the prisoner had to sign his own Schutzhaftbefehl, an order declaring that the person had requested imprisonment—presumably out of fear of personal harm (which, in a way, was true). In addition, thousands of political prisoners throughout Germany—and from 1941, throughout the occupied territories under the Night and Fog Decree—simply disappeared while in Gestapo custody.
How did the Gestapo rise to power? You can read the entry above but in a nutshell.
In Germany the branches of the police responsible for political and intelligences operations were detached from the tradition police service into two separate units. They were then merged a single unit known as the Gestapo. The Gestapo and all other agencies were then merge into a single bureaucracy, in the exact same manner that George Bush merged all agencies into the Department of Homeland Security.
The Gestapo was exempted from oversight answering only to the executive branch, with work being done in secret without judicial or legislative oversight. Further entrenching the Gestapo’s power courts ruled the agency immunity from lawsuits.
This is very similar to how the NSA, the CIA and at times the FBI and other federal agencies work – refusing to answer to congress and invoking national security to avoid being held accountable by the courts. Additionally, even when national security is not invoked courts have repeatedly ruled said agencies and the officers are immune from lawsuits.
The Gestapo was nothing more than the Nazi secret police. Secret police exist in authoritarian regimes and operate in secret so they can work outside the law and commit crimes as they see fit.
Secret police (sometimes political police) are an intelligence agencies and or police agency, law enforcement office which operates in secrecy and also quite often beyond the law to protect the political power of an individual dictator or an authoritarian political regime.
Instead of transparently enforcing the rule of law and being subject to public scrutiny as ordinary police agencies do, secret police organizations are specifically intended to operate beyond and above the law in order to suppress political dissent through clandestine acts of terror and intimidation (such as kidnapping,coercive interrogation, torture, internal exile, forced disappearance, andassassination) targeted against political enemies of the ruling authority.
Secret police forces are accountable only to the executive branch of the government, sometimes only to a dictator. They operate entirely or partially in secrecy, that is, most or all of their operations are obscure and hidden from the general public and government except for the topmost executive officials. This semi-official capacity allows the secret police to bolster the government’s control over their citizens while also allowing the government to deny prior knowledge of any violations of civil liberties.
Secret police agencies have often been used as an instrument of political repression.
States where the secret police wield significant power are sometimes referred to as police states or counterintelligence states. In theory, secret police differ from the domestic security agencies in modern liberal democracies, because domestic security agencies are generally subject to government regulation, reporting requirements, and other accountability measures.
Despite such overview, there still exists the possibility of domestic-security agencies acting unlawfully and taking on some characteristics of secret police. In some cases, certain police agencies are accused of being secret police and deny being such. For example, political groups and civil liberties organizations in the United States have at various times accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation of being secret police. Which government agencies may be classed or characterized, in whole or part, as “secret police” is disputed by political scientists.
A single secret service has the weapons to arrogate to itself complete political power. It may therefore pose a potential threat to the central political authority.
In dictatorships, a close relative of the dictator often heads the secret police. For example, Saddam Hussein, as head of the State Internal Security Department placed his secret police under the authority of his first cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid.
In addition, secret police has a strong tendency to view potential political enemies as concrete threats, even if they do not exist. In some cases, a dictator may manufacture such enemies for the purpose of directing national output toward a common goal, thereby supplying an image of national unity
Methods and history
Secret police not only have the traditional police authority to arrest and detain, but in some cases they are given unsupervised control of the length of detention, assigned to implement punishments independent of the public judiciary, and allowed to administer those punishments without external review. The tactics of investigation and intimidation used by secret police enable them to accrue so much power that they usually operate with little or no practical restraint.
Secret-police organizations employ internal spies and civilian informants to find protest leaders or dissidents, and they may also employ agents provocateurs to incite political opponents to perform illegal acts against the government, whereupon such opponents may be arrested. Secret police may open mail, tap telephone lines, use various techniques to trick, blackmail, or coerce relatives or friends of a suspect into providing information.
Secret police are notorious for raiding homes between midnight and dawn, to apprehend people suspected of dissent.
People apprehended by the secret police are often arbitrarily arrested and detained without due process. While in detention, arrestees may be tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment. Suspects may not receive a public trial, and instead may be convicted in a kangaroo court-style show trial, or by a secret tribunal. Secret police known to have used these approaches in history include the secret police of East Germany (the Ministry for State Security or Stasi) and Portuguese PIDE.
Secret police have been used by many types of governments. Secret police forces in dictatorships and totalitarian states usually use violence and acts of terror to suppress political opposition and dissent, and may use death squads to carry out assassinations and “disappearances“. In times of emergency or war, ademocracy may lawfully grant its policing and security services additional or sweeping powers, which may be seen or construed as a secret police.