Compared to the NSA, the MfS [Ministry of State Security] in the extinct German Democratic Republic looks like an orphan. Thanks to The Guardian, published in Britain, we now know that the largest American security service is snooping on citizens in the U.S. — and in the rest of the world — in every electronic deed: on the telephone, on the computer, on Skype, on Facebook and in chats; that the billion-fold data investigation is occurring permanently and without judicial decisions; and that it was politically endorsed and radically expanded technologically in recent months.

The snooping reaches deep into the private and everyday lives of people. No one can escape it; a life without electronic communication is not possible in the U.S. At the same time, the snooping is uncontrollable; with the high-tech means at their disposal, the snoopers are invisible to the snooped-upon.

If George W. Bush were now still president, an outcry would presumably go through the Left and Democratic public of the U.S. But the fact that a Democrat sits in the White House has already put the brakes on other criticism — of retaining Guantánamo, for example, and of numerous military operations with and without drones in the rest of the world. It will have a stultifying effect this time, too.

Instead of reacting with loud protests, many Americans react with incredulous astonishment over how far the control mania stretches in their country. Behind it is a mindset that has prevailed since Sept. 11, 2001. Since the terrorist attacks, control has become a basis for thinking and policies in the U.S.

On the ruins of the World Trade Center, governments in Washington have allowed a more and more powerful new apparatus to develop and be further and further expanded. A parallel structure that bears the name “Homeland Security” has its own department and remains spared from the usual budget cuts.

The reference to “terroristic threat” is an argument that beats all others. Twelve years after the attacks, “homeland security” in the U.S. is a politics of fear.