When Germany says the United States is acting like the Stasi, it's clear that our hysterical pursuit of security is eroding whatever bump in international credibility we got by replacing George W. Bush with Barack Obama.

German ministers are expressing their outrage over America’s sweeping intelligence-gathering leviathan, with one parliamentarian comparing US spying methods to that of the communist East Germany’s much-dreaded Ministry for State Security (Stasi).

Washington is using "American-style Stasi methods," said Markus Ferber, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Bavarian sister party and member of the European Parliament.

"I thought this era had ended when the DDR fell," he said, using the German acronym for the disposed German Democratic Republic ["Germany Slams U.S. for 'Stasi Methods' Ahead of Obama Visit," RT.com, updated 2013.06.14].

President Obama and Chancellor Merkel cite one specific case where U.S. information helped stop terrorists in Germany. But Berliners don't seem convinced that's worth America's subjecting Germany to more National Security Agency spying than any other European ally. 4,500 people sauntered over to the Brandenburg Gate Wednesday to hear President Obama speak, a notable decline from the 200,000 Berliners who found it worth their while to go listen to candidate Obama speak in their city in 2008.

Stasi-ism, Stalinism... South Dakota's two Senators do not recognize the harm we are doing to ourselves and our allies with our power-grabbing paranoia. Like a majority of their colleagues, Senators Tim Johnson and John Thune both skipped a Senate briefing on NSA surveillance last week so they could get home early on Thursday for a long weekend. Rep. Kristi Noem has been too busy posting Father's Day pablum and failing to pass the Farm Bill to say anything substantive about NSA spying abroad and at home. Republican Senate candidate Mike Rounds is preoccupied with posing with guns and raising obscene amounts of money (neither of which appear to stop NSA spying). Democratic Senate candidate Rick Weiland has yet to pick up NSA spying as something worth debating.

The most prominent South Dakota voice to speak the truth about the ills of our surveillance state is Sam Kephart, who ran for Tim Johnson's job in 2008:

Our rights trashed, Americans’ freedoms on rocks, the federal government insists all its snooping actions are legal under the Patriot Act, FISA, the NDAA and their extensions.

We’re given a choice of false alternatives: either submit to electronic tyranny ... or risk more terror attacks. Hint: The hidden agenda is control.

The dollar bill in our pocket or purse carries our nation’s symbolic “all-seeing eye” on its reverse side; how ironic it’s now been replaced by the NSA’s real “all-seeing eye” attached to our lifestyles and smart phones.

Political philosopher Montesquieu said: "There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice."

The scandals now in Washington make it clear power is being abused for political purposes. Who’s watching the watchers? Wake up, America! [Sam Kephart, "Freedom on the Rocks: Tyranny Versus Terrorism," Rapid City Journal, 2013.06.15]

I saw Sam at Safeway yesterday. He wasn't wearing any "Sam for Senate" buttons. But with none of his fellow South Dakota Republicans leading a charge against the grave threats to our Fourth Amendment rights, maybe he should.