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Konrad Werner: Paedos, racists, and smug bastards

German politics is a wretched swamp at the moment.

Image for Konrad Werner: Paedos, racists, and smug bastards
Jörg Ziercke. Photo by “Wo st 01/Wikipedia”

Hose me down. I’ve been reading about German politics. At the moment, it’s impossible to take sides in this rat’s nest without having to choose between a probable paedo and a probable racist, and once you’ve negotiated that conundrum, you’ll likely find yourself with a smug bastard either way.

This week saw the triumph of the smuggest bastard of them all – Jörg Ziercke, head of the German Federal Police (BKA) – who came swaggering out of a parliamentary committee hearing on Thursday with an even more swollen sack of self-assurance between his legs than he went in with.

He has now successfully swatted away all suggestions that he ever did anything wrong ever, especially when it came to not telling people about who might be a paedophile. He’s an expert at that. It’s become his speciality. For instance, he did not tell the leaders of the SPD that one of their MPs, Sebastian Edathy, was on a list of Germans who downloaded images of naked children from a Canadian company currently under investigation. And he also did not tell the parliamentary committee earlier that one of his senior police officers was also on that list for downloading actual child porn (as opposed to naked kids – there are two categories of child porn, apparently: “Category 2” = naked kids. “Category 1” = bad stuff). By not telling people these things, Ziercke announced in triumph that he was not only within his rights – he was doing his duty. Revealing this information would actually have been a violation of his responsibilities. “Boom,” he told the assembled parliamentarians, then leaned back in his seat and bit the end off a fat Cuban. “Now what’s for fucking lunch?”

He even managed to wriggle out of the lie the committee caught him in – he at first told them that his officers only started sifting through the Canada list in the summer of 2012, only then to admit that one of his staff had discovered the name of the senior police officer in January 2012. Then he invented a new, official-sounding word, something the German language is always convenient for when you’re covering your tracks. It was a “Grobsichtungsvorgang” – a “rough-viewing process” – that was the thing his staff did in January, before presumably the “actual-viewing process” began in the summer.

The reason why Ziercke is as bold as a brass squirrel in front of parliamentary committees is that he’s spent quite some time with them, particularly the one investigating the German police’s festering failure to hunt down Nazi terrorists because they were too busy setting up fake döner shops (the police, not the terrorists). Ziercke’s a man who has honed the art of displaying naked aggression in the face of accusations. As Mely Kiyak put it in this brilliant, blistering column, describing what it’s like to watch Ziercke testify: “It was a disturbing moment to see the BKA chief, in the face of the wretched failure of his authority and his own personal failure, not slide under the table in shame.” I guess that’s what makes you a police chief round here.