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Memo to Merkel: Get a Grip!

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COMMENT: With the rhetorical firestorm of faux outrage coming from the EU and Angela Merkel’s office over NSA spying, it is important to recall some very important information.

Much of what is presented below will be review for veteran listeners/readers.

We call attention to Ernst Uhrlau, chief of police in Hamburg during the time period in which German intelligence had taken the Hamburg cell of 9/11 hijackers under surveillance. In 1998, he was appointed special adviser to Chancellor Helmut Kohl on intelligence matters

(The son of Helmut Kohl’s chief of staff, Andreas Strassmeir, may well have been the mastermind of the Oklahoma City bombing. See the photo at right and discussion below. With Uhrlau as special adviser to Chancellor Kohl on intelligence matters, and with Andreas Strassmeir apparently having overseen the OKC bombing plot, there is ample reason to bug the Chancellor’s phone!)

In 2005, Uhrlau became head of the BND!

It should come as no surprise that the NSA would target Germany as a “hot spot” for electronic surveillance. An overview of the most important terrorist incidents affecting the United States over the last quarter of a century reveals important evidentiary tributaries leading to Germany:

  • The bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988 was executed in Germany. The bomb was placed aboard the plane in Germany and the bombers were heavily infiltrated by German intelligence. One or more of the cell of bombers was a German intelligence operative. 
  • The financing for the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 came from operatives in Germany.
  • The actual mastermind of the Oklahoma City bombing, according to ATF informant Carol Howe, was Andreas Strassmeier. Strassmeir was a “former” Bundeswehr officer and the son of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s chief of staff. Andreas’ grandfather was one of the charter members of the NSDAP under Hitler. The resemblance between Strassmeir and “John Doe #2” is striking.
  • Not only did the 9/11 hijack conspirators coalesce in Hamburg, but there is strong evidence that German intelligence was involved with the attack. Many of hijacker Mohamed Atta’s associates in South Florida were Germans. Atta was moved around under the cover of the Carl Duisberg Society (Gesellschaft). (See text excerpts below.) In Florida, he was associating with the sons and daughters of prominent German industrialists. (See text excerpts below.) Of interest, also, is the fact that CIA pilots apparently made a “run” to the Bormann ranch. (See text excerpts below.) This sounds like a regular route. In our conversations with Daniel Hopsicker, we have noted that the South Florida aviation milieu had been a focal point of covert operations for decades, dating back to the Second World War. The Bormann ranch was in the three-borders area highlighted in FTR #457. Did the German associates of Mohamed Atta come up the other end of that pipeline?
  • There are numerous evidentiary tributaries between the first World Trade Center attack, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 attacks, as set forth in FTR #330.
  • The “vacuum cleaner” activities of NSA/GCHQ have been known for a long time–we have done programs about it dating back many years. The formal, public attack on the ECHELON network began in 1998. That attack came from Germany and Underground Reich-associated elements such as the Free Congress Foundation. 
  • In August of 1998, several things happened almost simultaneously–as the German/EU/Free Congress Foundation/Underground Reich attack on ECHELON/Menwith Hill was gaining momentum, Osama bin Laden stopped using his cell phone and began using couriers for important communication. At this time, German intelligence had the Hamburg cell (of 9/11 hijackers) under electronic surveillance. German intelligence did NOT alert the United States. 
  • The chief of the Hamburg police in this precise time period was Ernst Uhrlau. In 1998, Uhlrlau was appointed special adviser to the Chancellor on intelligence matters. (The Chancellor at the time was Helmut Kohl. Kohl’s chief of staff was Gunther Strassmeier, father of the aforementioned Andreas Strassmeier!)
  • In 2005, Uhrlau was appointed head of the BND!
  • In an update, we learn that Germany is threatening to suspend the SWIFT agreement allowing the U.S. to track bank transfer data to monitor the flow of terrorist money. The German justice minister said she fears the program is used to gather economic intelligence. Noting the relatinship between the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft and German corporations, it isn’t much of a reach to extrapolate that the Bormann capital network is a focal point of that intelligence gathering.
  • Mohamed Atta studied German at the Goethe Institute, widely used as a front for the BND.
  • A fascinating and important detail concerning the hijackers is the fact that Yeslam bin Laden’s SICO subsidiary trained its pilots at Rudi Dekkers’ Huffman Aviation in Venice, Florida! Huffman is the school at which Atta and company were “trained.” Although he denies it, there are profound indications that Yeslam and SICO are involved with the activities of Al Qaeda. This subject will be dealt with at greater length below. Note that there are numerous connections between the milieu of Huffman Aviation and the Iran-Contra-connected drug smuggling routes. Recall that SICO personnel were involved with some of these Iran-Contra drug routes.
  • The co-chairman of the board of directors of SICO is Baudoin Dunand a friend and professional associate of Francois Genoud. He also was Genoud’s counsel.
  • Reprising an item of discussion from FTR#357, the program cites the opinion of Ernest Backes (one of Europe’s foremost experts on money laundering) concerning the role of Francois Genoud in the development of the events of 9/11. Genoud (who committed suicide in 1996) was very close to Al Taqwa personages, especially Achmed Huber. Bank Al Taqwa appears to have played a significant role in the financing of Al Qaeda’s activities, as well as those of Hamas. According to Backes, Genoud was also a financial adviser to the Bin Laden family.
  • It is important, in this context, to review the Clearstream financial network. The connecting links between Clearstream, Al Taqwa, the Banco del Gottardo (formerly the Swiss branch of the Banco Ambrosiano) and Bin Laden were further described by one of Clearstream’s founders, Ernest Backes. Note the opening of 16 unregistered accounts by SICO in the spring of 2001. Is there a relationship between the liquidation of the financial entities in early 2001 by Rochat, Dunand and Zucker and the opening of the Clearstream accounts at approximately the same time?

“Embassy Espionage: The NSA’s Secret Spy Hub in Berlin” by SPIEGEL staff; Der Spiegel; 10/27/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . Former NSA employee Thomas Drake does not see this as a contradiction. “After the attacks of September 11, 2001, Germany became intelligence target number one in Europe,” he says. The US government did not trust Germany, because some of the Sept. 11 suicide pilots had lived in Hamburg. . . .

“Ernst Uhrlau”; Wikipedia.

EXCERPT: . . . . From 1996-98, Ernst Uhrlau was the Chief of Hamburg Police. In 1998, Uhrlau was appointed a Coordinator of the Intelligence Community in the office of the Chancellor.

On 1 December 2005, he was appointed to the post of the head of the BND. . . .

“Ger­mans Were Track­ing Sept. 11 Con­spir­a­tors as Early as 1998, Doc­u­ments Dis­close” by Desmond But­ler; New York Times; 1/18/2003; p. A10.

EXCERPT: . . . . Three years before the Sept. 11 attacks, Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice was track­ing promi­nent mem­bers of the Ham­burg ter­ror­ist cell that planned and exe­cuted the air­craft hijack­ings, accord­ing to newly obtained doc­u­ments. The doc­u­ments, includ­ing intel­li­gence reports, sur­veil­lance logs and tran­scripts of inter­cepted tele­phone calls, appear to con­tra­dict pub­lic claims by the Ger­man author­i­ties that they knew lit­tle about the mem­bers of the Ham­burg cell before the attacks.

As early as 1998, the records show, the Ger­mans mon­i­tored a meet­ing between men sus­pected of plot­ting the attacks. The sur­veil­lance would lead a year later to the Ham­burg apart­ment where Mohamed Atta and other main plot­ters were liv­ing while attend­ing uni­ver­si­ties. While the records do not indi­cate that author­i­ties heard any men­tion of a spe­cific plan, they depict a sur­veil­lance mis­sion exten­sive enough to raise anew the polit­i­cally sen­si­tive ques­tion of whether the Ger­mans missed a chance to dis­rupt the cell dur­ing the ini­tial stages of plan­ning the attacks. Some Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tors and offi­cials have argued that the Ger­mans in the past missed evi­dence that could have stopped the plot. The Ger­mans have main­tained stead­fastly that the infor­ma­tion they had was too scanty to war­rant seri­ous alarm, and that their police and intel­li­gence agen­cies were not focused on Al Qaeda at the time.

The doc­u­ments come from the files of var­i­ous Ger­man police and intel­li­gence agen­cies. They detail how close an inves­ti­ga­tion of Qaeda con­tacts in Ham­burg begun in 1997 by the Con­sti­tu­tional Pro­tec­tion Agency, Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice, came to the main cell mem­bers. They were pro­vided to The New York Times by some­one with offi­cial access to the files of the con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the events lead­ing to the Sept. 11 attacks. When the doc­u­ments were described to offi­cials at the Ger­man Inte­rior Min­istry and the con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tion police, they declined to answer any ques­tions about them but did not dis­pute their authenticity . . .

. . . . Mr. Motas­sadeq admit­ted that he knew Mr. Atta and other plot­ters and had attended Qaeda train­ing camps in Afghanistan. He has main­tained in trial tes­ti­mony that he did not know that his friends were plan­ning to attack the United States. No evi­dence has been pre­sented at his three-month trial that would reveal when the police first opened an inquiry into Mr. Motas­sadeq. But the intel­li­gence agency doc­u­ments show that by August 1998 he was under sur­veil­lance and that the trail soon led to most of the main par­tic­i­pants in the later attacks. [It was in August of 1998 that President Clinton ordered the cruise missile strike against Bin Laden and the same month that Bin Laden went to a courier system instead of using his cell phone. Note, also, that the head of the Hamburg police at the time the surveillance of the Hamburg cell was in place became head of the BND in 2005!–D.E.]

Accord­ing to the doc­u­ments, the sur­veil­lance was in place on Aug. 29, 1998, when Mr. Motas­sadeq and Mohamed Hay­dar Zam­mar, who had already been iden­ti­fied by police as a sus­pected extrem­ist, met at the Ham­burg home of Said Bahaji. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s] The police mon­i­tored sev­eral other meet­ings between the men in the months that fol­lowed, the doc­u­ments said. The record of the meet­ing shows that police had iden­ti­fied Mr. Bahaji, another per­son sus­pected of being a cell mem­ber and believed to have been inti­mately involved in the plan­ning and logis­tics of the plot, who fled to Pak­istan days before the attacks. Mr. Bahaji later moved in with Mr. Atta and Ramzi bin al-Shibh in the now-infamous apart­ment at 54 Marien­strasse in the Har­burg sec­tion of Hamburg[There are profound indications of a link between Mohamed Atta and the BND–D.E.]. . .

“Europe Mulls Sanctions Against U.S. over Spying” by Frank Jordans and Ciaran Giles; Ohio.com; 10/28/2013.

EXCERPT: . . . . As possible leverage, German authorities cited last wek’s non-binding  resolution by the European Parliament to suspend a post-9/11 agreement allowing the Americans access to bank transfer data to track the flow of terrorist money.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schmarrenberger said Mnday she believed the Americans were using the information to gather economic intelligence apart from terorism and that the deal, popularly known as the SWIFT agreement, should be suspended.

That would represent a sharp rebuke to the United States from some of its closest partners. . . .

Mohamed Atta; Wikipedia.

EXCERPT: . . . . In 1990, Atta graduated with a degree in architecture,[15] and joined the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated Engineers Syndicate organization.[8] For several months after graduating, Atta worked at the Urban Development Center in Cairo, where he worked on architectural, planning, and building design.[16] In 1990, Atta’s family moved into an 11th floor apartment in Giza.[15][17]

Upon graduating from Cairo University, Atta’s marks were average and insufficient to be accepted into the University’s graduate program. His father insisted he go abroad for graduate studies, and had Atta enroll in a German language program at the Goethe Institute in Cairo.[18] [Italics added.] In 1992, Atta’s father invited a German couple over for dinner while they were visiting Cairo. The German couple ran an exchange program between Germany and Egypt, and suggested that Atta continue his studies in Germany. They offered him a temporary place to live at their house in the city. Mohamed Atta ended up in Germany two weeks later, in July 1992. . . .

Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website by Daniel Domscheit-Berg; English translation copyright 2011 by Crown Publishers [Random House imprint]; ISBN 978-0-307-95191-5; p. 58.

EXCERPT: . . . . Using the WikiScanner, one can trace what changes have been made to Wikipdia entries from any given IP address. Employees of the BND had made changes to the entries on military aircraft, nuclear weapons and the BND itself.

 Even more amusing were the “corrections” made to the entries made to the entries on the Goethe Institute,  the German government’s premier institution for promoting German language and culture around the world. Originally, the entry had stated that many Goethe Institute offices had served as unofficial points of contact by the BND. BND employees had altered it to say the exact opposite: “Foreign branches of the Goethe Institute are not used as unofficial homes for the BND.” . . .   

“History of the Carl Duisberg Society”

EXCERPT: In the 1920’s, Carl Duisberg, General Director of Bayer AG in Germany, envisioned sending German students to the United States on work-study programs. Duisberg was convinced that international practical training was critical to the growth of German industry. Many of the returning trainees later rose to prominent positions at AEG, Bayer, Bosch, Daimler Benz, and Siemens, bringing with them new methods for mass production, new ideas, and new business practices. Following World War II, alumni from the first exchanges founded the Carl Duisberg Gesellschaft (CDG) in 1949 to help engineers, businessmen and farmers gain international work experience necessary for the rebuilding of Germany . . . .

Excerpt from the Description for FTR #484

. . . . Daniel also notes that some of Atta’s German associates in Florida were sons and daughters of prominent German industrialists. . . .

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile by Paul Manning; p. 292.

EXCERPT: . . . A for­mer CIA con­tract pilot, who once flew the run into Paraguay and Argentina to the Bor­mann ranch described the estate as remote, ‘worth your life unless you entered their air space with the right iden­ti­fi­ca­tion codes. . . .

Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta & the 9-11 Cover-Up in Florida by Daniel Hopsicker; Madcow Press [HC]; Copyright 2004 by Daniel Hopsicker; ISBN 0-9706591-6-4;. p. 178. Be sure to visit Daniel’s website for ordering information about this book.

EXCERPT . . . Swiss police questioned Yeslam [bin Laden] because one of his companies, Avcon Air Charter, had offered flight training to clients at the Venice flight school attended by some of the hijackers. As a result of what Le Monde called ‘a still unexplained coincidence,’ the pilots of Yeslam bin Laden’s company trained at Huffman Aviation in Florida, the paper stated. ‘I didn’t chose that flight school,’ Yeslam protested. ‘I don’t have contact with my half-brother since over 20 years ago.’ . . .

In the Name of Osama Bin Laden; by Roland Jacquard; Copyright 2002 [SC]; Duke University Press; ISBN 0-8223-2991-3; pp. 17-18.

EXCERPT:. . . .This company, established by the bin Ladens in 1980, is the flagship for the group’s activities in Europe. It is headed by Yeslam bin Laden, and the board of directors is made up almost exclusively of members of the family clan, except for a Swiss citizen, Baudoin Dunand. This well-known lawyer from French-speaking Switzerland, who is on the boards of several dozen companies, came to public notice in 1983 when he agreed to represent the Swiss banker Francois Genoud, a controversial figure who had been a disciple of Hitler and sole heir of Goebbels’s copyrights before becoming one of the financiers of the FLN during the Algerian War. The friendships of the bin Ladens sometimes seem surprising, but they are logical: Francois Genoud has always been pro-Arab. . . .

“Insidergeschäfte vor den Terroranschlägen in den USA? [Insider Trading Prior to the Terror Attacks in the US?]: Speculating on Terror—Who Profited from the Attacks?” by Rolf Bovier & Pierre Matthias; Bayerische Rundfunk Online (BR-Online); 9/25/2001.

EXCERPT: . . . . Financial expert Ernest Backes of Luxembourg has [studied] white-collar crime in the field of banking for many years. According to him, there are indications of unusual transactions with which the groups [associated with] bin Laden could have earned money. ‘You can, for example, examine whether, within a certain time period there’s been an attack against the securities of a given airline company. Since these securities are safe in a ‘clearing system,’ you can’t get an overall view, who the owner was at a given time.’ . . . According to Backes’ information, the trail leads to Switzerland, to the accounts of an organization that was founded by the late lawyer Francois Genoud and evidently still survives. Says Backes, ‘One of the grounds for accusation is that this Swiss attorney had the closest connections with the Bin Laden family, that he was an advisor to the family, one of its investment bankers. It’s known for certain, that he supported terrorism and was the estate executor for Hitler and part of the terror milieu.’ [Emphasis added.]”

“Banking with Bin Laden” by Lucy Komisar [sidebar to “Explosive Revelation$”]In These Times; 3/15/2002.

EXCERPT: . . . .In November, U.S. authorities named some banks that had bin Laden accounts, and it put them on a blacklist. One was Al Taqwa, ‘Fear of God,’ registered in the Bahamas with offices in Lugano, Switzerland. Al Taqwa had access to the Clearstream system through its correspondent account with the Banca del Gottardo in Lugano, which has a published Clearstream account (No. 74381). But Bin Laden may have other access to the unpublished system. In what he calls a ‘spectacular discovery,’ Ernest Backes reports that in the weeks before CEO Andre Lussi was forced to leave Clearstream last May, a series of 16 unpublished accounts were opened under the name of the Saudi Investment Company, or SICO, the Geneva holding company of the Saudi Binladen Group, which is run by Osama’s brother Yeslam Binladen (some family members spell the name differently.) Yeslam Binladen insists that he has nothing to do with his brother, but evidence suggests SICO is tied into Osama’s financial network. [Emphasis added.] SICO is associated with Dar Al-Maal-Al-Islami (DMI), an Islamic financial institution also based in Geneva and presided over by Prince Muhammed Al Faisal Al Saoud, a cousin of Saudi King Fahd, that directs millions a year to fundamentalist movements. DMI holds a share of the Al Shamal Islamic Bank of Sudan, which was set up in 1991 and partly financed by $50 million from Osama bin Laden. Furthermore, one of SICO’s administrators, Geneva attorney Baudoin Dunand, is a partner in a law firm, Magnin Dunand & Partners, that set up the Swiss financial services company SBA, a subsidiary of the SBA Bank in Paris, which is controlled by the bin Mahfouz family.”

“World Briefing | Europe: Report On U.S. Spy System” by Suzanne Daley; The New York Times; 9/6/2001.

EXCERPT: [Notice when this was published–9/6/2001.–D.E.] . . . The United States-led spying system known as Echelon can monitor virtually every communication in the world — by e-mail, phone or fax — that bounces off a satellite, the European Parliament was told. But in reporting on a yearlong study of the system that was prompted by concern that American companies were using data from the system to gain a competitive edge, Gerhard Schmid, a German member of the Parliament, said that many European countries had similar abilities . . .

 

 

Discussion

18 comments for “Memo to Merkel: Get a Grip!”

  1. Dave: This might seem like a stupid and/or rhetorical question but I want to say it anyway. Assuming the NSA knows all this, (how can they possibly not?)why don’t they start alerting Americans and its allies to the dangers that the BND and its supporters have represented for many years? Do they think that it’s just too nutty for most people to accept? It could be implied that the NSA has maintained a patriotic stance in spite of overlooking the many assassinations and unresolved political scandals over the last 50 years.

    Posted by Brad | October 29, 2013, 9:06 am
  2. This article on the history of the ‘Five Eyes’ spying pact, and the possibility that France and Germany are going to be added a couple more eyes to the club, raises an interesting question: If Germany and France gain fuller access to that giant ‘Five Eyes’ treasure trove, how will this impact the sharing of that treasure treasure with all of the other EU countries as the EU’s spying inevitably becomes more integrated and coordinated? Is the increased intergovernmental sharing of global surveillance data possibly going to be of the outcomes of all this?

    Spying scandal: Will the ‘five eyes’ club open up?
    By Gordon Corera Security correspondent, BBC News
    28 October 2013 Last updated at 20:34 ET

    The ‘five eyes’ club was born out of Britain and America’s tight-knit intelligence partnership in World War II and particularly the work at Bletchley Park, breaking both German and Japanese codes.

    Code-breakers realised collaboration helped in overcoming some of the technical challenges and in being able to intercept communications around the world.

    Out of this experience came what was first called BRUSA and then rechristened UKUSA – a top secret intelligence-sharing alliance signed in March 1946.

    The details of the original agreement were classified for decades but were finally revealed in 2010 when files were released by both countries.

    The arrangement is described as “without parallel in the Western intelligence world”.

    Soon after the beginning of the Cold War, GCHQ and the NSA were born and the alliance formed the basis of their extremely tight co-operation during the Cold War – the real heart of what has been known as “the special relationship”.

    The club was also expanded to include three other English-speaking countries – Canada, Australia and New Zealand and so became known as the “five eyes”.

    So how does this club work? It is based on sharing with each other and not spying on each other.

    The US and UK human intelligence services (the CIA and MI6) do not run operations inside the other’s country without permission, but while the CIA and MI6 do share information they are not nearly as closely intertwined as their counterparts GCHQ and NSA. They deal in what is known as signals intelligence, which deals with communications.

    Under UKUSA, they share nearly – but not quite – everything, and do not target each other’s nationals without permission.

    One document leaked by the fugitive Edward Snowden reveals that the protection extends when intelligence is shared with other countries outside the club (so called “third parties”, a “second party” being any other member of the club).

    An agreement between the NSA and Israel published by the Guardian newspaper read that Israel “recognises that the NSA has agreements with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom that require it to protect information associated with UK persons, Australian persons, Canadian persons and New Zealand persons using procedures and safeguards similar to those applied for US persons”.

    That looks like traditional state-on-state espionage and is what is likely to be most angering European officials (although for public consumption they still need to make angry noises and protests about the collection of their ordinary citizens’ call records).

    Germany and France have suggested they may seek deals to end this kind of state-on-state espionage activity and one of the interesting questions is the extent to which what they really want is a no-spy deal like the one Britain enjoys, and effective membership of the existing club (or some modified version of it).

    However, one general rule about intelligence is that the more a secret is shared, the less secret it becomes.

    It is one reason why some are sceptical of sharing too much intelligence with the whole EU – secrets may not stay secret among 28.

    Could something be possible with some of the countries though?

    Some senior British intelligence officials are understood to be supportive of deepening and broadening the partnership with some European allies, although whether this means going so far as letting then into full membership is another matter.

    But with embarrassing revelations likely to continue, the way the club currently operates may well have to change.

    Another darkly amusing scenario that might emerge from all this is that Germany might need to find a new partner it trusts to spy on Germany and share all that intel with Germany intelligence. Because that very well might be part of the arrangement between the NSA and the BND: the NSA spies on Germans masses and then shares that with the BND, allowing the BND to accurately claim that it wasn’t spying on German citizens while still getting their domestic surveillance jollies (Don’t forget that the BND is already using Prism and XKeyscore). Could such an arrangement be in place already? If so, who might the German government go to for domestic surveillance they can trust if the NSA and GCHQ suddenly can’t spy on the Germans anymore? It can’t be France if they join the “Eyes” club too. Strange times call for strange questions.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 29, 2013, 1:09 pm
  3. Yesterday Diane Feinstein, ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, declared: “Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers,” and John McCain wants to start a Congressional committee to investigate “what the president knew, and when did he know it” regarding the foreign leader spying. Is the GOP going to try to turn this into another impeachment drive? It sounds absurd but you never know…

    And now there appears to be intelligence officials that are upset at Obama for not defending the NSA enough:

    The Los Angeles Times
    White House OKd spying on allies, U.S. intelligence officials say NSA and other U.S. intelligence agency staff members are said to be angry at President Obama for denying knowledge of the spying.

    By Ken Dilanian and Janet Stobart

    October 28, 2013, 7:25 p.m.

    WASHINGTON — The White House and State Department signed off on surveillance targeting phone conversations of friendly foreign leaders, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said Monday, pushing back against assertions that President Obama and his aides were unaware of the high-level eavesdropping.

    Professional staff members at the National Security Agency and other U.S. intelligence agencies are angry, these officials say, believing the president has cast them adrift as he tries to distance himself from the disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that have strained ties with close allies.

    The resistance emerged as the White House said it would curtail foreign intelligence collection in some cases and two senior U.S. senators called for investigations of the practice.

    France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Sweden have all publicly complained about the NSA surveillance operations, which reportedly captured private cellphone conversations by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, among other foreign leaders.

    On Monday, as Spain joined the protest, the fallout also spread to Capitol Hill.

    Until now, members of Congress have chiefly focused their attention on Snowden’s disclosures about the NSA’s collection of U.S. telephone and email records under secrevt court orders.

    “With respect to NSA collection of intelligence on leaders of U.S. allies — including France, Spain, Mexico and Germany — let me state unequivocally: I am totally opposed,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    “Unless the United States is engaged in hostilities against a country or there is an emergency need for this type of surveillance, I do not believe the United States should be collecting phone calls or emails of friendly presidents and prime ministers,” she said in a statement.

    Feinstein said the Intelligence Committee had not been told of “certain surveillance activities” for more than a decade, and she said she would initiate a major review of the NSA operation. She added that the White House had informed her that “collection on our allies will not continue,” although other officials said most U.S. surveillance overseas would not be affected.

    Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, said Congress should consider creating a special select committee to examine U.S. eavesdropping on foreign leaders.

    “Obviously, we’re going to want to know exactly what the president knew and when he knew it,” McCain told reporters in Chicago. “We have always eavesdropped on people around the world. But the advance of technology has given us enormous capabilities, and I think you might make an argument that some of this capability has been very offensive both to us and to our allies.”

    In Madrid, Spanish Foreign Ministry officials summoned the U.S. ambassador to object to the alleged NSA communications net in Spain. Citing documents leaked by Snowden, El Mundo, a major Spanish daily, said the U.S. spy agency had collected data on more than 60 million phone calls made in just 30 days, from early December 2012 to early January 2013.

    Precisely how the surveillance is conducted is unclear. But if a foreign leader is targeted for eavesdropping, the relevant U.S. ambassador and the National Security Council staffer at the White House who deals with the country are given regular reports, said two former senior intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in discussing classified information.

    Obama may not have been specifically briefed on NSA operations targeting a foreign leader’s cellphone or email communications, one of the officials said. “But certainly the National Security Council and senior people across the intelligence community knew exactly what was going on, and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”

    If U.S. spying on key foreign leaders was news to the White House, current and former officials said, then White House officials have not been reading their briefing books.

    Some U.S. intelligence officials said they were being blamed by the White House for conducting surveillance that was authorized under the law and utilized at the White House.

    “People are furious,” said a senior intelligence official who would not be identified discussing classified information. “This is officially the White House cutting off the intelligence community.”

    Citing documents from Snowden, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported last week that the NSA’s Special Collection Service had monitored Merkel’s cellphone since 2002. Obama subsequently called Merkel and told her he was not aware her phone had been hacked, U.S. officials said.

    Intelligence officials also disputed a Wall Street Journal article Monday that said the White House had learned only this summer — during a review of surveillance operations that might be exposed by Snowden — about an NSA program to monitor communications of 35 world leaders. Since then, officials said, several of the eavesdropping operations have been stopped because of political sensitivities.

    So yesterday a “furious” intelligence community was making anonymous statements to the press about Obama’s lack of support for the NSA while Feinstein and McCain call for investigations to look into how Obama could have done all this spying behind their backs? This is getting a little Lord of the Flies-ish (they’re still trying to determine who’s going to be Piggy).

    And today we see James Clapper testifying before Congress that the White House officials must have known about the NSA’s intelligence gathering efforts against foreign leaders. They’re also asserting that the recent reports of NSA surveillance of EU nations wasn’t surveillance collected by the NSA but instead metadata collected by EU intelligence agencies and handed over to the NSA.

    Are we seeing a media spy war emerge from this? A “he said, she said” affair of clandestine activities? Because that could be quite the spectacle and it might even be a more informative spectacle than the one we’re currently getting. Sure, Clapper is almost certainly obfuscating when he says these things, but we all know that. What’s less clear is how much obfuscating we’re seeing from the EU intelligence agencies or to what extent the picture presented by reports on the Snowden documents represent an incomplete picture of a much larger and more complicated global spying alliance. Is the NSA the US’s ‘Big Brother’ or is it merely the Biggest Brother as part of a global ‘Big Brother’ apparatus? It’s not at all clear from the Snowden reports that it’s the former and not the latter?

    As strange as it seems, a media spy war with a flurry of competing disinfo might actually help clear all this up a bit. So…..fight! fight! fight! fight!

    The Australian
    Sorry, Angela, but Berlin does it too

    Toby Harnden and Bojan Pancevski
    October 28, 2013 12:00AM

    WHEN Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, was told last week that her trusty Nokia 6210 Slide had been monitored by the US National Security Agency from Fort Meade, Maryland, her reaction seemed to be one of genuine outrage.

    What she might have paused to consider, however, was that if the phone, which she had for four years before swapping to a BlackBerry Z10 in July, was so insecure then the Chinese and the Russians were probably also listening in.

    It is highly likely as well, according to US intelligence sources, that officers at Britain’s surveillance agency GCHQ, along with French spies, were eavesdropping too.

    If the Nokia had been fitted with a conference call function, one former US official joked, then everyone could have joined in on an interesting discussion about just who was spying on whom.

    Ironically, the GSM phone network in Europe is so easy to penetrate largely because it was designed on the advice of continental spy agencies eager to monitor conversations.

    The NSA was so concerned about President Barack Obama’s commercial BlackBerry when he took office in 2009 that it persuaded him to use a secure one at a cost of $US14,000.

    Obama may lose even that if Lenovo, the Chinese-owned computer company, buys the BlackBerry brand from its Canadian owner. In 2008 the Obama campaign website was hacked by the Chinese for information about his donors.

    “The dilemma here is it’s so easy to do this that there’s an embarrassment of riches,” says James Lewis, a former State Department official and cybersecurity specialist at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The only problem is resources. There aren’t that many people at NSA.” The NSA’s monitoring of Merkel’s phone, he says, was likely to have been sporadic and for a specific reason, such as an approaching summit.

    American and French intelligence chiefs signed an agreement in 1988 not to steal each other’s commercial secrets, but both sides appear to ignore it. Tales abound of French agents slipping into Parisian hotel rooms in the 1990s to search through the briefcases of visiting businessmen.

    Sarkozy had no doubts that he was being spied on. Counter-measures recommended by his security team had included a mobile phone supposed to be safe from eavesdropping. But he did not use it because it took 30 seconds to get a dial tone.

    In a further apparent sign of Hollande’s hypocrisy, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor, France shares information with the US and Britain under a program codenamed Lustre, the German media reports. So do Israel, Sweden and Italy.

    Last week, the German newspaper Bild claimed the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), the German equivalent of Britain’s MI6, monitored telephone calls as well as text messages and emails in the US. The BND told Bild: “We take what we can get. If someone offers us information, for instance, about the Americans, we will not throw it in the bin.”

    Lewis accepts that Snowden’s leaks, which he believes were calculated to portray America as engaging in “uniquely evil activity”, have badly damaged relations with Germany.

    The “Five Eyes” agreement, which began with Britain and the US agreeing not to spy on each other and was later extended to Canada, Australia and New Zealand, regulates spying among the leading English-speaking nations, but there is no such deal with Germany. Now, Lewis says, there may have to be “some kind of common understandings and maybe constraints, maybe a degree of transparency” in order to mollify the Germans.

    For now the US administration seems unrepentant.

    “People at a senior level are still in the mode of, ‘Well, everybody spies and no one should be surprised and it’s our right to do this and if we’re quiet maybe this will go away’. They have not yet realised the scope of the damage,” Lewis says.

    German indignation, driven by public opinion, could endanger trade talks, hamper the effort to formulate better rules for cybersecurity and even affect US companies doing business in Germany. Most serious would be a decision by the Germans to scale back on sharing counter-terrorism intelligence. Senior NSA officials have contemplated going public with details of German and French spying on the US, but have been dissuaded for now.

    “If the uproar continues, people will be made to realise just how pervasive surveillance is by at least a dozen countries,” Lewis says.

    Spy Fight! Spy Fight! Spy Fight!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 29, 2013, 8:38 pm
  4. It’s worth pointing out that Merkel’s cell phone the NSA was reportedly tapping was a CDU-party phone that she claims to have never used for official business. All important calls used special encrypted phones…presumably because the German government isn’t entirely clueless and recognized that major world leaders probably shouldn’t be using unsecure phones for important conversations

    Deutsche Welle
    Berlin declares Merkel’s state calls ‘safe’ from NSA spying

    Berlin has declared Chancellor Angela Merkel’s communications as “absolutely safe” despite claims that US intelligence tapped her mobile phone. Media speculation focuses on the US embassy’s proximity to Merkel’s office.
    Date 25.10.2013

    Deputy German government spokesman Georg Streiter said Friday in Berlin that Merkel conducted her important “state-political” conversations on encrypted fixed-circuit phone lines. If necessary, she also resorted to a specially-protected mobile phone.

    Merkel, like every citizen, had, however, the right to communicate “freely and unencumbered,” Streiter said, adding that the government had no indications that electronic eavesdropping had been done from the US embassy.

    The alleged spying on Merkel, made public late on Wednesday by her main spokesman Steffen Seibert, has been condemned by a cross-section of German legislators and media.

    Listening post?

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) newspaper claimed on Friday that the US embassy – opened in 2008 next to Brandenburg Gate and less that a kilometer from the chancellery – housed a listening post of the US’ Special Collection Service.

    Streiter said Berlin had no such knowledge of this but added that ties with the US had reached a status that “could not continue.” New trust had to be established, he said.

    Germany, Brazil spying resolution

    The German and Brazilian governments are expected as early as next week to introduce a United Nations resolution highlighting the international uproar over US spying allegations and boosting online privacy rights, diplomatic sources told the DPA and AFP news agencies.

    Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff had already called for UN action last month in protecting online data after allegations the NSA had spied on her office’s communications.

    Separated usages

    The news agency Reuters quoted Merkel early Friday while still at an EU summit in Brussels as saying that the mobile phone in question was operated on an account held by her Christian Democrat Union (CDU) party.

    She differentiated in her usage between party-political and government transactions, she said, to maintain a “consistent logic in my calls.”

    “For all other state-political relevant communications there are fixed network lines, “crypto-lines” and when one is not at home “crypto-cell phones,” she said.

    So perhaps one of the reasons these NSA cellphone hacks are said to have yielded “little reportable intelligence” is because governments know that important officials shouldn’t be saying important things on unsecure phones and behaved accordingly.

    This also raises a question that applies to many of these spying revelations: If the NSA was spying on Merkel’s unencrypted cell phones, just how many other intelligence agencies were listening in on exactly the same conversations? Is there even an guestimate available for something like that? Like “probably at least three or four agencies but not more than a dozen”, or something like that? Hopefully we’ll get more info on questions like that as the NSA scandal continues because it will be a real shame if all the people that were apparently totally unaware of NSA spying end up, months or years from now, thinking that it’s only the NSA spying on them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 30, 2013, 2:58 pm
  5. Is Snowden going to testify in Germany’s investigation of the Merkel wiretapping? It sure looks like it:

    German MP meets Snowden, says he is willing to come to Germany for inquiry

    By Alexandra Hudson

    BERLIN | Thu Oct 31, 2013 6:19pm EDT

    (Reuters) – A German lawmaker said he met Edward Snowden in Moscow on Thursday and the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor was willing to come to Germany to assist investigations into alleged U.S. surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    Hans-Christian Stroebele, a legislator for the opposition Greens party, told German broadcaster ARD it was clear Snowden “knew a lot” and that he would share details of their surprise meeting including a letter from Snowden addressed to the German government and chief federal prosecutor on Friday.

    Stroebele, a well-known maverick in German politics, tweeted a photograph of himself and Snowden and ARD showed images of the two shaking hands in a room before their three-hour meeting.

    “He made it clear he knows a lot and that as long as the National Security Agency (NSA) blocks investigations…, he is prepared to come to Germany and give testimony, but the conditions must be discussed,” said Stroebele.

    His trip came a day after top American and German security officials met in Washington to try and ease tensions caused by reports that NSA, for which Snowden worked, monitored Merkel’s mobile phone. Germany is a close ally of the United States.

    Stroebele, 74, sits on the German parliament’s control committee, which monitors the work of intelligence agencies.

    Germany’s parliament will hold a special session on November 18 to discuss the tapping, and the Greens and far-left Left party have demanded a public inquiry calling in witnesses including Snowden. Stroebele told him he could give evidence from Moscow.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected U.S. pleas to send Snowden home to face charges including espionage, instead granting him a temporary asylum in early August which can be extended annually.

    However, Putin, a former KGB spy, has said repeatedly that Russia would shelter Snowden only if he stopped harming the United States. That could make it difficult for Snowden to speak to any German parliamentary inquiry.

    Gregor Gysi, parliamentary leader of the Left, has said Germany should include Snowden in its witness protection scheme so he could speak before the committee.

    Germany’s government was one of many that rejected an asylum request from Snowden earlier this year.

    A Russian lawyer helping Snowden said earlier on Thursday that under current agreements Snowden cannot reveal secret information while he is in Russia. Snowden’s location in Russia has not been disclosed and since July he has appeared only in a handful of photographs and video clips.

    Thursday’s encounter was Snowden’s first known meeting with a foreign politician, and his first known meeting with any specific foreigner other than his father and a group of former U.S. national security officials he met in early October.

    Stroebele, a distinctive figure in Germany with his shock of white hair, bright red scarf and common touch, is a lawyer by training and once defended members of Germany’s far-left Baader-Meinhof gang that emerged from the student protest and anti-Vietnam war movements in West Germany in the 1960s.

    How exactly Snowden is going to participate in a German “witness protection scheme” while residing in Russia isn’t exactly clear, so who knows what will come of this. But note that Stroebele, a member of the committee overseeing intelligence agencies, has in the past referred to the monitoring of German intelligence agencies as “purely theoretic”. So even if Snowden can’t make a remote appearance at the investigations there should still be plenty to talk about:

    Der Spiegel
    ‘Key Partners’: Secret Links Between Germany and the NSA
    July 22, 2013 – 12:19 PM
    BY RENÉ PFISTER, LAURA POITRAS, MARCEL ROSENBACH, JÖRG SCHINDLER and HOLGER STARK

    It was a busy two days for the surveillance specialists of the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. At the end of April, a team of 12 senior BND officials flew to the United States, where they visited the heart of the global American surveillance empire: the National Security Agency (NSA). The purpose of their mission can be read in a “top secret” NSA document which SPIEGEL has seen — one of the trove of files in the possession of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    According to the document, BND President Gerhard Schindler repeatedly expressed an “eagerness” to cooperate more closely with the NSA. The Germans, the document reads, were looking for “guidance and advice.”

    But Merkel claims that she knew nothing about the Americans’ surveillance software. “I became aware of programs like Prism through current news reports,” she told the left-leaning weekly newspaper Die Zeit last week. According to Merkel’s staff, when she uses such language, she is relying on statements made by the German intelligence chiefs.

    But what does that mean? Does the German government still have its intelligence agencies under control? Or have they become a kind of state-within-a-state?

    And who exactly keeps track of whether the agencies, in their zeal to enforce the “Supergrundrecht” of security, haven’t already gone too far?

    The place where the activities of domestic and foreign intelligence agencies ought to be debated is the Parliamentary Control Panel in the German Bundestag. By law, the government is required to regularly and “comprehensively” inform the 11 members of the board, which meets in secret, about the work of the BND and the BfV, and explain “procedures with special importance.”

    Oddly enough, the board has met four times since the beginning of the NSA scandal, and, four times, lawmakers have learned little about the global data surveillance programs. Instead, they were forced to listen to long-winded lectures by those responsible, the essence of which generally was: We really don’t know anything.

    Spotlight on Merkel

    Over the years, the board has mutated into a stage for large egos and is no longer particularly secret. The problem is that many panel members don’t have sufficient time or expertise to truly understand the kind of activities the intelligence agencies are engaged in. It is a perfect situation for Germany’s spies: The less the public learns about their activities, the more they can go about their business undisturbed.

    “Monitoring of the agencies is purely theoretical,” says Hans-Christian Ströbele, the Green Party representative on the board. “We don’t learn about the truly explosive issues until they’ve been exposed by the media.” This isn’t surprising, given the vagueness of statutory provisions on the supervision of intelligence agencies.

    The agencies enjoy “complete freedom,” says attorney Wolfgang Neškovi, who once spent many years on the control board for the Left Party. The CDU, its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) have now agreed to establish an intelligence body to monitor the intelligence agencies. But in light of recent events, CDU domestic policy expert Clemens Binninger believes that a “major solution” is needed. He favors the idea of a parliamentary intelligence official, to be provided with his own powers and staff.

    There is also growing mistrust of the intelligence agencies within Merkel’s government, a situation which led to a memorable scene in the federal press conference last Wednesday. According to a NATO document that had been circulated before the press conference, the German military was indeed aware of the existence of Prism. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert stated that it was the BND’s assessment that the program in question had nothing to do with NSA spy software. But he made sure to keep a distance from the intelligence agency’s assessment. Later, the Defense Ministry issued a statement of its own which directly contradicted the BND statement.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2013, 2:50 pm
  6. PTERRAFRACTYL and Dave, the stories circulating around this evening are saying that Snowden may be seeking asylum in Germany.

    Posted by Bob Miller | October 31, 2013, 5:28 pm
  7. Spy Fight!

    U.S. spy agency’s defense: Europeans did it too

    By Tabassum Zakaria and Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON | Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:53pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The political uproar over alleged U.S. eavesdropping on close European allies has produced an unusual defense from the National Security Agency: NSA says it was the Europeans themselves who did the spying, and then handed data to the Americans.

    It is rare for intelligence officials to speak in any public detail about liaison arrangements with foreign spy agencies because such relationships are so sensitive. Even more unusual is for the United States to point fingers at partners.

    But that is what NSA Director General Keith Alexander did at a public congressional hearing on Tuesday when, attempting to counter international complaints about the agency’s alleged excesses, he said its sources for foreign telecommunications information included “data provided to NSA by foreign partners.”

    Alexander’s disclosure marked yet another milestone in NSA’s emergence from the shadows to defend its electronic surveillance mission in the wake of damaging revelations by former agency contractor Edward Snowden.

    “It is true that in general we stay close-mouthed about intelligence liaison relationships and we only speak in the most general terms about sharing things with our friends and allies,” said Paul Pillar, a former senior CIA analyst.

    But, he said, there was nothing wrong in correcting information that was out in public, even though Alexander probably “created or exacerbated some political problems” for a number of European allies with his comments.

    Given the hypocrisy being exhibited by the Europeans in saying they are ‘shocked, shocked’ that these sorts of things go on – allies spying on allies – I don’t think we should feel much compunction about having them feel a little bit of domestic political heat if that is necessary to set the story straight in one of our own congressional hearings,” Pillar said.

    One U.S. official said that before going public with the revelation that telecommunications metadata was collected and supplied to the United States by foreign governments like France and Spain, the Obama administration consulted with the governments concerned. The official spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Metadata refers to information about a phone call or email – the length of a call and the number dialed, for example – that does not include the communication’s actual content.

    A second U.S. official said that, regardless of foreign governments’ reactions, some Obama administration officials wanted to make the information public anyway because they were disappointed at how allies were willing to let Washington take the heat for surveillance activities in which they themselves were partners.

    INTERNATIONAL TURN

    Reports that the United States was eavesdropping on the phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and spying on the leaders and citizens of some of its closest European allies – Germany, France, and Spain – drew harsh criticism across Europe.

    Mike McConnell, a former NSA director, said at a Bloomberg Government conference on Wednesday that Merkel should not have been surprised about alleged U.S. eavesdropping on her cellphone because world leaders are prime targets for such spying.

    “The number one target on the globe is the president of the United States. By everyone,” he said. “All nation states do this.”

    Pillar said this cuts both ways: during the recent U.S. government shutdown, European allies were probably scrambling to get as much intelligence as possible about the state of play in Washington, he said.

    MISINTERPRETATION?

    European media have pointed to an NSA slide published by France’s Le Monde newspaper as showing that the United States was collecting bulk telephone data on millions of European citizens. But U.S. officials say that slide was misinterpreted.

    A U.S. national security official said that the slide actually referred to a program under which French authorities supplied to U.S. intelligence agencies large amounts of raw telephone call data.

    That data related to communications transmitted outside France but that passed through telecoms systems or switches to which France had direct, or at least readier, access than NSA itself.

    The official indicated that this same scenario applied to allegations regarding the NSA collection of large amounts of metadata in Spain.

    Another U.S. official familiar with NSA programs said that the metadata collection was inaccurately characterized in French and Spanish media reports.

    It was collected by those governments themselves and turned over to the United States, and the collection was conducted on targets outside of their countries in war zones or countries that are major targets for Western counter-terrorism operations, the official said.

    Some of that information, one U.S. official said, helped in investigating at least three counter-terrorism cases in which leads emerged that proved to be productive.

    There is “nothing scandalous” about such cooperative joint collection, the official insisted.

    Spy fight! And if the comments earlier this week by European Union Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding are an indicator of what’s to come, this could get really serious. She publicly speculated that “maybe it has to do with getting commercial secrets to be sucked out”. So this could be getting nasty:

    CBS News/ October 29, 2013, 8:09 PM

    EU official alleges NSA sought economic edge for U.S.
    By Margaret Brennan

    After two days of meetings in Washington — including with the NSA chief — European lawmakers said that President Obama must rein in surveillance.

    European Union Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding told CBS News that any surveillance without court approval would be criminal.

    “Services are not on their own,” she said. “They are based on laws which come from politicians and politicians should go back to control.”

    But neither Reding nor European lawmakers were able to say whether their intelligence agencies willingly gave the information to the NSA. German parliamentarian Elmar Brok said the U.S. operation to bug Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone crossed the line.

    “It’s very clear that the telephone of number of Mrs. Merkel was found in American files — espionage files that’s the case and that’s a fact,” Brok said. “And if it comes there via Spain or France, it’s a different story and that is also not in order.”

    European lawmakers are also accusing the U.S. of probing financial transactions and Reding questioned whether the U.S. used security as an excuse to gain an economic upper-hand.

    “Why are you sucking up information and why are you listening to the phone of a head of state, head of government?” she asked. “Why you listen to the phone of millions of innocent Europeans? This has nothing to do with fighting terrorism. Maybe it has to do with getting commercial secrets to be sucked out.

    Reding will meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in two weeks. On Tuesday, the State Department said more countries requested information about U.S. surveillance including: the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Colombia, Peru, Brazil, South Korea and India.

    It was always important that we gain additional insights into the structure of the larger international spying network if we ever want have a real shot at ending a global mass-surveillance regime. But with Viviane Reding joining Brazil’s president in suggesting that the NSA’s spying maybe “has to do with getting commercial secrets to be sucked out”, it’s even more important now to understand whether or not the NSA’s domestic spying in the EU is a solo/’Five Eyes’ project or part of the standard intelligence-sharing operations that EU spy agencies were well aware of and/or participating in with their five-eyed spying partner.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2013, 11:38 pm
  8. @Bob:
    Yep, following yesterday’s stories about Stoebele’s secret meeting with Snowden, we now have Merkel’s Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich musing about the possibility of Snowden testifying after Snowden wrote an open letter to the German officials asking for help and making himself available for future testimonies. But it could be complicated since Snowden can’t leave Russia without risking his temporary asylum status and he also can’t easily testify from Russia without violating the “no more harm to the US” rule that Putin laid down for the temporary asylum.

    One possibility mentioned in the article below is if Germany grants him a visa and then protects him from extradition to the US. So asylum in Germany is apparently one of the options on the table, although Stroebele says Snowden isn’t interested in risking that since it could result in an extradition. So a very strange set of negotiations appears to be taking place:

    Bloomberg
    Snowden Weighs Testifying in Germany on NSA
    By Patrick Donahue November 01, 2013

    Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden offered to testify to German authorities about the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance after meeting a Green Party lawmaker in Moscow.

    Hans-Christian Stroebele presented a letter attributed to Snowden in which the fugitive accuses the U.S. government of “systemic” crimes and said he faces a “severe and sustained campaign of persecution” for disclosing intelligence secrets. Snowden would be ready to travel to give testimony if he could remain safely in Germany, Stroebele said in Berlin today.

    “I hope that when the difficulties of this humanitarian situation have been resolved, I will be able to cooperate in the responsible finding of fact” in an investigation, Snowden wrote in the letter signed by himself and Stroebele. The lawmaker posted photos with Snowden on his website.

    Revelations last week that the NSA may have tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone and anger at U.S. surveillance have prompted German lawmakers to call for a parliamentary investigation. Merkel dispatched a team of intelligence officials to the White House this week to “rebuild trust” after she spoke with President Barack Obama on Oct. 23 to vent her criticism.

    While German authorities would be open to listening to what Snowden has to say, any invitation to testify would have to come from lawmakers or prosecutors, government spokesman Steffen Seibert said today. It’s possible for Snowden, 30, to speak with authorities outside Germany, though Snowden said he opposes such a prospect, according to Stroebele, whose party isn’t in Merkel’s government.

    ’Great Crimes’

    “We will find possibilities, if Mr. Snowden is prepared to, to speak with German authorities,” Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told reporters today.

    More than cooperating with German authorities, Snowden would prefer to testify before the U.S. Congress to expose “not only aberrations, but in some cases great crimes,” Stroebele said.

    “Snowden didn’t strike me as being anti-American at all, but rather the complete opposite,” he told reporters in Berlin today at a briefing at which he distributed the letter.

    Snowden’s lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, reiterated yesterday that leaving Russian territory would end his refugee status, according to the Interfax news agency.
    Open Letter

    Stroebele said he sent the letter to Merkel’s government, to the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, and to the federal prosecutor. The letter isn’t addressed to any of those institutions and doesn’t specifically name Germany.

    “He’s prepared to speak,” Stroebele said. The lawmaker said Snowden’s technical expertise will help untangle the trove of NSA documents released to media organizations this year.

    Snowden’s one-year asylum visa, which the Russian government granted him on Aug. 1, has sparked a rift between the Cold War foes and prompted Obama to cancel a planned summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

    No Asylum

    The former contractor, who currently has no passport, could receive free passage in Germany and protection from extradition to the U.S. if Merkel’s government granted him a visa, ARD television said, citing an assessment of the research office of the German lower house of parliament, or Bundestag.

    Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, said the government still sees no basis for the American to apply for political asylum in Germany, a process that would require him first to enter the country. Stroebele said Snowden currently won’t risk doing that.

    The Green legislator traveled to Moscow with two German ARD reporters. The three were picked up at a hotel in central Moscow and driven to an undisclosed location, where they found Snowden healthy and in “good spirits.”

    “He’s able-bodied but also committed and beyond all else, when it comes to his campaign of disclosure, he’s very, very serious and poised,” Stroebele said. “He mentioned repeatedly what a huge risk he took.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 1, 2013, 11:14 am
  9. There’s a useful pair of new reports out of the Guardian that highlights the global, cooperative nature of modern mass-surveillance: There aren’t just 5-Eyes. There’s also the 9-Eyes, the 14-Eyes, and even the 41-Eyes. The global surveillance state is like the proverbial fly on the wall in more ways than one:

    Portrait of the NSA: no detail too small in quest for total surveillance

    The NSA gathers intelligence to keep America safe. But leaked documents reveal the NSA’s dark side – and show an agency intent on exploiting the digital revolution to the full

    Ewen MacAskill and James Ball
    theguardian.com, Saturday 2 November 2013 12.13 EDT

    Barack Obama hailed United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-moon as a “good friend” after the two had sat down in the White House in April to discuss the issues of the day: Syria and alleged chemical weapons attacks, North Korea, Israel-Palestine, and climate change.

    But long before Ban’s limousine had even passed through the White House gates for the meeting, the US government knew what the secretary general was going to talk about, courtesy of the world’s biggest eavesdropping organisation, the National Security Agency.

    One NSA document – leaked to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden just a month after the meeting and reported in partnership with the New York Times – boasts how the spy agency had gained “access to UN secretary general talking points prior to meeting with Potus” (president of the United States). The White House declined to comment on whether Obama had read the talking points in advance of the meeting.

    Spying on Ban and others at the UN is in contravention of international law, and the US, forced on the defensive this week over the Snowden leaks about worldwide snooping, ordered an end to surveillance of the organization, according to Reuters.

    That the US spied on Ban is no great surprise. What is a revealing is that the disclosure is listed in the NSA’s ‘top-secret’ weekly report from around the world as an “operational highlight”.

    It sits incongruously alongside other “operational highlights” from that week: details of an alleged Iranian chemical weapons program; communications relating to an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria and a report about the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas.

    Bracketing the benign, US-friendly Ban alongside drug traffickers and weapons in the Middle East and Central Asia points to a spy agency that has lost its sense of proportion.

    The incident is consistent with the portrait of the NSA that emerges from the tens of thousands of documents leaked by Snowden. Page after page shows the NSA engaged in the kind of intelligence-gathering it would be expected to carry out: eavesdropping on Taliban insurgents planning attacks in remote Afghanistan valleys, or listening in on hostage-takers in Colombia.

    But the documents reveal, too, the darker side of the NSA. It is indiscriminate in the information it is collecting. Nothing appears to be too small for the NSA. Nothing too trivial. Rivals, enemies, allies and friends – US citizens and ‘non-Americans’ – are all scooped up.

    The documents show the NSA, intent on exploiting the communications revolution to the full, developing ever more intrusive programmes in pursuit of its ambition to have surveillance cover of the whole planet: total command of what the NSA refers to as the ‘digital battlefield’.

    It has large posts in the UK, Australia and Japan, but also operates elsewhere, sometimes covertly. In one country, Americans are secretly present at a base where exposure of their presence would provoke a major diplomatic incident, as it is in breach of an international treaty signed by the NSA’s host nation. Agency staff visiting the base have to hide their real identities, posing as contractors working on communications equipment and carrying fake business cards to back up their story.

    A PowerPoint briefing warns staff heading to this secret base: “Know your cover legend”. It urges them to “sanitize personal effects” and to send no postcards home. Nor should they take souvenirs home with them. The NSA briefing makes an exception for jewellery, because “most jewellery does not have markings identifying it” as coming from that country.

    The NSA refers to the people it serves as “external customers”: the White House, the State Department, the CIA, the US mission to the UN, the Defense Intelligence Agency and others.

    One of the biggest criticisms of bulk data collection is that the agency cannot look at, let alone analyse, all the data it is collecting. One document echoed the problems the agency faced in 2001 when it lamented the lack of linguists pre-9/11. An officer, after checking some messages that might have been from a terrorist group, admitted: “Most of it is in Arabic or Farsi, so I can’t make much of it.”

    The 5-Eyes

    The NSA operates in close co-operation with four other English-speaking countries – the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – sharing raw intelligence, funding, technical systems and personnel. Their top level collective is known as the ‘5-Eyes’.

    Beyond that, the NSA has other coalitions, although intelligence-sharing is more restricted for the additional partners: the 9-Eyes, which adds Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway; the 14-Eyes, including Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden; and 41-Eyes, adding in others in the allied coalition in Afghanistan.

    The exclusivity of the various coalitions grates with some, such as Germany, which is using the present controversy to seek an upgrade. Germany has long protested at its exclusion, not just from the elite 5-Eyes but even from 9-Eyes. Minutes from the UK intelligence agency GCHQ note: “The NSA’s relationship with the French was not as advanced as GCHQ’s … the Germans were a little grumpy at not being invited to join the 9-Eyes group”.

    Significantly, amid the German protestations of outrage over US eavesdropping on Merkel and other Germans, Berlin is using the controversy as leverage for an upgrade to 5-Eyes.

    So if the 5-Eyes become 7-Eyes after Germany and France get ‘upgraded’, are Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Sweden also getting an upgrade? What’s the time-frame for something like that and how is it going to impact global mass-surveillance?

    GCHQ and European spy agencies worked together on mass surveillance

    Edward Snowden papers unmask close technical cooperation and loose alliance between British, German, French, Spanish and Swedish spy agencies

    Julian Borger
    The Guardian, Friday 1 November 2013 13.02 EDT

    The German, French, Spanish and Swedish intelligence services have all developed methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic over the past five years in close partnership with Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency.

    The bulk monitoring is carried out through direct taps into fibre optic cables and the development of covert relationships with telecommunications companies. A loose but growing eavesdropping alliance has allowed intelligence agencies from one country to cultivate ties with corporations from another to facilitate the trawling of the web, according to GCHQ documents leaked by the former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

    The files also make clear that GCHQ played a leading role in advising its European counterparts how to work around national laws intended to restrict the surveillance power of intelligence agencies.

    The German, French and Spanish governments have reacted angrily to reports based on National Security Agency (NSA) files leaked by Snowden since June, revealing the interception of communications by tens of millions of their citizens each month. US intelligence officials have insisted the mass monitoring was carried out by the security agencies in the countries involved and shared with the US.

    The US director of national intelligence, James Clapper, suggested to Congress on Tuesday that European governments’ professed outrage at the reports was at least partly hypocritical. “Some of this reminds me of the classic movie Casablanca: ‘My God, there’s gambling going on here,’ ” he said.

    Sweden, which passed a law in 2008 allowing its intelligence agency to monitor cross-border email and phone communications without a court order, has been relatively muted in its response.

    The German government, however, has expressed disbelief and fury at the revelations from the Snowden documents, including the fact that the NSA monitored Angela Merkel’s mobile phone calls.

    After the Guardian revealed the existence of GCHQ’s Tempora programme, in which the electronic intelligence agency tapped directly into the transatlantic fibre optic cables to carry out bulk surveillance, the German justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said it sounded “like a Hollywood nightmare”, and warned the UK government that free and democratic societies could not flourish when states shielded their actions in “a veil of secrecy”.

    ‘Huge potential’

    However, in a country-by-country survey of its European partners, GCHQ officials expressed admiration for the technical capabilities of German intelligence to do the same thing. The survey in 2008, when Tempora was being tested, said the Federal Intelligence Service (BND), had “huge technological potential and good access to the heart of the internet – they are already seeing some bearers running at 40Gbps and 100Gbps”.

    Bearers is the GCHQ term for the fibre optic cables, and gigabits per second (Gbps) measures the speed at which data runs through them. Four years after that report, GCHQ was still only able to monitor 10 Gbps cables, but looked forward to tap new 100 Gbps bearers eventually. Hence the admiration for the BND.

    The document also makes clear that British intelligence agencies were helping their German counterparts change or bypass laws that restricted their ability to use their advanced surveillance technology. “We have been assisting the BND (along with SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] and Security Service) in making the case for reform or reinterpretation of the very restrictive interception legislation in Germany,” it says.

    The country-by-country survey, which in places reads somewhat like a school report, also hands out high marks to the GCHQ’s French partner, the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE). But in this case it is suggested that the DGSE’s comparative advantage is its relationship with an unnamed telecommunications company, a relationship GCHQ hoped to leverage for its own operations.

    “DGSE are a highly motivated, technically competent partner, who have shown great willingness to engage on IP [internet protocol] issues, and to work with GCHQ on a “cooperate and share” basis.”

    “Very friendly crypt meeting with DGSE in July,” British officials reported. The French were “clearly very keen to provide presentations on their work which included cipher detection in high-speed bearers. [GCHQ’s] challenge is to ensure that we have enough UK capability to support a longer term crypt relationship.”

    Fresh opportunities

    In the case of the Spanish intelligence agency, the National Intelligence Centre (CNI), the key to mass internet surveillance, at least back in 2008, was the Spaniards’ ties to a British telecommunications company (again unnamed. Corporate relations are among the most strictly guarded secrets in the intelligence community). That was giving them “fresh opportunities and uncovering some surprising results.

    “GCHQ has not yet engaged with CNI formally on IP exploitation, but the CNI have been making great strides through their relationship with a UK commercial partner. GCHQ and the commercial partner have been able to coordinate their approach. The commercial partner has provided the CNI some equipment whilst keeping us informed, enabling us to invite the CNI across for IP-focused discussions this autumn,” the report said. It concluded that GCHQ “have found a very capable counterpart in CNI, particularly in the field of Covert Internet Ops”.

    GCHQ was clearly delighted in 2008 when the Swedish parliament passed a bitterly contested law allowing the country’s National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) to conduct Tempora-like operations on fibre optic cables. The British agency also claimed some credit for the success.

    GCHQ also maintains strong relations with the two main Dutch intelligence agencies, the external MIVD and the internal security service, the AIVD.

    “Both agencies are small, by UK standards, but are technically competent and highly motivated,” British officials reported. Once again, GCHQ was on hand in 2008 for help in dealing with legal constraints. “The AIVD have just completed a review of how they intend to tackle the challenges posed by the internet – GCHQ has provided input and advice to this report,” the country assessment said.

    “The Dutch have some legislative issues that they need to work through before their legal environment would allow them to operate in the way that GCHQ does. We are providing legal advice on how we have tackled some of these issues to Dutch lawyers.”

    It is clear from the Snowden documents that GCHQ has become Europe’s intelligence hub in the internet age, and not just because of its success in creating a legally permissive environment for its operations. Britain’s location as the European gateway for many transatlantic cables, and its privileged relationship with the NSA has made GCHQ an essential partner for European agencies. The documents show British officials frequently lobbying the NSA on sharing of data with the Europeans and haggling over its security classification so it can be more widely disseminated. In the intelligence world, far more than it managed in diplomacy, Britain has made itself an indispensable bridge between America and Europe’s spies.

    Note that the BND is already denying that is was working with GCHQ to dilute spying legal restrictions, so this latest round of spy fighting might just be getting started:

    UPDATE 2-Europe’s spies work together on mass surveillance – Guardian

    Sun Nov 3, 2013 12:10am IST

    * Guardian cites documents leaked by Edward Snowden

    * Report embarrassing for European critics of NSA

    * German agency denies circumventing laws (Adds German reaction)

    By Estelle Shirbon

    LONDON, Nov 2 (Reuters) – Spy agencies across Western Europe are working together on mass surveillance of Internet and phone traffic comparable to programmes run by their U.S. counterpart denounced by European governments, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

    Citing documents leaked by fugitive former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the Guardian said methods included tapping into fibre optic cables and working covertly with private telecommunications companies.

    Snowden has written an open letter to Merkel and other German authorities to say he is counting on international support to stop Washington’s “persecution” of him.

    Germany’s BND federal intelligence service said there had been considerations in 2008 about merging German security services’ surveillance of telecommunications, which would have required changes to telecommunication and security laws.

    It said it had exchanged experiences with the British services on this in 2008 but these discussions had focussed on technical rather than legal issues. The BND added that it regularly held such exchanges on technical developments with other European services.

    “It is incorrect that Germany’s BND federal intelligence service tried to circumvent legal restrictions to be able to implement British acquisition technology. On this point too the BND complied with the law,” a BND spokesman said.

    The Guardian said GCHQ files leaked by Snowden showed the British agency taking credit for advising European counterparts on how to get around domestic laws intended to restrict their surveillance powers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 2, 2013, 6:21 pm
  10. It sounds like the German Parliament has ruled out the idea of Edward Snowden traveling to Germany, but a remote interrogation from Moscow is still a possibility. A ‘no spy (on governments)’ pact is also possible by mid-December. So lot’s of big moves are still to be decided upon:

    Deutsche Welle
    No interrogation of Snowden in Germany for now, parliamentary panel says

    A parliamentary committee has announced that bringing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Germany for questioning is not yet on the cards. But the option of interrogating him in Moscow is still open.
    Date 06.11.2013

    Speaking after a special meeting of the Parliamentary Control Panel on Wednesday, Chairman Thomas Oppermann said the body would not try to interrogate Snowden in Germany for the time being.

    “An interrogation in Germany is currently not being discussed,” Oppermann said.

    He said, however, that the panel would ask the German government to examine whether Snowden could be questioned in Russia.

    Oppermann said it had first to be ensured that it would not cause “difficulties” for Snowden if the interrogation took place there.

    The US whistleblower is currently residing in Moscow after being granted a year’s asylum by Russia.

    Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (pictured) said the German government would accede to the panel’s request.

    He also reiterated that Germany was not in a position to grant Snowden asylum.

    The meeting was also attended by Gerhard Schindler, the head of Germany’s BND intelligence service, and Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

    They reported to the panel on talks held in Washington over the past days with US intelligence officials, partly about a proposed mutual “no-spy” agreement.

    ‘Restore lost trust’

    Ronald Pofalla, the head of the chancellery, said the planned agreement offered “a unique chance to regain the trust that had been lost,” adding that the German delegations in Washington had gained the impression that the White House had “fully recognized” the political dimension of the spying affair.

    Germany has expressed outrage after allegations, based on documents leaked by Snowden, that the US National Security Agency had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone.

    Pofalla said US President Barack Obama intended to inform the German government in mid-December about the results of the review he has ordered of the intelligence services. He added that cooperation between Germany and the US was to be placed on a “new basis” as part of the “no-spy” agreement.

    Oppermann demanded that the proposed agreement also offer protection against excessive surveillance to normal citizens, and not just the German government.

    Green politician Hans-Christian Ströbele, who visited Snowden in Moscow last Thursday, once more called on Germany to grant the whistleblower asylum. The government has repeatedly rejected such calls, saying that such a move would endanger the trans-Atlantic alliance with the US.

    While Snowden may not be traveling from Russia to Germany any time soon, it turns out that Sarah Harrison left Snowden’s side in Russia this weekend and has now joined the Berlin branch of Team Snowden:

    WikiLeaks Snowden staffer says unsafe to return to Britain

    (AFP) – 11/6/2013

    London — A WikiLeaks staffer who has been accompanying Edward Snowden said Wednesday she had left Russia for Germany, but the threat of prosecution made it unsafe for her to return home to Britain.

    In August, Sarah Harrison helped former US National Security Agency contractor Snowden flee Hong Kong to Russia, where he has now been granted temporary asylum from US authorities who want to prosecute him for leaking official secrets.

    In a statement datelined from Berlin and issued by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, Harrison said she had now left Snowden’s side and had “arrived in Germany over the weekend”.

    She said that after spending 39 days with Snowden in a Moscow airport while he sought asylum, “I then remained with him until our team was confident that he had established himself and was free from the interference of any government”.

    But she said the detention under British anti-terror laws of David Miranda — the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald who landed the scoop of the Snowden leaks — showed there was a climate of “persecution” in her own home country, Britain.

    “Almost every story published on the GCHQ and NSA bulk spying programs falls under the UK government’s interpretation of the word ‘terrorism’,” she wrote.

    “In response, our lawyers have advised me that it is not safe to return home.”

    British police held Miranda at London’s Heathrow Airport for nine hours on August 18 as he was in transit from Germany to Brazil for questioning about the leaks on the NSA and Britain’s electronic eavesdropping centre GCHQ.

    Harrison, believed to be 31, is one of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s closest aides.

    In her statement, Harrison said that “already, in the few days I have spent in Germany, it is heartening to see the people joining together and calling for their government to do what must be done ?- to investigate NSA spying revelations, and to offer Edward Snowden asylum”.

    “The United States should no longer be able to continue spying on every person around the globe, or persecuting those that speak the truth,” she wrote.

    Her choice of Berlin as a destination comes a day after Germany said it had asked to speak to Britain’s ambassador following a media report that London has been operating a secret listening post from its embassy in Berlin.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 6, 2013, 12:18 pm
  11. Negotiations over the US-German ‘no spy’ agreement appears to be nearing completion. The details are sparse, but it appears that the US will reiterate that it won’t engage in commercial espionage although it’s unclear if Germany has to promise the same in return. It’s also being characterized as a treaty that would simplify and strengthen – rather than restrict – cooperation between US spy agencies and the BND. Also, it doesn’t sound like other countries should expect a public ‘no commercial espionage’ agreement, especially France because they’re notorious for aggressive industrial espionage. So, basically, the new fangled ‘no spy’ agreement between the US and Germany does nothing other than issue a redundant ‘no commercial espionage’ agreement (it was already technically illegal), and increase cooperation between US intelligence and the BND. And there’s a nice big forced public “screw you” to France and the rest of the world. Sounds like a useful ‘no spy’ agreement:

    U.S., Germany discuss intelligence cooperation after Merkel affair

    By Mark Hosenball

    WASHINGTON Fri Nov 8, 2013 3:44pm EST

    (Reuters) – After disclosures that the U.S. National Security Agency tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, Washington and Berlin are discussing new rules to govern dealings between their spy agencies, U.S. and European officials said.

    Senior German officials, including the chiefs of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, and its domestic security agency, the BfV, met with Obama administration and U.S. intelligence officials last weekend to discuss how to reshape intelligence cooperation.

    Current and former U.S. officials familiar with U.S. spy programs say the United States is likely to be willing to agree to some kind of pledge – either public or private – that American agencies will not engage in industrial or commercial espionage against German targets.

    Such a promise would be an unusual step for the United States, but it would be easy for the Obama administration to make because current rules governing the National Security Agency and other U.S. spy agencies already prohibit spying for commercial benefit.

    Washington would be much less willing to give the same sort of pledge to other allies, most notably France, which have large state-owned industries and a reputation for aggressive official industrial espionage, U.S. and European officials said.

    The visit to Washington by the German officials followed revelations by German media, based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, that the NSA targeted Merkel’s phone for eavesdropping. U.S. officials did not deny the report but said any such spying has now ceased.

    A European official said Merkel was not particularly distressed at the revelations as she recognized her cellphone was an insecure means of communication and was careful and cryptic as to what she talked about on it.

    Nonetheless, the public and political uproar caused by the affair and by other German media revelations based on Snowden’s material – including alleged NSA spying on the United Nations and European Union – prompted German officials to seek urgent consultations with their American counterparts to review the rules for intelligence cooperation.

    U.S. and German officials are working on a secret agreement to govern day-to-day intelligence dealings between the two countries, a European official said.

    The secret agreement would be aimed at simplifying the relationship with Germany and strengthening rather than restricting cooperation between the two countries’ spy agencies, officials said.

    U.S. and German intelligence relations are currently run under a patchwork of agreements between individual U.S. spy agencies, such as the NSA, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, with the BND, or Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service, which incorporates the functions of a multiplicity of U.S. agencies.

    So it’s unclear what, if any, changes will take place as a result of the US-German ‘no spy’ pacts other than greater NSA/BND cooperation. And the NSA will now have to ask one of the other foreign intelligence agencies that was tapping Angela Merkel’s precious precious unsecure cellphone calls for that useless intel.

    But it’s also very unclear if this is all just a first step in a longer process of truly shifting the mass-surveillance responsibilities of the EU people away from the US and back onto the EU intelligence agencies. The US may have been NATO’s global spy-monger on behalf of the EU governments in the past, but that could change. And if the current public chatter is any indication of what to expect, it’s not inconceivable that, in a decade or so, an EU central intelligence agency will handle EU domestic surviellance and then act as a gate-keeper with the US, only passing along data deemed to be relevant to US interest. And much rejoicing will take place because mass-surveillance of the EU will be handled by the EU and the mass-surveillance by the EU intelligence agencies will be less-massive and with greater legal safeguards than the mass-surveillance by the NSA. We all trade in the NSA as global spy-monger for a global collection of better little Big Brothers that keep us safe while maintaining our privacy? At least that’s the plan, right?

    If so, one of the commonly heard explanation for the NSA’s vast overreach in the data-collection of average people really needs to be addressed from the context of a EU-run surveillance-state. It’s a two-pronged explanation:
    1. Much of the data-collection policy-making was done in a manner that gave elected officials plausible deniability, thereby shifting much of the actual policy decision-making to the officials running the spy agencies or other lower-level officials.
    2. The people running these policies have an intense fear of missing information that could prevent future terrorist attacks or some other disaster and this fear acted as a key motivator in the minds of the officials running these agencies for hoovering up as much information as possible. Fear of failure makes mission creep inevitable.

    Since a mass shake up in how global mass-surveillance is done (or, ideally, how global mass-survelliance is ended) we should probably keep those above two arguments in mind when thinking about how an EU-spy agency – or a South American spying alliance – might behave as part of the new kinder, gentler global Big Brother paradigm. Because even if those arguments were mostly BS in the context NSA overreach, they are also arguments that are always going to be potentially valid excuses for any spy agencies to over-spy on its populace, especially when the NSA doesn’t do the mass-spying on their behalf anymore. Even good-hearted spy-masters are going to be kind of freaked out about missing something that results in a mass catastrophe.

    There’s also the argument that mass-spying actually hurts attempts to thwart terrorism (by hiding the needle in ever larger haystacks) and that may be a valid argument today. But keep in mind that artifical intelligence and greater processing power allow the automation of mass data-analysis might solve the “needle in a haystack” problem and there really could be plenty of situations in the future where mass-surveillance could be legitimitely useful at preventing a disaster. In other words, the tecnnical failures of today’s global Big Brother network aren’t necessarily going to plague the Big Brothers a decade from now so the incentives for mass-surveillance might actually increase going forward.

    So, in a weird way, if we’re going to avoid seeing the little Big Brothers in the EU and elsewhere use those exact same excuses for mass-spying mission-creep in the future, humanity might have to defeat terrorism. No, not defeat terrorists, since that’s an impossibility. Instead, we’re all going to have to become much more accepting of the possibility of mass-casualty events and we’re going to have to become much more forgiving towards the being entrusted to protect the populace when an attack takes place. The saying “I’d rather risk a terrorist attack (or attack by an enemy nation) than live under a surveillance state” really needs to be taken to heart by the next generation around the globe if we’re going to have a chance of putting the mass-spy-genie back in the bottle. It’s an attitude that would also thwart temptations for goverments to use terrorists or false-flag/Gladio-style attacks for their own nefarious purposes. So, somewhat ironically, the best way to undermine Big Brother (both the benign and malicious kinds of Big Brother) is by taking a “you can try to terrorize us, ye ol’ terrorists, and maybe you’ll even kill some of us, but it won’t change a thing” attitude towards the extremists of the world. And the best way to defeat the terrorists and extremists is to tell Big Brother “we’re OK with some screw ups and missed opportunities. We accept this in advance. You can mess up. It’s ok, please don’t destroy our privacy on our behalf just to stop those loser terrorists. We accept that such violent maniacs exist and we won’t allow them to warp our societies”. These are attitudes that need to become part of the implied social contract between peoples and their governments and eachother. And the only real way to do that is through broad international discourse about how we really are willing to accept elevated risks of mass attacks and that there really is an expectation that the people entrusted to stop suck attacks will miss some opportunities to stop them as a consequence of our desire to maintain our privacy.

    In other words, publicly and preemptively forgiving Big Brothers for failing to do in the future the useful things a Big Brother can do in exchange for our privacy might be one of the best ways to turn Big Brother into Little Brother. It would be a strange international conversation to have given the circumstances but it could be worth it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 9, 2013, 7:30 pm
  12. Deutsche Telekom couldn’t have asked for a better ad campaign for its brand new line of anti-NSA cellphones: Get ready for the new Merkelphone. It’s a specialized version of the Samsumg Galaxy S III for only 1,700 euro! The whole system is sort of like a cellphone version of wall-off internet Deutsche Telekom wants to develop. As long as both parties are using the “SimKo” system the communications should in theory be secure. Anti-NSA secure. The phone’s L4 microkernel is made by Berlin-based Trust2Core, a startup owned by Deutsche Telekom, although governments are allowed to manufacture their own chips if they don’t trust their encryption keys with a firm beholden to the BND. So, for any governments that feel like turning their intragovernmental communications into a closed network managed by Deutsche Telekom some exciting new products are hitting the markets:

    How Deutsche Telekom aims to turn mobile phones into Fort Knox
    Rows over tapping of Angela Merkels’ phone in Germany have led to super-secure phones – but who will buy them?

    Michael Scaturro
    theguardian.com, Tuesday 26 November 2013 07.34 EST

    When we met at Deutsche Telekom’s main office in Berlin, Michael Bartsch could barely contain his excitement over the company’s newest mobile phone.

    “We can’t say which countries we’ve been contacted by,” the 40-something executive who is head of mobile security for the telecom company, said. “But security people from embassies have called us asking for devices to test out. In fact, we’ve been getting calls from everyone, even from outside the EU.”

    On the mahogany conference table in front of Bartsch lay a panoply of the smartphones he uses, modifies, and ultimately tries to market: an iPhone 5s, a Blackberry Z10, and what looked, to the casual observer, like last year’s Samsung Galaxy S3.

    But, in fact, the unassuming Galaxy was actually a Samsung device running the Korean company’s secure Knox version of Android, which Telekom has modified with its own security software, called SimKo.

    An earlier variant is the phone that Chancellor Angela Merkel uses. And Telekom wants to sell it to you – or your government, or your company, or to anyone looking to migrate away from American and British technology solutions in the wake of the NSA spying scandal. But critics of the initiative say that equally secure products can be had for a fraction of the cost, and that Deutsche Telekom’s ties to the German government make SimKo problematic for potential foreign government buyers.

    Telekom’s SimKo project was born in 2004 at the behest of the German government, which owns a 32% stake in Telekom. It wanted a solution that would encrypt data and eventually voice traffic on 10,000 civil servants’ government-issue phones – both when they communicated with one another on the phones and when their phones were connected to the government’s secure email network.

    After five years of research, the first SimKo phone, a modified HTC Touch Pro 2 running Windows Mobile 6.5, was released in late 2009. It could encrypt text messages and email, but voice traffic was left unencrypted because at the time telecom providers thought the encryption built into their 3G networks was robust enough to thwart hacking. This was wrong, as the Berlin-based Chaos Computer Club group proved in late 2009, when it easily hacked into 3G networks.

    This incident sent Deutsche Telekom looking for another solution – and it came in the form of Samsung’s Knox-enabled phones, which were unveiled this year at the mobile phone industry’s annual trade show in Barcelona. Presently Knox is only available commercially for the Galaxy Note 3 “phablet”; the Galaxy S3 and S4 require an update that hasn’t been provided yet.

    Samsung’s platform is aimed primarily at the US Department of Defense, which said this past spring that it plans to buy 600,000 “secure classified and protected unclassified mobile solutions that are based on commercial off-the-shelf products.” Government-wide purchases of secure smart phones could eventually reach 8m devices in the US – and Samsung, as the largest maker of Android phones, hopes to grab a big chunk of that business. At present the DoD lists only BB10, Apple’s iOS 6 and Samsung’s Knox as having met its requirements for mobile security.

    So keen is Samsung to garner US government contracts that it developed the Knox platform almost entirely to US government specifications, with particular emphasis on modifying the open-source SE Linux programming language to meet Department of Defense requirements. The company says in its whitepaper: “Samsung R&D teams have worked very closely with the NSA to port and integrate this technology into Android. This port of SE Linux to Android is commonly referred to as Security Enhancements for Android, or ‘SE for Android‘.”

    Knox phones destined for the US Department of Defense are given an extra layer of security by General Dynamics and defence software contractor Fixmo. Both companies are adding voice encryption and special authentication protocols that allow the devices to sign on to secure government networks like the DoD’s SIPRNet, which was where the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables were stored.

    But can an American chief executive or the President of Brazil get one of these ultra-secure Knox phones from General Dynamics? Unlikely. An employee at General Dynamics G4, who asked not to be quoted by name, said the devices that it modifies for the government “are based on software technology that goes to the root of the phone. Our technology is not used by other countries”.

    This is where Deutsche Telekom hopes to fill a niche. It’s adding a similar, extra security layer to its phones as well. And it says it will sell the same device that it makes for Angela Merkel – the Merkelphone – to anyone willing to pay the €1,700 asking price.

    Telekom’s version of the Samsung Knox encrypts all voice and data traffic into and out of the phone with a cryptocard made by cergate and software by NCP, both based in Nürnberg. The phone’s L4 microkernel is made by Berlin-based Trust2Core, a start-up that Telekom owns, in a partnership with the Technical University of Dresden and Dresden-based Kernkonzept.

    A microkernel is essentially a bespoke package of code that “provides basic memory management, task and context switching, and little else”. This core is very difficult to infect with malicious code, so it’s well suited towards keeping the two operating systems separate, while at the same time allowing both OSes to share storage memory and components, like the screen, camera, or microphone.

    Telekom’s Bartsch said the company assumes that attempts will be made to hack into its systems.

    “We assume that there are organisations that want to obtain information, like the NSA. The NSA has every piece of technology that exists to decode security keys in a relatively quick timespan,” Bartsch said.

    For this reason, he said the company creates a new secure key to all its SimKo devices everyday. Telekom’s assumption is that code breakers would need longer a longer than a day to crack their keys.

    “We change the security keys every 24 hours,” Bartsch explained. “Every morning at 4am, the system cuts off all VPN connections, creates a new key, and then reconnects with the gateway.”

    But privacy experts in the US and Europe are critical of the initiative. They say the system is at best an expensive executive toy, and at worst problematic for foreign governments due to Telekom’s ties to the German government.

    A German chief executive, whose company sells interception systems for phone and internet networks in 80 countries, praised Telekom for not engaging in warrantless wiretaps against people within Germany – but pointed out that it would be perfectly legal for Germany’s spy agency, the BND, to ask Telekom for information about its foreign clients or for information about global organisations based in the country that might be breaking laws.

    “I have not seen any proof that the BND is doing any tapping inside Germany – it’s a typical play by the books, cover-your-ass organisation,” the executive told me. “But if a bank here is increasing its mail traffic to North Korea, that would be interesting. Or if an organisation is communicating a lot with Afghanistan – maybe that’s drug trafficking. You’d have to ask the BND, of course, but I’d say that would be fair game.”

    Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that Europe’s telecom operators have a poor track record of defending net neutrality and data protection, and tend to do their governments’ bidding when asked.

    “I would think that Telekom gives the same level of help to the German government as AT&T does to the US government. Like all telecoms around the world, when a government says jump, they jump.” And he notes that even in the unlikely event that Telekom can assure potential foreign clients that it won’t snoop on them, the system is still too expensive – and thus, small – to be relevant.

    “Even VIPs call her husbands and wives,” Soghoian noted. “Both ends of the call have to be on this platform for it to work. Unless the security is deployed internationally and nationally, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to help you if you can only talk to a few thousand people.”

    When asked about its ties to the German government, Bartsch said the company ordered the Samsung Knox phones it sells with an interchangeable cryptochip slot to address this very fear.

    “Yes, this is a German solution, approved by the government’s standards office. But it can be combined with other countries’ security standards too. Countries that buy the platform from us can manufacture their own cryptochips to work with this phone, so they would hold their own encryption keys,” Bartsch said.

    But the German tech executive who sells interception hardware pointed out that SimKo is expensive compared to secure voice and text chatting apps such as Silent Circle and RedPhone which are available at a fraction of the cost.

    “The compartmentalising aspect of SimKO is useful. But other apps work just as well. I trust Phil Zimmermann’s [inventor of Silent Circle] background and history. Microphone logging could be an issue through a backdoor in the Android or Apple iOS – in that case,

    Silent Circle wouldn’t help you. But most business people will never have to worry about this problem.”
    In its marketing of SimKO, Telekom is using the tag line “superior privacy Made in German.” And this is not altogether surprising – German tech companies are trying to capitalise on what is seen as a massive breach of trust in their America competitors.

    The person spearheading this effort is Rene Obermann, Deutsche Telecom’s CEO. This autumn, Obermann has hosted data privacy conferences and written op/ed pieces in which he has called for Germany to wall off its internet from the US, and to create Europe-only clouds. Yet, while seemingly championing online privacy in Europe, another division of the company he runs – T-Mobile USA – serves as an active partner in the U.S. government’s massive dragnet targeted against U.S. citizens.

    German tech blog Netzpolik pointed out this incongruity at the beginning of the NSA/Snowden leaks affair. It asked Deutsche Telekom whether Obermann knew about T-Mobile’s longstanding agreement with the US Justice Department when he declared this past summer that “We are not cooperating with foreign intelligence services.”

    The company’s response: “Of course Deutsche Telekom cooperates with intelligence services, when obliged by law to do so.”

    And that is, of course, the same line that Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, AT&T and Verizon – Telecom’s competitors in the secure enterprise space – have used throughout this NSA scandal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 26, 2013, 10:40 am
  13. It looks like Snowden is going to testify before the EU parliament via video link. And according Jan Philipp Albrecht – the German MP that’s leading the EU’s data privacy regulatory overhaul – the questions they’re planning on asking Snowden will involve “the role of EU intel services”, although it’s unclear if any non-UK intelligence activities will be discussed. As Albrecht put it, “the attacks of the GCHQ on TelCom services like Belgacom and on servers on huge internet companies are illegal cyberattacks which come near to the notion of cyberwar”. He’s also does not believe that ‘national security’ is as completely isolated from EU jurisdiction as is often supposed and suggested creating EU-wide regulations that set minimum-standards for EU intelligence agencies. It should be an interesting testimony:

    Infosecurity
    Exclusive: Jan Philipp Albrecht Speaks to Infosecurity Ahead of Calling Snowden as a Witness

    06 December 2013
    The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee (LIBE) is arranging for Edward Snowden to be a video witness in its ongoing investigation into what it calls the ‘surveillance scandal.’ Infosecurity spoke to the LIBE member and GDPR rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht ahead of this event.

    Late yesterday afternoon Jan Philipp Albrecht, member of the European Parliament, announced that Edward Snowden will appear via video link before the parliament’s LIBE committee. LIBE is in the process of investigating what it calls the ‘surveillance scandal;’ that is, the mass surveillance largely carried out by the NSA and GCHQ revealed in the documents leaked by Snowden and published by the Guardian, the Washington Post and der Spiegel.

    GCHQ’s involvement in the ‘surveillance scandal’ has so far largely been kept off the European table. “I have direct competence in law enforcement but not in secret services,” said Viviane Reding, European justice commissioner last month. “That remains with the member states. In general, secret services are national.” But while Reding is an unelected member of the government (European Commission), Albrecht is an elected member of the legislature (European Parliament); and in almost all democracies government and legislature have different agendas.

    Albrecht confirmed to Infosecurity that he will ask Snowden about “the role of EU intel services.” Snowden, it should be remembered, has already said, “The UK has a huge dog in this fight… They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

    Infosecurity asked Albrecht what, if anything, Parliament could or should do if Snowden confirms serious GCHQ involvement in mass surveillance within Europe – it already stands accused of hacking Belgacom. Parliament, he said, “could request COM to start infringement procedure on basis values of fundamental rights and legal principles as lined out in Art. 2 of the Treaty and on the over-step of the notion of ‘national security’ in Art 4. In addition the activity in other EU member states without explicit permission by those could be infringement to souvereignety of these other EU member states and the principle of loyal cooperation in the EU.” In short, Albrecht does not believe that ‘national security’ is as completely isolated from EU jurisdiction as is often supposed.

    He added that the work of European intelligence services should be considered within the proposed General Data Protection Regulation, and that Europe should start discussing “a treaty change procedure on allowing the EU to set minimum standards for intel services.”

    But in all of these various accusations and refusals to comment, one question has been left unasked and unanswered: what do Europeans actually think of Britain and GCHQ’s spying. Infosecurity asked the question bluntly, and received a refreshingly blunt reply. “It is already today a huge damage to the relationship between UK and the rest of Europe. The attacks of the GCHQ on TelCom services like Belgacom and on servers on huge internet companies are illegal cyberattacks which come near to the notion of cyberwar. The involvement of issues not covered by national security like economic spying splits the Union and throws it back to the fight between national economies in the last century. It will harm the economies in Europe including the British and the trust in the institutions as well as the digital market severely.”

    In other news, Sweden has been waging near-‘cyberwarfare’ against Russia:

    Sweden spied on Russia for NSA: report

    Published: 05 Dec 2013 07:11 GMT+01:00
    Updated: 05 Dec 2013 07:11 GMT+01:00

    Sweden helps the United States National Security Agency (NSA) spy on Russia, leaked documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal.

    Information collected about Russian politicians by Sweden’s main signals intelligence agency, the National Radio Defence Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA), was handed over to the US spy agency, according to documents reviewed by Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag gränskning (UG).

    The documents describe FRA as a “leading partner” in the NSA’s international cooperation to monitor communications traffic around the world.

    “The FRA provided NSA (…) unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics,” reads one NSA document from dated April 18th, 2013.

    The documents don’t go into detail about how leading Russian politicians are monitored, such as whether their phones are tapped or information about their phone calls and internet use are registered. Nor is it clear if Russian President Vladimir Putin or other leaders are the target of the spying.

    However, it appears the NSA is satisfied with the cooperation provided by FRA, which the US spy agency describes as “unique”.

    Ahead of a meeting with officials from FRA, NSA bosses are instructed to praise the Swedes, according to the investigative news programme.

    “Thank Sweden for its continued work on the Russian target, and underscore the primary role that FRA plays as a leading partner to work the Russian Target, including Russian leadership, (…) and (…) counterintelligence,” one of the documents reviewed by SVT reads.

    “FRA’s cable access has resulted in unique SIGINT reporting on all of these areas,” it continues, using a common abbreviation to refer to signals intelligence.

    According to UG, neither FRA or the NSA was willing to comment on the report.

    “The quote you read here is the type of information that’s hard for us to comment on,” FRA spokesman Fredrik Wallin told SVT.

    The NSA said only that “the US government has made clear that the United States gathers foreign intelligence of the type gathered by all nations”.

    The reports comes amid revelations about the extent of US-led international signals intelligence activities, with Sweden having been named previously as an important partner.

    British journalist Duncan Campbell claimed earlier this year that Sweden, via FRA, had become “the biggest partner to (British intelligence agency) GCHQ outside the English-speaking countries”.

    Both FRA and the Swedish government have pointed out that Sweden’s laws allow for international cooperation, but won’t specify with which countries.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 7, 2013, 7:38 pm
  14. There’s no word yet on whether not Germany is going to be admitted into the ‘Five Eyes’ club, but there are still rumblings:

    Deutsche Welle.de
    US lawmakers push for German entrance to Five Eyes spy alliance

    The United States and four allies cooperate on surveillance issues and reportedly don’t spy on each other. Some representatives in the US want to extend that deal to Germany, making it a sixth eye in the Five Eyes club.
    Date 22.11.2013
    Author Antje Passenheim / db
    Editor Sean Sinico

    For decades, the community of five allied states – the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom – has shared intelligence and at the same time pledged not to spy on each other. According to US congressmen Tim Ryan and Charles Dent, Germany should join the exclusive Five Eyes club as the sixth eye.

    In a letter to President Barack Obama dated November 6, the Republicans requested that the president “essentially enters into negotiations to strike an agreement extending the Five Eyes Intelligence Pact and include Germany,” Dent, who represents Pennsylvania’s 15th district, told DW.

    Should the president respond favorably and offer Germany membership in the pact, it would be a great show of friendship, the Pennsylvania politician added. “Things like surveilling or spying on leaders of each other’s countries would not be allowed,” Dent stated, adding there are probably other agreements that are not public. “But it would just further extend an already strong relationship.”

    Greater transparency

    Some Democrats, too, favor the idea. “I think it’s something that would be beneficial,” William Keating said, adding he is convinced the White House is already hard at work on an accord that would dissolve the disgruntlement in Berlin concerning the NSA’s spying activities. It is probably working on guidelines for more transparent intelligence policies that would also take into account American security interests, the US representative from Massachusetts said. “And I think it can succeed.”

    According to Keating, this discussion should not be limited to the United States. Just because a state has certain technologies doesn’t mean it has to use them unless absolutely necessary. “I think it would be helpful to be joined with other countries in taking the same kind of approach so that we would know which countries would want to include themselves in the same type of policies,” Keating said.

    An extended no-spy pact isn’t as simple as it sounds, however, Fred Fleitz warned. “What concerns me is that we have to design this agreement to figure out how we can perhaps extend such an offer to Germany that we are not going to extend to certain other states in Europe,” the former CIA analyst and ex-staffer on the House Intelligence Committee said.

    The sixth eye?

    Tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, if that indeed happened, was a big mistake, Fleitz told DW; after all, Germany is a close US ally. Fleitz said he couldn’t imagine what the NSA was hoping to learn, as the times have changed since Germany stood by France and Russia in a boycott of the war on Iraq.

    In some cases, Fleitz conceded, Germany and the United States must spy on members of a foreign government for reasons of national security. “What if the Golden Dawn in a coalition would take control of the Greek Parliament?” Fleitz said. “This is something that could destroy the EU, the euro, the national financial-situation. In that situation, Germany and the US would be spying on the new prime minister with a good reason.”

    Such possibilities, he concluded, should not be ruled out.

    Should Germany become the sixth eye in the surveillance pact, it would be the first non-English speaking member. That fact could lead to tensions within the European Union – so far, Britain is the only EU member in the spy alliance. Some countries, including France, would certainly be just as suitable to join the pact, Fleitz said. Others would not: “How could we admit Bulgaria and Rumania? I like those countries, but their democratic system is still being developed.”

    In related news, the people of France will most definitely not be getting a ‘no spy’ agreement between the French government and themselves.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 10, 2013, 10:05 am
  15. Based on the comments by German MEP and CDU/CSU interior affairs spokesman Hans-Peter Uhl, it doesn’t sound like Snowden will be asked to do a separate video interview with the German parliament:

    Deutsche Welle
    Uhl: Germany cannot tolerate a digital occupier
    Date 10.12.2013
    Author Interview: Gero Schliess, Washington / gsw
    Editor Rob Mudge

    German parliamentarian Hans-Peter Uhl visited Washington to talk with the US government about the NSA scandal. He tells DW that US officials are still missing the point and calls for an economic response in Germany.

    DW: You’ve had discussions with Congress and the Obama administration in Washington. The primary topic was the NSA and the surveillance scandal. What was your message to the American officials with whom you spoke?

    Hans-Peter Uhl: The message is relatively simple. On the one hand, we have to fight terrorism alongside American agencies. We’ve been successfully doing so for years and that must continue. On the other hand, and this is something people in the US still have to learn, data protection is an issue – not just for citizens, but also for businesses and for the state as a whole. We cannot tolerate America ruling Germany as a digital occupying power.

    Do you have the impression that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statements, in which she clearly expressed her frustration weeks ago, have reached the members of Congress and the government here?

    It would surprise me if they’ve reached them. There’s a different type of concern here. Foreigners’ data is not seen as being of any particular importance. The question is: How damaging are the actions of American intelligence services to the US economy? The European and, in particular, German market is of great significance to the US. Recently, major IT providers in the US, from Google to Microsoft and Yahoo, banded together and issued an urgent appeal, warning the US administration, ‘Cut it out! You’re damaging our interests and American economic interests.’ That message is getting through.

    Is that also your message to Germans: Avoid Yahoo and Google and use domestic providers?

    It goes without saying that American companies whom we know to be delivering data to the NSA will not receive any state contracts that involve confidential communication. It’s no longer possible to grant such contracts to the subsidiaries of American companies.

    You seem to be also referencing a contract given to Cisco to develop a secure, internal communications system for the German military. One might say you could compare that with just handing over a copy of the relevant security data to the NSA. Now Cisco has it in its hands…

    …but not for long. The contract expires next year. And then we’ll consider what steps to take next. Things can’t continue like they have been.

    How do you want to see things move forward? What are you demanding in order to protect German data and the private sphere of German citizens against American companies?

    There are a number of possibilities there. For one thing, American companies could be required not to forward the data. And that can be checked by German experts. Second, there will be a combination of German and US providers. German certification agencies should also be tasked with ensuring that the data remains in Germany.

    What have you heard thus far from the Americans with whom you’ve spoken?

    They’re beginning to understand. They emphasize again and again the necessity of collecting data in order to fight terrorism. No one disputes that. But they don’t see the monstrosity of conducting surveillance on an entire government’s actions and listening in on the chancellor’s cell phone. That has nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

    We also fear the US is conducting economic espionage. They will have more problems on their hands if they cannot somehow demonstrate that they are at least trying to prevent that from happening.

    Let’s go back to your statement that the chancellor’s deep concern has not hit home with people here. Doesn’t that also mean the German government has failed to look after its people’ s interests and their privacy?

    I would not describe it as a failure. Nevertheless, the information that Snowden provided served as a wake-up call to the German government.

    Why is the German government in need of this sort of wake-up call? It has its own intelligence and knows what goes on in intelligence circles. Is that a major oversight on behalf of the federal government?

    I think all of us were a bit too naive in the past when it comes to this topic. The thought was always: ‘They’re our allies. They wouldn’t do something like that.’

    Let’s return to Snowden. Do you want to question him just as the European Parliament would like to?

    No, we don’t need to. He will now likely be questioned via video conference with the European Parliament. Snowden was never an NSA employee, but just an external administrator. We can’t expect all that much from him anyway. Incidentally, he also misinterpreted the data that he took with him. So Mr. Snowden doesn’t know all that much that he can share with us. We don’t want to bring him to Germany.

    You appear to be privy to much more as a member of the parliamentary Committee on Internal Affairs as well as the parliament’s Control Committee. Do you consider yourself as having an overview of the extent of the NSA’s surveillance activities and acquisitiveness in Germany?

    No one can know that yet. We will know it with greater certainty in a few months. What’s certain is that many pieces of information are going to come to light that will be uncomfortable for the US.

    It would be interesting to learn more about what Mr. Uhl thinks Snowden misinterpreted. That seems like relevant info.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 10, 2013, 3:13 pm
  16. Sarah Palin only wishes her house had this kind of view:

    The Local Sweden edition
    Cold War treaty confirms Sweden was not neutral

    Published: 09 Dec 2013 11:13 GMT+01:00
    Updated: 09 Dec 2013 11:13 GMT+01:00

    Sweden signed a top secret intelligence treaty with the US and other countries in 1954, forecast the 2008 Georgian war, and now routinely spies on Russia civil targets, leaked documents from US whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal.

    “Really interesting information,” said intelligence analysis professor Wilhelm Agrell regarding the Sveriges Television (SVT) report revealing Sweden’s long-standing cooperation with the US and other western nations.

    Agrell argued that the revelations of the agreement raise serious questions regarding Sweden’s non-alignment self-image.

    “This is an ongoing alliance relationship in peacetime,” he observed.

    The top secret agreement was signed in 1954 by Sweden with the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand regarding collaboration and intelligence sharing, according to SVT’s investigative news programme Uppdrag granskning (UG).

    The agreement was wound up in 2004 and was replaced by bilateral agreements which bound Sweden’s National Radio Defence Establishment (Försvarets radioanstalt, FRA) closer to the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and British intelligence agency GCHQ.

    The leaked Snowden documents reveal that FRA’s cooperation with the NSA intensified in 2011 and that FRA provided the NSA with access to its cable-bound communications traffic during the year, including access to a “unique collection of Russian high-priority targets”.

    NSA is aware of how sensitive this type of extensive cooperation is in Sweden, which has long prided itself on a principle of neutrality and non-alignment.

    “The relationship with Sweden is protected on the top-secret level because of the country’s political neutrality,” the NSA stated in a document from 2006, according to UG.

    FRA responded to the revelations, telling UG that the agency never gives full access to cable-bound communications, but that information disclosed is carefully assessed.

    “We will not give away something without getting anything in return. We are able to gather information in our part of the world, which we can then exchange with information from other parts of the world that would be more difficult to obtain,” said Fredrik Wallin at FRA to UG.

    “This may be information that is of great importance for Swedish foreign policy,” he added.

    A separate report revealed that Sweden was able to predict the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, a conflict which the US was unable to foresee.

    “We could see how the Russians advanced units and how it then went quiet. This meant that everything was in place and the final preparations had been made to strike,” an anonymous source revealed according to a report in the Svenska Dagbladet daily.

    The reports come amid revelations about the extent of US-led international signals intelligence activities, including revelations last week that Sweden spied on Russia on behalf of the US.

    The documents describe FRA as a “leading partner” in the NSA’s international cooperation to monitor communications traffic around the world.

    “FRA provided NSA (with a) unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics,” reads one NSA document dated April 18th, 2013.

    New revelations which emerged over the weekend indicated that the surveillance included civilian targets within for example the Russian energy sector, and that the Baltic countries were also targeted by FRA. This information was subsequently shared with the US.

    Wilhelm Agrell argued that the revelations of FRA spying on Russian civilian targets is hardly surprising.

    “It’s so obvious that security today is not only military. This is quite obviously part of an economic intelligence gathering, moreover, an activity that Sweden has conducted since the 50s directed against the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries,” he said to the TT news agency.

    Agrell argued that it can be difficult to assess whether FRA’s espionage against civilian targets runs contrary to the law.

    “It can be difficult to see exactly where the extent of the law ends in practice; then you have to really consider the nature of the information. But we are perhaps getting to this point when non-state actors are the subject,” he added, explaining that when espionage focuses on friends and allies it becomes more a political than regulatory issue.

    And Sweden’s retired spies only wish they had this kind of view:

    The Local Sweden edition
    Sweden aids NSA-led hacking ops: report

    Published: 11 Dec 2013 07:49 GMT+01:00
    Updated: 11 Dec 2013 07:49 GMT+01:00

    Sweden cooperated with the United States in operations to hack into computers and carry out internet surveillance on Swedes, according to documents leaked by NSA-whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    The documents, reviewed by Svergies Television (SVT) investigative news programme Uppdrag Granskning, show that Sweden’s signals intelligence agency, the National Defence Radio Establishment (Svenska Försvarets radioanstalt – FRA) worked with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in its efforts to gain unauthorized access to computers.

    An internal NSA memo from a planned meeting between Swedish and US spy chiefs in April 2013 explains that the Swedes wanted to be updated on operation “Winterlight (Quantum Project)”.

    While it’s unclear to what Winterlight refers, Quantum is known as a powerful system for hacking into computers.Computers are hijacked, information is collected, and then sent on for analysis. The leaked documents from Snowden testify that the programme has been used against Belgian telecoms operator Belgacom, which has EU institutions as customers. The breach is under investigation by police.

    The NSA memo explains that the US spy agency cooperates with FRA and their UK counterpart GCHQ in the hacker attacks. The Swedish intelligence agency fired “100 shots, of which five successful have been redirected to GCHQ’s servers”.While the British agency is planning to pull out of the programme over concerns it may violate UK law, officials at the NSA seem unconcerned.

    “The fact is that NSA’s goal the entire time has been to transfer this work to a bilateral agreement with the Swedish partners,” the document reads.

    The hacking is controversial in Sweden. In 2010, then FRA-head Ingvar Åkesson assured the Riksdag defence committee that FRA was not involved in hacking and that doing so would be illegal.

    “We have authorization from the Defence Intelligence Court (Försvarsunderrättelsedomstolen) for the data collection we carry out,” current FRA spokesman Fredrik Wallin told SVT in response to the new revelations.

    FRA also has access to the NSA’s most powerful surveillance system, the wide-ranging Xkeyscore, the leaked documents show. It has been described as a “Google for spies” and the NSA claims it reaches “nearly everything a regular internet user does” in real time and a short time back, including email, Facebook entries, chats, web surfing history, and more.

    “With this tool, I can get at anyone in the world if I just have the person’s email address,” Snowden said in a previous interview.

    FRA’s statutes say that the agency can only spy on foreign targets, but Xkeyscore also reaches Swedes. A leaked manual from the NSA describes how it happens: “In this example, I’m looking for anyone in Sweden that visited a certain extremist forum on the web.”

    FRA cannot check information from a hacking operation that is funneled through British servers, Agrell believed.

    “It’s not about the information that’s processed and reviewed before it goes on to a foreign power. It’s clear that’s not the case. That’s where we get closer to a situation where it must be subject to judicial approval,” he said.

    Agrell also wondered if FRA, through Xkeyscore, could get around the law and receive intelligence about conditions in Sweden from foreign partners.

    “When you carry out intelligence work together in an integrated system, the FRA law appears to be a rather thin and flimsy support to lean on to secure the rights of citizens,” he added.

    “Agrell also wondered if FRA, through Xkeyscore, could get around the law and receive intelligence about conditions in Sweden from foreign partners.” That sounds like a question worth asking.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 11, 2013, 1:22 pm
  17. It looks like the question of how Germany’s parliament will interview Snowden has an answer: Snowden will get a visit from the German parliament. It’s going to be an informal meeting. About a phone:

    German committee wants to question Snowden in Moscow

    BERLIN Thu Jun 5, 2014 9:55pm BST

    Reuters – With backing from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s grand coalition government, a German parliamentary committee wants to meet former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in Moscow in the coming weeks, German network ARD reported on Thursday.

    The ruling right-left coalition has resisted opposition demands that Snowden come to Germany to testify to the parliamentary committee looking into the mass surveillance of German citizens by the US National Security Agency (NSA) that he exposed.

    The NSA practices have become a major political issue in Germany, which is sensitive to the abuses of such agencies after their Nazi and Communist pasts and reports that the NSA monitored Merkel’s mobile phone calls have cast a shadow over once close US-German relations.

    ARD quoted a leader of the committee, Christian Flisek, saying a meeting with Snowden in Moscow would not have the character of witness testifying but rather be a chance to give members a chance to get a better picture of Snowden.

    Flisek told ARD that the committee members would have, for instance, the chance to ask Snowden directly whether or not he wanted to return to the United States.

    Flisek said it was now up to Snowden to decide if he wants to meet the committee in Moscow, something the Germans would like to do by July 2.

    The Greens and Left parties, the two small opposition parties on the committee, voted against the measure because they want Snowden to come to Germany to testify. The coalition-dominated committee voted against that.

    Snowden has said he would like to be questioned in Germany. But the German government had told the committee it could not ensure that Snowden would not be detained and possibly extradited to the United States once he arrived.

    The committee also plans on questioning heads of German intelligence agencies, so it might be a good opportunity for the committee to ask the heads of German intelligence if they’re going to promise to never ever attempt to even develop the capabilities to hack any the new “cryptophones” being developed by Deutsche Telekom. Potential cryptophone buyers might find that info useful.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 5, 2014, 9:08 pm
  18. Given the charges of economic espionage conducted by the NSA against Brazil’s state-run oil giant, Petrobras, here’s a story about one type of juicy information that may have been collected by the NSA or anyone else spying on Petrobras. It a type of information with economic value but also general intelligence value with many possible uses: learning about who’s bribing whom in a giant money-laundering ring involving many of Brazil’s largest foreign and domestic banks:

    Bloomberg
    Petrobras-Linked Money Laundering Probe Spreads to Banks
    By Sabrina Valle and Peter Millard Aug 12, 2014 3:42 PM CT

    A $4.4 billion money-laundering probe linked to state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA is spreading to financial institutions as prosecutors investigate whether they met compliance requirements.

    Court documents cite units of banks including New York-based Citigroup Inc. (C), Madrid-based Banco Santander SA (SAN) and London-based HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA), as well as Sao Paulo-based Itau Unibanco Holding SA (ITUB4) and Osasco, Brazil-based Banco Bradesco SA (BBDC4) as holding accounts or executing operations linked to the alleged laundering of 10 billion reais. Banks either declined to comment or said they meet compliance requirements.

    Prosecutors are reviewing bank documents provided by police and the central bank, said Prosecutor Carlos Fernando Lima, the spokesman for a group of six prosecutors assigned to the case. He declined to name the banks because the group hasn’t started a formal prosecution and it’s not yet clear if any wrongdoing occurred.

    “Institutions have a civil responsibility for all of their clients,” Lima said in an interview in Curitiba where the case is before a judge. “My experience is there’s usually no big money laundering operation without someone behind it from a financial institution. It’s too much to go unnoticed.”

    The refining division at Petrobras, as the biggest producer in ultra-deep waters is known, is already under investigation by a congressional committee for runaway spending including alleged inflated contracts to suppliers, and is cited as one of the possible sources of cash being laundered in the case dubbed “Car Wash” by police.

    Privacy Protection

    Petrobras didn’t respond to e-mailed requests for comment on the case. The stock fell 2.3 percent to 19.67 reais in Sao Paulo.

    Banks including units of Citigroup, Santander, HSBC, Bradesco and Itau, as well as brokerages, either created accounts, transferred money or both for alleged front companies cited in the investigation, according to court documents that compile the results of a police investigation, banking records, wire taps and initial conclusions from the prosecutors assigned to the case. The documents cite specific branches in Brazil and abroad, and specific account numbers.

    The prosecution is “facing some difficulties” gaining cooperation from banks, Lima said. “They are not providing the data with the required speed and detail.”

    The court has lifted privacy protections for banking information related to the case and the prosecution has repeatedly sought cooperation from banks and brokerages, he said.

    Money Changers

    The $4.4 billion of alleged laundering includes cash from Brazilians seeking to evade tax authorities, revenue from drug trafficking and money allegedly embezzled from Petrobras (PETR4) contracts, according to police press releases and court documents.

    Informal foreign exchange traders known as doleiros normally receive money from clients in Brazil and then make deposits abroad from seemingly unrelated accounts for a fee, allowing clients to export cash without alerting the tax authorities. In the Car Wash scheme, doleiros or their associates allegedly set up front import and export companies to move larger volumes of cash, according to court documents.

    Citigroup declined to comment in an e-mailed response. Itau said it meets appropriate compliance requirements and will collaborate with investigations. HSBC said it follows the highest compliance standards and collaborates with authorities whenever asked. Bradesco said it reports any suspicious operations to authorities in a timely way. Santander said it always collaborates with authorities in Brazil. All the banks said privacy rules prevent them from releasing information to the public on specific clients.

    Top 10

    Those institutions are among the top 10 biggest non-government owned banks in Brazil by assets, according to the central bank website as of March 2014. They represent 38 percent of total assets in Brazil’s financial system.

    Pioneer Corretora de Cambio, one of the largest brokerages in Brazil, said all of its transactions cited in the case followed central bank regulations.

    Prosecutors are looking to identify bank staff who could have assisted in the alleged scheme and will seek collaboration from countries where the money was sent, Lima said.

    Investigators have identified three groups of financial institutions allegedly involved: Brazilian banks holding accounts for doleiros, brokerages and banks executing foreign exchange operations allegedly based on fake import transactions, and international banks holding accounts overseas allegedly for front export companies.

    ‘Preliminary Phase’

    In June, Swiss authorities voluntarily blocked $28 million in accounts in the names of former Petrobras director Paulo Roberto Costa or his alleged associates. He is accused of being a link between Petrobras and an alleged laundering organization led by Alberto Youssef who is jailed in Curitiba.

    Youssef’s defense has entered a request to have him released while the case is in progress and denies the accusations, his lawyer Antonio Augusto Figueiredo Basto said in a phone interview from Curitiba. Youssef hasn’t been able to enter a plea yet because the case “is in a preliminary phase,” Basto said.

    Costa’s lawyer, Nelio Machado didn’t respond to e-mails and phone calls requesting comment. Machado has repeatedly denied accusations against his client and said he will enter a plea in comments published by local media.

    Youssef and his group allegedly diverted at least $445 million from June 2011 to March 2014 through 3,649 operations that included funds from Petrobras’s Abreu e Lima refinery, according to a criminal case dated April 22 that prosecutors submitted to the court. Youssef is providing testimony to the court while under arrest, Basto said.

    Gathering Testimony

    The police first announced the investigation in March after seizing assets including 6 million reais in cash, three hotels and 25 luxury cars, including a Land Rover that Youssef bought for Costa, according to press releases from the police. Costa told investigators the car was a payment for consulting services and that he has done nothing wrong.

    More than 40 people have been indicted in 10 separate prosecutions since then. Youssef is included in five of them and Costa in two. The court is still gathering testimony from witnesses before reaching any conclusions on convictions or acquittals, the court’s press office said in e-mailed responses.

    Brazil loses between 1.4 percent and 2.3 percent of annual gross domestic product to corruption, according to a 2010 study from Sao Paulo state’s Industry Federation, Fiesp. Latin America’s largest economy ranks 133rd in diversion of public funds due to corruption among 148 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2014, 7:01 am

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