Allied Services (I)

BERLIN/WASHINGTON | | usa

BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - The German Chancellor has announced initial measures in the scandal surrounding the comprehensive internet and telephone surveillance by the US American and British intelligence services. In view of the most recent reports of US espionage, including in EU facilities, Angela Merkel declared through her spokesperson, "that is unacceptable." After all, "the cold war is over." Other ostentatious signs of protest had been initiated yesterday. What still remains a mystery is to what extent German authorities have been involved themselves in this telephone and internet surveillance. For years, it has been known that cooperation between western intelligence agencies had been greatly intensified as the result of an October 4, 2001 NATO decision. The German government still remains silent on the channels and extent of the transfer of secret data, as well as on the legwork Germany is suspected to have provided for US authorities. Recent reports point to old intelligence agency cooperation accords concluded in the cold war period. These were secret agreements, which remain in force to this day.

Comprehensively Spied On

The German government has reacted with ostentatious outrage at the most recent media reports on US surveillance measures. According to these reports, the US military's NSA (National Security Agency) intelligence agency not only has under surveillance approximately 500 million telephone calls, SMSes, and emails, in Germany alone, it also has EU facilities in Washington, New York and Brussels, along with UN diplomatic missions of France, Italy and Greece under surveillance. "That is unacceptable," declared Angela Merkel, through her spokesperson. Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich demanded an apology from the USA. The German President has also declared that the reports are "very disturbing."[1] Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the US ambassador. The debate has escalated, since it became known that the NSA is not only spying on private individuals but also on official organs.

Daily Exchange

Beyond the current debate on the NSA's surveillance of diplomatic missions and the EU, the question of the evident cooperation between German and US intelligence agencies in surveillance of the internet in Germany, still remains unanswered. From the very beginning, the claims by the government and the BND of having had no idea about these NSA activities have only provoked a bored smile from specialists. "Experts have known that for a long time," insists BND expert, Erich Schmidt-Eenboom. "The German government must long since have also known about it through BND evaluations and Studies by the Federal Office of Information Security (BSI)." The "uproar" in Berlin is, "feigned, in this question."[2] This can also to be seen in the fact that German intelligence agencies readily admit that they were only made aware of certain plans for terror attacks - for example the Islamist "Sauerland Group" - through indications gleaned from the internet by "allied intelligence agencies." The information exchange on such "cases" constitutes "the daily routine cooperation between intelligence agencies," according to reports. This is not only the case for cooperation between various domestic surveillance agencies in Germany - for example the Joint Anti-Terror Headquarters (GTAZ) - but even "in institutionalized" and "informal circles at the international level" as well.[3]

Secret Accords

International cooperation in espionage was greatly enhanced following the attacks on September 11, 2001. The western nations, still today, are maintaining stringent secrecy over the extent as well as the concrete cooperation structures. Initial indications had been provided by the report issued in 2007, by the Swiss jurist, Dick Marty, serving as special investigator for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The grounds for and object of the investigation, at the time, was the cooperation with the CIA in operations leading to torture, in which terrorist suspects were regularly kidnapped and brutally tormented. Germany had also participated in this cooperation. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[4]) In his report, Marty concluded that the basis of cooperation for torture had been laid by the October 4, 2001 NATO decision. NATO publically admitted that on that day, an expansion of the transfer of intelligence agency information and cooperation - both bilaterally, and within the NATO framework - had also been decided. Marty had to have it confirmed in Brussels that a sector of that October 4, decision, unanimously taken by the NATO countries, must be kept secret.[5] This has remained the case.

Tactics and Tricks

It is known that since September 11, 2001, the NSA has enormously expanded its espionage activities. Also known is that Western intelligence services have created new exchange channels, outside of the usual channels of cooperation. One of these channels, "Alliance Base" had been functioning for a few years in Paris, with the participation of services from the four Anglo-Saxon powers - USA, Great Britain, Canada and Australia - as well as France and Germany. This facility went far beyond a mere exchange of intelligence to organize arrests of suspects, including German citizens.[6] The facility was disbanded in 2009, because of dissention between the USA and France. There is no knowledge of successor projects. However, according to reports, "Alliance Base" was not unique, but rather a model for cooperation, which is carried out - "often in tentative arrangements" - "of handfuls" of intelligence officers from participating countries.[7] The article explicitly states that "Alliance Base" provided German case officers access to information from their own country's law enforcement authorities via allied agencies - an access they are denied at home. This is nothing but a trick that exposes the little known tactical advantages of international intelligence service cooperation.

Mutually Supplied

Another tactical advantage for German intelligence services is obviously that of acquiring, through cooperation with their western counterparts, free access to information that they are prohibited, by law, to collect at home. German espionage is downright "dependent on cooperation," according to reports - also "because German data protection and data storage laws" impose "limitations on their radius of activities."[8] However, the BND also contributes its own espionage capabilities and intelligence to this cooperation. As the British press reports, documents from Europe and the USA indicate that at least seven EU member states have formally signed agreements to supply the US agencies with espionage data. Those countries are Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Germany. According to this report, experts have confirmed that this refers to the supply of data gleaned from telephone and internet surveillance. The legal framework for this agreement dates back to an accord in 1955.[9]

Administrative Agreement

Since last year, based on his comprehensive study on the monitoring of postal and telephone communications in former West Germany, entitled "Germany under Surveillance," the historian Joseph Foschepoth in Freiburg, has repeatedly reported on secret accords from that period. Foschepoth had not only learned that, at times, up to 80 percent of all postal correspondence sent from East to West Germany had been intercepted by West German authorities, and up to 80 percent of that total had been destroyed, but, above all, he has reported on the accords regulating cooperation of intelligence services. He has found that in 1968, Bonn concluded a secret administrative agreement, which, based on agreements of the 1950s, had obligated the German government "to carry out surveillance of post and telecommunication for the Western victorious powers, or to allow them to carry out this surveillance themselves." According to Foschepoth, this administrative agreement "remains unaltered in force, today." This provides the legal basis for US military intelligence agencies to autonomously execute "surveillance of the post and telecommunication traffic" in Germany.[10] The German government still maintains its silence as to whether the practical German-US-American espionage cooperation is based on this accord, or on measures taken in the context of the "War On Terror" following September 11, 2001, or even both, being interwoven, just as it is not forthcoming with the answer to how far this extends.

[1] Merkel nennt NSA-Aktion "inakzeptabel"; www.zeit.de 01.07.2013
[2] "Deutschland ist für Spione so wichtig wie China"; www.ovb-online.de 26.06.2013
[3] So profitiert der BND von den NSA-Spähprogrammen; www.faz.net 27.06.2013
[4] see also Sinking Into Barbarism (II), Examined and Interrogated and Boycott through Silence
[5] see also Oktober 2001
[6], [7] Help From France Key In Covert Operations; www.washingtonpost.com 03.07.2005. See also Abgrundtiefe Doppelzüngigkeit and Interview mit Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger
[8] So profitiert der BND von den NSA-Spähprogrammen; www.faz.net 27.06.2013
[9] Key US-EU trade pact under threat after more NSA spying allegations; www.guardian.co.uk 30.06.2013
[10] Historiker Josef Foschepoth über den systematischen Bruch des Postgeheimnisses in der Bundesrepublik; www.badische-zeitung.de 09.02.2013