German minister's proposal causes uproar

Time of article published Jul 9, 2007

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Berlin - German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble caused a stir on Monday after proposing a security policy that would allow the indefinite detention and "targeted killing" of terror suspects.

Peter Struck, parliamentary group leader of the Social Democrats, half of Chancellor Angela Merkel's left-right ruling coalition, expressed shock at Schaeuble's remarks, which included a call to ban the use of the Internet and mobile phones by suspect foreigners living in Germany.

"That has no place in a coalition," Struck told the daily Frankfurter Rundschau. "(Schaeuble's) new proposals on banning cellular phones could only be implemented in a police state."

Struck said Germany must draw lessons from its Nazi past and also dismissed a call made by Merkel last week to allow the military to be deployed on German soil in the event of an imminent terrorist threat.

"This argumentation is wrong, among other things because it does not take into account the horrible experiences in German history," he said.

Schaeuble made the comments in Monday's issue of the news weekly Der Spiegel when asked how Germany should deal with the threat of Islamist terrorism after the foiled bombings in Britain this month.

"Let's say someone knew in which cave Osama bin Laden is sitting. Someone could then fire a guided missile to kill him," he said, referring to the Al-Qaeda chief.

"But let's be honest - the legal issues involved are still completely unresolved, above all if Germans were to be involved. We must try to resolve such constitutional issues as precisely as possible and create a legal foundation to have the necessary liberties in the struggle against terrorism."

He added that Germany should consider classifying terror suspects as "enemy combatants" - mirroring the policy used by the United States since the suicide hijackings of September 11, 2001 to justify detention without criminal charge.

"If for example potential terrorists - so-called sleepers - cannot be deported, what will we do then? One could consider introducing a law against conspiracies, as they have in America," he said.

"The other question is whether one could treat such sleepers as combattants and intern them."

The leader of the Social Democrats, Kurt Beck, said Schaeuble risked undermining German democracy in the name of security.

"I think he is overreacting," Beck told ZDF public television. "We cannot protect freedom to death." - Sapa-AFP

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