Top officials who gain knowledge of how German intelligence services work are not allowed to use it in a new job. But the inspectors in the Bundestag find the applicable regulations too lax.
The Bundestag committee responsible for monitoring the secret services does not find the rules for former top officials from security-related areas to be strict enough. “From the point of view of the committee, it is problematic that civil servants with in-depth security-related or intelligence knowledge take up unchecked private-sector activities that are related to their previous official assignment,” says a briefing by the Parliamentary Control Committee.
Activities by former members of the armed forces or the police for private or state-owned companies in foreign countries are also worrying.
“There is a risk that official skills and knowledge will be made available to authoritarian regimes or criminal organizations,” warn the deputies, who belong to the secret committee. “This is also unacceptable against the background of the changed security situation in Europe as a result of the Russian war of aggression, in short a turning point,” the parliamentary control body pointed out.
Control body: Prohibit certain activities
For retired civil servants with “in-depth security-related knowledge”, the committee proposes that the employer be given the opportunity to prohibit certain activities, even if he learns about them in a way other than through a report from the civil servant, but the activity is clearly in the interests of the service impaired. “In contrast to the federal government, the committee considers the current legal situation to be insufficient,” the information continues.
German security interests must be better protected, warned the FDP domestic politician Konstantin Kuhle. After the end of their service period, employees in the public sector would have the opportunity to pursue another occupation and would also be protected by the freedom of occupation enshrined in the Basic Law, said the deputy parliamentary group leader.
He emphasized: “The confidentiality obligation from the activity in the civil service still applies, so that no confidential information may be passed on.” The control body is of the opinion that employment which, according to the Civil Service Act, impairs official interests typically also violates the confidentiality obligation stipulated therein.
“Those who serve this state must not fight it”
Christoph de Vries (CDU), who, like Kuhle, is a member of the secret service control committee, said that the “turning point” proclaimed by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) after the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine also means “that we pay more attention to security interests must give to the Federal Republic of Germany”. This includes ensuring that security-relevant information that employees of security authorities have obtained during their active service “does not fall into the wrong hands and can be used by autocratic system rivals against Germany and other democratic states”. Stricter regulations are needed for this.
“Anyone who serves this state must not fight it. For years, the state has had a hard time when its employees behave in an anti-constitutional manner or have their sensitive knowledge dubiously gilded,” said Marcel Emmerich, chairman of the Greens in the Interior Committee, of the German press Agency.
A bill by the federal government “to speed up disciplinary proceedings in the federal administration” is due for the first reading, which is intended, among other things, to enable extremists to be removed from the service more quickly. Retired officials also have a great responsibility, said Emmerich. Therefore, the obligation to notify them of taking up new employment must be extended. “In addition, they must have an active duty of loyalty to the constitution.”
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.