Friend and Foe

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – New reports are confirming the close cooperation of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) with the National Security Agency (NSA). According to these reports, BND agents have repeatedly visited the NSA headquarters at Fort Meade to discuss technical issues. The NSA has also furnished the BND instruments for analyzing intercepted data. A former head of the Austrian intelligence service has confirmed that it was a “common understanding among all European intelligence services” to be “aware” of the NSA Prism surveillance program. Already years ago, officials of the US military have been quoted saying that the US military espionage center that is being established in the Hessian capital Wiesbaden – and that will reportedly also be used by the NSA – is destined to gather information “on the current situation of friend and foe, and everything that can influence our mission.” The German government has also admitted that the Western block’s cooperation of the intelligence services – which includes abduction and torture of suspects in the so-called war on terror – dates back to secret agreements between the leading NATO powers during the post-WW II decades.

Common Understanding

It has become increasingly difficult for German authorities to deny knowledge of the incriminating NSA Prism program. In its broadcast, last Thursday, “Monitor” quoted Gert-René Polli, the former head of the Austrian “Federal Agency for State Protection and Counter Terrorism” (BVT) saying, “We knew the repercussions of this program. And this information and this knowledge were a common understanding among all European intelligence services – the German included.” Polli assumes that the BND has also been a “cooperation partner in the surveillance program” and that the German government will not be able to claim “too much longer” not having been aware of Prism.[3] “Der Spiegel” quotes US whistleblower Edward Snowden, who said that the NSA “has been in bed with the Germans.”[4] However, the NSA makes sure that the cooperating countries “can protect their top politicians from a backlash, in case it emerges how massively people’s privacy is violated worldwide.” This is not restricted to intelligence service measures, but applies also to other sensitive issues.

Nerve Center in Europe

According to “Der Spiegel,” the NSA will also be able to use the “Consolidated Intelligence Center,” being established in the Hessian capital Wiesbaden by the US Army. Reports on the upgrading of US military installations in Wiesbaden had already attracted public attention, years ago. ( reported [5]). According to the US Armed Forces this entire complex will constitute “the nerve center of the Army in Europe.”[6] The complex in Wiesbaden will include a so called “Network Warfare Center” and intelligence units. The “66th Military Intelligence Group,” for example, has been transferred to Wiesbaden from Darmstadt, where it had been stationed only since 2004 – following its relocation from its previous base in Bad Aibling, where it had been running a wiretapping operation. Anti-war activists, making reference to the intelligence service expert Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, report that the Darmstadt facilities are part of “the US Echelon global espionage system, which taps all satellite-based communication systems.” “Computers analyze faxes, emails and conversations.” This facility will possibly now be installed in Wiesbaden.[7] In the press, US military personnel have been quoted saying, already back in 2008, that information is supposed to be gathered in Wiesbaden “on the current situation of friend and foe and everything that can influence our mission.”[8]

Central Command for Abductions

The fact that Germany is sheltering principal US intelligence agencies on its territory and that these are closely cooperating with their German counterparts is nothing new. In his book published at the end of 2006, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom described another case that became quite significant in the so-called war on terror. He wrote that the CIA’s Frankfurt station is home to “over two hundred intelligence operatives” – “three times as many as in Bagdad,” where “the agency has its largest Middle East residence.” The intelligence service expert reported that “when the last major team of CIA agents was dissolved in 1989, it was learned that their network had been commanded from Frankfurt.” But, above all, the journalist Stephen Grey had proven that the Frankfurt CIA station was “the world’s most important commando facility for abductions” of suspects by US intelligence services. Schmidt-Eenboom concluded that it is “evident that Germany had not only served, like other European countries, as a hub for abduction flights and transport of interrogation teams, but also, that Frankfurt was housing the planning staff and the central command for illegal abductions.“[9]

Secret Agreement

New press reports have confirmed that the exceedingly close cooperation of the German-US intelligence services dates also back to a 1968 administrative agreement. (’s report last week.[10]) This agreement stipulates that “the intelligence agencies of western allies can call upon the BND and the Federal Office of the Protection of the Constitution for help in intelligence matters,” (…) “the German agencies must provide raw data.” The German government now admits that this administrative agreement – stamped “secret” up until last year – is still in force, but claims it “has not been invoked since 1990” – because now there are several other – all classified “top secret” – “declarations of principles” that regulate “cooperation between the US intelligence services and the BND.” Besides, “earlier German governments have guaranteed the Americans the right, ‘in the case of pending danger’ to their armed forces” to take “‘appropriate protective measures’.”[11] This includes “the right for them to gather their own intelligence on German territory.” Berlin is profiting from this, because the BND regularly receives data in an exchange with the US services – data, by the way, that it is not allowed to collect inside its own country.

Full article: Friend and Foe (German Foreign Policy)

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