NSA Spying in Germany: How Much Did the Chancellor Know?

What everyday people don’t understand is that countries spy on other countries on a routine basis, even allies. Matter of fact, in the real geopolitical world there is no such thing as an ally, only ‘interests’ — especially to the United States. England has regularly spied on the US, and vice-versa. Much like the NSA/CIA/FBI, Interpol (European CIA equivalent) has even been given nearly full authority (with immunity) to act as they please on American soil, by this very same US administration.

In addition, the NSA spying had to have been known long ago and approved by these same foreign governments complaining and making a scandal out of it. In summary, this is only being turned into a ‘scandal’ to make sure the politicians don’t lose popularity among their respective voters. This is not to whitewash what’s going on, but to point out that the real scandal is that the politicians in such countries as France and Germany allowed it to happen, have been caught red-handed and are only putting on a show for public consumption.

While the Chancellery appears to be outraged by the NSA’s spying tactics in Germany, the opposition doubts the revelations came as a surprise to Angela Merkel. Just how much could she have known?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will have to be pretty clear with US President Barack Obama the next time she has him on the line. At least that’s a reasonable assumption, based on the anger she has expressed about American spying operations in the European Union and Germany.

“I demand an explanation, Barack,” the chancellor might say. After all, the president eloquently defended the Prism program on his recent visit to Berlin, but the Americans’ bugging, electronic eavesdropping and excessive data collection from allied European countries, which came to light this weekend, was not part of the conversation. Merkel is said to be quite rankled.

Who Informs Who?

The election campaign aside, there are good reasons to ask critical questions of not just the Americans, but the German government too. Intelligence expert Erich Schmidt-Eenboom says that Gabriel’s suspicion is “at least tendentially” correct. “According to my estimation, the authorities knew about this,” he told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

That’s because the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), which is responsible for protecting government networks, compiles threat analyses for the Interior Ministry. And adversaries include “not only China or Russia, but also the Anglo-Saxon services,” Schmidt-Eenboom said. Additionally, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency (BND) is familiar with the capacities of allied intelligence agencies, he added. In turn, the BND briefs the Chancellery, or more precisely its chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, who is responsible for coordinating the intelligence agencies. He then shares this information with the chancellor when he sees fit.

The Wednesday Phone Call

Why ask questions if the cooperation is working? Merkel knows that the US is extremely sensitive when it comes to national security. But she must also know, at least since the Wikileaks revelations three years ago, that the Americans are not here just to search for terrorists. It was then brought to light that the US Embassy was relying on insiders for information about the goverment coalition negotiations in 2009. This wasn’t espionage, but it showed that Washington is interested in information from Europe’s innermost circles of power.

The US president turned the tables once more on Monday in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: “In European capitals, there are people who are interested in, if not what I had for breakfast, then at least my talking points,” said Obama, in reference to the current activities of other countries’ intelligence agencies.

Full article: NSA Spying in Germany: How Much Did the Chancellor Know? (Spiegel Online)

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