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article imageDer Spiegel article analyzes NSA spying in Germany

By Ken Hanly     Jul 5, 2014 in World
Berlin - The German news outlet Der Spiegel has a recent interview with a lawyer for whistleblowers and an attorney who represents Edward Snowden about NSA spying in Germany and NSA's relations with the German intelligence service (BND}.
The two being interviewed are Jesselyn Radack who counts Edward Snowden as one of her clients. She previously was an advisor for the US Justice Department. The other person being interviewed Thomas Drake is also a client of Radack. Drake exposed abuses at NSA. In 2011 he was charged and convicted and put on probation by a US court on a misdemeanor charge. All serious charges were dismissed.
The interviewer notes that the federal prosecutor in Germany has recently opened an inquirty into the US surveillance of Angela Merkel's mobile phone but did not open a broader investigation into the mass surveillance of German citizens as he said there was no evidence to do so. In response to this Drake replied: It stretches the bounds of incredulity. Germany has become, after 9/11, the most important surveillance platform for the NSA abroad. The only German citizen granted protection by a statement by Barack Obama is Angela Merkel. All other Germans are obviously treated as suspects by the NSA.
Radack suggests that the lack of a general investigation is that the authorities do not want the truth revealed. The Germans may be complicit to a degree. The federal prosecutor also notes that he has no chance of obtaining evidence since all the evidence will be classified and the Americans are unlikely to cooperate. However, Radack points out that governments have ways to force people to testify, and to interview people. The prosecutor could at least try to subpoena people. If the subpoenas were ignored at least some people would lose the opportunity to travel to Europe.
The Snowden documents give a list of 150 different places where at least historically the NSA and its forerunners had conducted espionage in Germany. The sites are called Sigads. Drake said that the information collected went beyond intelligence relevant to security and included economic information as well. The Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) often cooperates with NSA and may collect information itself that it passes along to the US agency. The two have long historical associations. A famous case is evidence used to justify the US invasion of Iraq: On 5 February 2003, Colin Powell made the case for a military attack on Iraq in front of the UN Security Council. Powell supported his case with information received from the BND, instead of Mr. Hans Blix and the IAEA. The BND had collected intelligence from an informant known as Rafid al-Janabi alias CURVEBALL, who claimed Iraq would be in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction, apart from torturing and killing over 1000 dissidents (human persons) each year, for over 20 years. Rafid was employed before and after the 2003 incident which ultimately lead to the invasion of Iraq. The payments of 3000 Euros monthly were made by a cover firm called Thiele und Friedrichs (Munich).As a result of the premature cancellation, al-Janabi filed a lawsuit at the Munich industrial court and won the case.
Drake claims the intelligence cooperation traces back as far as the Cold War and that the relationship is unequal with NSA being the master. Former East German Stasi agent Klaus Eichner praises the abilities of NSA: Among all the Western agencies that were involved in communications intelligence, the NSA was the leader and the top intelligence agency -- from the perspective of both their equipment and their personnel.
However, he claims the Americans looked upon the Germans as very much junior partners who were mostly obedient but were "never of one mind and one heart". He said the US presence is still so massive on German territory that they are not dependent upon Germans for surveillance. Drake notes that the relationship of Germany to NSA is not as close as the so-called Five Eyes (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States) but approaches that.
After 9/11 Drake claims that Germany became a particular target for NSA since hijackers had lived in Germany, trained there, and communicated from the country. Drake became a whistleblower just a few months after 9/11 because he felt that NSA had violated the constitution and that the US just set aside the rules of law: Today, we have the greatest surveillance platform the world has ever seen. This is why I shudder. National security has become a state religion. They say they want to keep us safe, but from whom?
While Drake admits that there may be the odd case where surveillance actually prevents a terrorist attack that nevertheless , "99.9 percent, is not about security. It's about controlling people and information."
A new scandal is now developing in Germany as a member of the BND has been arrested by the public prosecutor. Although originally arrested for allegedly passing on information to Russian intelligence, he claimed under questioning that he received money in exchange to providing secret information to a US contact: According to Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the employee had been approached several times by the NSA, at least once with a specific request for information on the Bundestag's investigation into NSA surveillance.According to Der Spiegel, the BND staffer had collected between 200 and 300 secret documents from internal servers and saved them onto a USB stick. He reportedly sold the documents to US intelligence services between 2012 and 2014 for tens of thousands of euros.
More about Der spiegel, NSA BND relations, Angela merkel
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