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Surprise, Surprise! BND Spies on the United States

Reinhard Gehlen: Nazi head of postwar German intelligence

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COMMENT: It comes as no surprise to knowledgeable observers that the BND, the German foreign intelligence service born of the Reinhard Gehlen Nazi spy outfit from World War II, is spying on the United States. (Sadly, the term knowledgeable people excludes an AWFUL lot of folks!)

A BND signals intelligence organization called RAHAB spies on the United States, as well as the SWIFT network, used to track terrorist funding. Interestingly and significantly, in the dustup following Eddie the Friendly Spook’s revelations, Germany has threatened to suspend the SWIFT program.

An incisive article from The Huffington Post notes the willingness of German business–read the Bormann capital network–to channel sensitive technology to countries hostile to the United States.

The BND answers directly to the German Chancellor!

“Oh, By the Way, Germany Spies on Us” by  Keith Thomson; Huffington Post; 10/31/2013.

EXCERPT: For two decades, a quiet office park outside Frankfurt has served as home to Project Rahab, a cyber-espionage operation named after the prostitute in the Book of Joshua who helps spies infiltrate Jericho. According to the National Security Council’s Operations Security Intelligence Threat Handbook, Project Rahab is an arm of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency. Of note, the BND is directly subordinate to German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Project Rahab uses SIGINT — intelligence based on interception of signals, conversations and electronic communications — to gather information on foreign business competition that can benefit German companies. BND officers have penetrated computer networks and databases in countries including Russia, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Italy, and the United States.

In his book Spies Among Us, former NSA intelligence and computer systems analyst Ira Winkler details Project Rahab hackers’ successful infiltration of the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which provides the network for financial institutions worldwide to send and receive trillions of dollars in a secure and reliable environment. The ability to monitor SWIFT transactions would provide German businesses a leg up — at least. (As it happens, last month, the German magazine Der Spiegel used documents acquired by Edward Snowden to break the news that the NSA monitors SWIFT.)

Project Rahab poses a far greater threat to U.S. national security. Of particular concern, according to Winkler, is “the apparent willingness of German businesses to funnel sensitive information and technology to nations that are hostile to the United States.” For example, Iran. Much of what Iran has acquired is nuclear technology.

Yesterday, BND head Gerhard Schindler issued the following denial to the Zeit online news site: “No telecommunication-intelligence is conducted from the German embassy in Washington.” Not exactly a denial of spying on us, is it?

This is all old news to the intelligence community. . . .


4 comments for “Surprise, Surprise! BND Spies on the United States”

  1. Uh oh. Now Norway is pissed at the NSA:

    The Nordic Page: Norway
    19.11.2013 – Oslo
    New Details of US Surveillance Scandal Shake Norway
    A new Snowden document shows that NSA monitored around 33 million mobile calls in Norway in one month. Opposition parties react strongly and call the prime minister Solberg to protest against the USA.

    The U.S. Secret Service National Security Agency (NSA) watched more than 33 million mobile calls in Norway for a period of 30 days, according to Snowden documents published in Dagbladet today. Monitoring may also have occurred both before and after this period. The document is titled “Norway – Last 30 days” shows that in the period between 10 December 2012 and 8 January 2013, 33,186,042 calls have been monitored in Norway.

    Former Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he did not know the extent of the U.S. surveillance.

    – What appears to be important now is not to mention the scale, but to clarify what actually happened, says Stoltenberg to NRK P1.

    Another Labor party politician and former culture minister Hadia Tajik stresses that the Norwegian people must have access to what Americans know about them. The minister of environment during the Stoltenberg government, Bård Vegard Solhjell (SV) agrees with Tajik and thinks monitoring should have consequences for Norway’s foreign relations with the U.S..

    Socialist Left party (SV) leader, Audun Lysbakken, writes on his Twitter :

    “Monitoring scandal revealed by Dagbladet today is very serious. Norway must protest vigorously against the United States”

    Like the opposition parties, the other political parties supporting the current government reacted to the surveillance fiercely. Liberal Party leader (Venstre) Trine Skei Grande and the Christian Democratic Party (KrF) leader Knut Arild Hareide believe the massive collective surveillance of Norwegian citizens is shocking.

    Venstre leader Trine Skei Grande says Prime Minister Erna Solberg must now go out and publicly react strongly. KrF leader Hariede similarly believes the prime minister must now give a clear response to the U.S. government.

    – This requires a clear response from Norway to the United States. This is totally unacceptable, says Hareide.

    On the other hand, Prime minster Erna Solberg stressed that she is shocked by revelations and they did not have any information on this volume.

    – But based on data from other countries, it is not surprising to find that there could be a similar situation in Norway. It is legitimate to engage in intelligence and intelligence cooperation, but it must be targeted and based on actual suspicions. Friends should not monitor each other, says Solberg.

    Spying on Norway? No way! No?:

    The Foreigner
    Norway media and military differ over Snowden NSA documents

    Published on Tuesday, 19th November, 2013 at 11:47 under the news category, by Linn Schjerven and Michael Sandelson .
    Last Updated on 19th November 2013 at 14:38.

    New documents allegedly show the US’ National Security Agency (NSA) monitored over 33 million Norwegian calls in the span of 30 days, according to Dagbladet. Norway’s military disagrees this is correct.

    The information, which supposedly comes forth in the ‘Norway – Last 30 Days’ list, shows 33,186,042 calls’ metadata was monitored.

    Part of the ‘Boundless Information’ programme, it was compiled from 10 December 2012 to 08 January 2013, reports the paper about the Edward Snowden-linked documents they say they have.

    Metadata gives the mobile subscriber’s IMEI code (serial number), number, location, the number dialed, and length of call.

    Head of Norwegian military intelligence Lieutenant-General Kjell Grandhagen tells NRK that Dagbladet’s information is incorrect. Dagbladet informs the state broadcaster they are double-checking facts.

    “The 33 million calls were obtained by us in connection with our international operations,” he says. “This charting is done to identify terrorism and support the military’s international operations.”

    Last year, then Police Security Service (PST) director Janne Kristiansen resigned after revealing detail’s of Norwegian intelligence operatives abroad.

    America has agreed to fund maintaining Norway’s Globus II radar in Finnmark County’s Vardø going with some USD 50 million. Both the US Air Force (USAF) and the Norwegian army’s intelligence service operate the facility.

    The military’s Lt. Gen. Grandhagen has said the scope of Norway’s electronic surveillance monitoring is expanding.

    According to Glenn Greenwald, more stories on the NSA’s activities in Norway will be published tomorrow. Will the Norwegian military be shocked too with this upcoming “revelation” or will we be inadvertently learning more about the NSA’s intelligence sharing programs? Maybe the NSA was spying on the Norwegian spies spying on Norway? We’ll kind of find out soon…

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 19, 2013, 3:20 pm
  2. Behold, the world’s most exclusive party line:

    The Scotsman
    British spies ‘listened in to Angela Merkel’s mobile’
    Monday 25th November 2013
    BRITAIN’S GCHQ eavesdropped regularly on calls from German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, according to reports in a German magazine today.

    Weeks after it was revealed that America’s NSA routinely hacked into Ms Merkel’s mobile phone comes the revelation that Britain – along with Russia, China and North Korea – were listening into the conversations of the world’s most powerful woman.

    “With so many people hacking in at once it is a surprise the mobile didn’t explode in her hand,” one government official told a radio phone-in show in Germany yesterday.

    The claims are made in Focus magazine by security correspondent Josef Hufelschulte, regarded as reliable as he was the target of German intelligence hacking of his phone a decade ago when spies wanted to trace the source of his stories.

    Last week Berlin announced it was stepping up security for high-ranking politicians with special anti-bugging devices in mobile and landline telephones.

    It is understood this was announced because officials knew of the free-for-all listening-in that was taking place on the chancellor’s phone among the world’s top espionage services.

    The British Embassy in Berlin was revealed in the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to be the base for GCHQ snooping in Berlin. In their article, Focus reveals that Germany has identified 120 diplomats registered at the Russian Embassy in Berlin to be spies, 60 of them tasked specifically with recruiting informers across Germany.

    In the past year overseas agents – including British ones – have allegedly tried to recruit more than 100 German politicians, military officers, civil servants, business managers and scientists to trade information deemed useful.

    “These are the ones that did the honourable thing and reported the approaches made to them by spooks from another country,” said a government source.

    “How many hundreds more sold out for cash or sex or some other commodity they wanted is anyone’s guess.”

    The phone tapping claims will further strain relations between Berlin and London, as British diplomats work hard to gloss over the effects of the embassy spying operation in the German capital.

    A spokeswoman from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night: “As part of a long-standing policy, we neither confirm or deny anything that concerns intelligence issues.”

    Following the phone-tapping reports, a German politician has called on British spy chiefs to hand over information they gathered on him using the “spy station” at the UK embassy in Berlin.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 25, 2013, 10:37 am
  3. German courts look like they’re about to give online porn fans a very cold shower:

    The Guardian
    Thousands of Germans get warning letters for watching copyrighted porn
    Letters ask recipients to pay €250 fine for watching films on streaming website RedTube.com

    Philip Oltermann in Berlin
    theguardian.com, Monday 16 December 2013 10.38 EST

    It is the kind of letter that might well lead to a distinctly uncomfortable conversation around the breakfast table: this month, between 20,000 and 30,000 German households received legal warnings for having viewed copyrighted pornographic films via the streaming website RedTube.com.

    Initially, it had been assumed that a court error had led to the sending of the letters, which ask for the payment of a €250 fine to the Swiss media agent that claims to hold copyright for the films, including Amanda’s Secret, Miriam’s Adventure and Glamour Show Girls. But now the legal firm behind the warnings says it plans to look into more infringements on porn streaming sites in the coming year. “Redtube was more like a test balloon,” Thomas Urmann of U+C told Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

    Were the Bavarian law firm to succeed, it would set a worldwide precedent. In the past, streaming sites have been able to circumvent copyright law, as no copy of the original work is created. But U+C, which specialises in file-sharing cases, argue that viewing clips on streaming sites can constitute a proliferation of copyrighted material since a tiny copy of the file is created in the memory of their computer.

    RedTube’s Alex Taylor released a statement saying: “RedTube stands by its firm opinion that these letters are completely unfounded and that they violate the rights of those who received it in a very serious manner,” describing the court’s actions as blackmail and a violation of privacy.

    The copyright lawyer Christian Solmecke told the Guardian that there was not only “no legal basis” for the fines, but that it was possible that the law firm behind the letters may have broken the law: “It is hard to imagine how the IP addresses of the users could have been obtained on a legal basis.”

    He suggests that the Cologne state court that handed out the IP addresses to U+C law firm only did so in the mistaken belief that RedTube.com was a file-sharing site like BitTorrent. Furthermore, research by online news portal heise.de suggests that those users who received the warning were redirected to the copyrighted clips without their knowledge, in what the site calls a “computer scam”.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2013, 3:31 pm
  4. The great porn shakedown of 2013 is no more:

    German court reverses itself, puts the brakes on bizarre “porn troll” case
    “The Archive” accused thousands of violating its copyright on 4 porn films.

    by Cyrus Farivar – Dec 20 2013, 6:54pm CST

    On Friday, judges at the Regional Court of Cologne (PDF, German) have taken the unusual step of revoking (Google Translate) at least 50 of their own court orders in a strange intellectual property dispute.

    Those orders, issued over the course of the last few months, had compelled Deutsche Telekom (a major German ISP) to handover user names and addresses corresponding to over 50,000 German IP addresses that were accused violating the copyright of a handful of porn films. Each order was approved by a three-judge panel, which unanimously had to agree to send the order to Deutsche Telekom.

    Those names and addresses were then used to send letters to tens of thousands of Germans, accusing them of copyright infringement of one of four porn films. The letters went on to order them to stop viewing the films on the streaming site Redtube.com (NSFW), and pay €250 ($345) to a shady Swiss company called The Archive. That money, the letter stated, would put a stop to future litigation.

    At least two law firms in Cologne and Berlin have taken up the charge of representing people that they feel have been wrongly accused of copyright infringement by a Regensburg-based law firm, Urmann and Colleagues (U+C). Since the summer, U+C has requested 1,000 IP addresses in 50 different applications to the Cologne court. Neither The Archive nor U+C have responded to Ars’ request for comment.

    The court appears to have erred in its judgment, believing that these cases involved file-sharing websites—such cases happen very regularly in Germany. But, as these accusations involve streaming, rather than direct infringement or downloading, the judges now say (PDF, German) that individuals cannot be held liable for what appeared on a streaming site, rather than a download or file-sharing site.

    “This is, in my point of view, a groundbreaking decision,” said Christian Solmecke told Ars. He’s a Cologne-based lawyer whose firm is representing 600 Germans (Google Translate) that have received such letters.

    “This is a really unusual decision,” he added. “But as I’ve said, the court did not read the documents correctly in the first instance and they thought that these are the same documents like file-sharing documents. There are 600 decisions in Cologne per month for file-sharing normally.”

    Cologne is often the jurisdiction for such cases as Deutsche Telekom sits in this particular jurisdiction.

    Porn fans should feel free to celebrate but don’t everyone celebrate at the same time. It could break the internet.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2013, 9:40 pm

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