NSA-BND Scandal: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil (Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany)
"The BND affair began as early as 2002. In the year following
the 9-11 attacks, the BND and NSA signed a
'Memorandum of Understanding.' … The Germans were expected to support American
communications monitoring: The NSA provided the BND
with search terms, the so-called selectors, which were used to trawl through
data streams. … In 2005 the BND made an unpleasant
discovery: The NSA has provided search terms by which the Americans wanted to
spy on German/European companies EADS (now Airbus) and Eurocopter,
as well as the French authorities. Apparently, the Chancellery was not
The NSA affair is
putting the government under increasing pressure. This week, Interior Minister
and former head of the Federal Chancellery Thomas de Maizière
will come before the Parliamentary Oversight Committee. The affair has also
been a topic of discussion during the Bundestag’s Current Topics Period [set
aside for questions by Bundestag members]. Also this week, the NSA Committee of
Inquiry will meet.
Over the next few days, a new movement may emerge regarding
the NSA/BND scandal:On Wednesday [May 6], Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière
(CDU) plans to answer questions before the
Bundestag’s Parliamentary Oversight Committee. The committee is responsible for
overseeing the work of the intelligence services as well as BND
President Gerhard Schindler. And the head of the Federal Chancellery, Peter Altmaier (CDU), may also make an
Also on May 6, the Bundestag Committee on Legal Affairs will
address the question of the BND’s role in the
surveillance of European government agencies, politicians and businesses by the
U.S. intelligence service the NSA. Attorney
General Harald Range is expected to inform lawmakers
about the investigation his office has initiated due to the allegations against
On May 7, the Bundestag Committee of Inquiry will meet to
question several BND employees about the affair - and
perhaps BND President Schindler as well. In addition,
committee chairmen are demanding access to a list of "selectors" used
by the BND to spy on behalf of the NSA.
According to the SaarbrückerZeitung, Federal Chancellery Chief of Staff Altmaier intends to provide the Bundestag with information
on the affair in the coming week.
Also in the
coming week as reported by the SaarbrückerZeitung, it seems Chancellery Minister Altmaier will be obliged to inform the Bundestag on the
Just the sheer number of politicians and agencies that have
played and continue to play a role in this affair shows how chaotic the situation
is. Here is an overview:
2002 - Delicate
The BND affair began as early as
2002. In the year following the September 11 attacks, the German Federal
Intelligence Service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND and the U.S. intelligence agency NSA signed to
“Memorandum of Understanding" on closer cooperation.
Over the next few years, the German service, under Federal
Chancellery oversight and vested in the person of Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier (SPD) took over
the NSA's listening post at Bad Aibling.
In exchange, the Germans were expected to support American communications
monitoring: The NSA provided the BND with search
terms, the so-called selectors, which were used to trawl through data streams.
The aim of the authorities, with the help of these telephone
numbers, e-mail and IP addresses, was to uncover information that could prove
helpful in combating terrorism. Allegedly, German citizens were not to be
monitored. What was obviously not made clear: how the Americans would be
prevented from spying on its European friends.
2005 - An Unpleasant
Discovery without Consequence
In 2005 the BND made an unpleasant
discovery: The NSA had also provided search terms by which the Americans wanted
to spy on German/European companies EADS (now Airbus) and Eurocopter,
as well as the French authorities. Subsequently, there was no systematic BND review of the U.S.-supplied search terms, which in fact
was required under internal directives. Apparently, the Chancellery was not
2008 – The
Chancellery is Informed; the NSA Plays Foul
Not until February 2008 does the BND
send a confidential report on these findings to the Chancellery. Apparently,
Chancellery Chief of Staff Thomas de Maizière is
apparently not informed. Most likely due to information provided by the BND about NSA rule breaking, de Maizière
refuses to allow the BND to collaborate with the
Americans on the tapping of a European fiber optic cable. After all, the
reasoning was, the NSA might attempt to monitor our European allies.
2010 – The
Chancellery is Informed Again
In 2010, the BND again informed
the Chancellery about the fact that the U.S. had attempted to spy ondefense contractor
EADS, Eurocopter and French authorities. There
appears to be no record of a reaction on the part of the Chancellery, which was
then directed by Ronald Pofalla (CDU).
2013 – A Scandal No
One Hears about
In July 2013, whistleblower Edward Snowden went public. The
world learned of the extensive surveillance of data streams conducted in
particular by the American and British intelligence services. Chancellery Chief
of Staff Ronald Pofalla sought to downplay the
affair, yet the NSA even tapped the mobile phone of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Besides, Pofalla also must have known by 2010 at the
latest that the NSA, with BND assistance, has been
attempted to gather information about German/European enterprises and French
On August 14th 2013, a BND
employee noticed again that the NSA sent "selectors" intended for
monitoring European institutions. It turned out that roughly 12,000
unauthorized search terms were in use. They affect approximately 2,000 people
and institutions like the European Commission, the French Foreign Ministry and
the Élysée Palace in Paris. The BND
began to more closely examine precisely what the NSA had been targeting. By now
the list of "selectors" rejected by the BND
had risen to more than 40,000 - the NSA has sent a total of several million.
Neither BND President Schindler
nor those responsible in the Federal Chancellery were informed - or a critics now wonder – is it possible that they didn’t want
to be informed?Neither is the
Bundestag's NSA Committee of Inquiry informed. In 2014, committee members
inquired specifically about the selectors - and were informed by BND employees that selectors were allegedly always checked
2015 – To the NSA
Affair is Added the BND
In February, the NSA Committee of Inquiry issued two
resolutions about taking evidence on whether the NSA and BND
collaborated to spy on German targets. It emerged that BND
chief Schindler allegedly didn't learn about the extent of American spying
until March 12, 2015 - about two years after the agency he leads knew of the
affair. He then forwarded the information to the Chancellery under Peter Altmaier.
On April 14, 2015
in response to an inquiry by the governing coalition's left-wing flank, the
Interior Ministry issued a statement denying there was evidence of industrial
espionage conducted on German soil by the NSA or any other U.S. service.
However, the Interior Ministry isn't responsible for the BND,
whereas the Chancellery is - and was likely involved with this response. Now,
while it may or may not be true that Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière had been uninformed, things are different when it
comes to Chancellery Chief of Staff Peter Altmaier.
After all, his “house” had been informed of what went on at the NSA and BND by at the latest March 12.
The BND affair is now putting
Berlin's governing coalition under increasing pressure. This is being felt not
only in the NSA Committee of Inquiry where chairman Patrick Sensburg
(CDU) has been critical of SPD
General Secretary YasminFahimi,
but within the Chancellery, since Fahimi thought out
loud about the need for consequences to be felt in the Chancellery.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
Sigmar Gabriel, who is SPD chief, minister of economic affairs and energy and a
vice chancellor, has now turned the spotlight on Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU). Twice she has denied any involvement in economic
espionage against German and European companies. Merkel has now signaled that
she herself would “love” to testify before the NSA Committee of Inquiry, should
she be invited to do so.