Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #827 Brave New World: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by 10/02/2014. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #812.  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748.)

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Lis­ten: MP3

This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Intro­duc­tion: Sup­ple­ment­ing the many pro­grams already record­ed about Eddie the Friend­ly Spook [Snow­den], this broad­cast updates us on devel­op­ments in the Snowden/WikiLeaks “op,” as well as pre­sent­ing infor­ma­tion which will enrich lis­ten­ers’ under­stand­ing of the admit­ted­ly com­plex and com­pli­cat­ed line of analy­sis pre­sent­ed on this top­ic.

(The Snow­den gam­bit is a fair­ly obvi­ous intel­li­gence oper­a­tion, aimed at, among oth­er things: the desta­bi­liza­tion of the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion, the desta­bi­liza­tion of the NSA and GCHQ, an attack on U.S. high-tech and inter­net busi­ness, an attempt by Ger­many to force inclu­sion in the “Five Eyes Club” and an inter­dic­tion of U.S. diplo­mat­ic pol­i­cy. In the lat­ter regard, we will fur­ther ana­lyze the Snow­den “op” in the con­text of the nega­tion of Oba­ma’s “reboot” with Rus­sia in an upcom­ing broad­cast.)

After all the inter­na­tion­al cat­er­waul­ing about Angela Merkel’s mobile phone sup­pos­ed­ly hav­ing been hacked by the NSA, the probe into the alleged hack has been dropped “for lack of evi­dence!”

The Ger­mans have been con­sum­mate­ly hyp­o­crit­i­cal about the Snow­den “op”–not only does Ger­man intel­li­gence do exact­ly what it has berat­ed the NSA for doing, it has part­nered with the NSA in its sur­veil­lance activ­i­ties.

Ger­many has allowed Black­ber­ry to pur­chase a com­pa­ny that han­dles secu­ri­ty tech­nol­o­gy for mobile phones, on the con­di­tion that it turns over its source-code to the Ger­man intel­li­gence! The sus­pi­cion in these quar­ters con­cerns Ger­many’s desire to use the tech­nol­o­gy to com­pro­mise the mobile phones of tar­get­ed indi­vid­u­als.

After review­ing the BND’s mon­i­tor­ing of cell phone calls made by Hillary Clin­ton and John Ker­ry and expul­sion of the CIA sta­tion chief from Berlin, the pro­gram unde­scores BND’s cir­cum­ven­tion of rules designed to pre­vent illic­it spy­ing by the agency.

In addi­tion to clas­si­fy­ing tar­get­ed cit­i­zens as “office hold­ers,” in order to cir­c­u­m­ent Ger­man reg­u­la­tions on espi­onage, BND ratio­nal­izes satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tion inter­cepts by clas­si­fy­ing those as out­side of  Ger­man territory–they tech­ni­cal­ly come from space.

Ger­many is ask­ing Google to dis­close the algo­rithm used in its search engine, which would enhance Ger­many’s abil­i­ty to con­duct elec­tron­ic espi­onage.

Con­clud­ing with two sto­ries that high­light the extent to which we are liv­ing in a “brave new world.”

A Turk­ish pipeline explod­ed in 2008 after a sophis­ti­cat­ed attack neu­tral­ized nor­mal secu­ri­ty devices and pro­ce­dures that would have pro­tect­ed the pipeline. The “Wik­i­fi­ca­tion” of soci­ety has brought us into an entire­ly dif­fer­ent tech­no­log­i­cal and polit­i­cal era.

Two pri­vate cit­i­zens built a tiny, mobile drone that usurps cell-phone tow­er func­tions and can mim­ic a tow­er in order to inter­cept calls. This, too, high­lights the Brave New World in which we find our­selves.

This Brave New World is among the rea­sons we are sup­port­ive of NSA and GCHQ, warts and all. We exist in a new land­scape of civ­i­liza­tion and it is essen­tial, in our view, that the gov­ern­ment have a major agency involved with mon­i­tor­ing such tech­nolo­gies.

Sad­ly, we are not con­vinced that NSA is up to the task at hand–perhaps that is an unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tion.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of  specifics of BND’s spy­ing on calls made by Hillary Clin­ton and John Ker­ry;  Angela Merkel’s oppo­si­tion to net neu­tral­i­ty; Google’s devel­op­ment of AI tech­nol­o­gy to refine its search engine algo­rithm; review of the expul­sion of the CIA sta­tion chief from Berlin for receiv­ing tran­scripts of BND spy­ing on Clin­ton and Ker­ry.

1. After the inter­na­tion­al rhetor­i­cal storm over the hack­ing of Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by the NSA, the Ger­mans have dropped the inves­ti­ga­tion due to a lack of evi­dence!

“Ger­many to Drop Probe into US Spy­ing on Merkel” [Focus]; TheLocal.de; 11/23/2014.

Ger­many is drop­ping a probe into the alleged tap­ping of Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone by US spies, due to a lack of evi­dence, mag­a­zine Focus said Sat­ur­day.

Six months after the inves­ti­ga­tion began, the experts have failed to find any sol­id proof to back the case, and have there­fore rec­om­mended that it be dropped, the mag­a­zine report­ed, quot­ing sources close to the Ger­man jus­tice min­istry.

“The result (of the probe) is almost zilch. A lot of hot air, but noth­ing done,” one source was quot­ed as say­ing.

Accord­ing to sources close to the judi­ciary, the fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor will heed the experts’ rec­om­men­da­tion to drop the probe.

In June, Ger­man jus­tice had announced that a case had been opened into the alleged spy­ing by for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vices on Ger­man soil.


2a. In an attempt to stave off the oust­ing of CIA sta­tion chief in Berlin, Ger­many was offered inclu­sion in the Five Eyes Club and turned it down. One won­ders what is going on behind the scenes and what they want in return?

“U.S. Offered Berlin ‘Five Eyes’ Pact. Merkel Was Done With It” by Patrick Don­ahue and John Wal­cott; Bloomberg News; 7/12/2014.

U.S. Ambas­sador John Emer­son made his way to the For­eign Min­istry in Berlin armed with a plan to head off the worst diplo­matic clash of Angela Merkel’s chan­cel­lor­ship.

Emer­son came to the July 9 meet­ing with an offer autho­rized in Wash­ing­ton: pro­vide Ger­many a U.S. intel­li­gence-shar­ing agree­ment resem­bling one avail­able only to four oth­er nations. The goal was to assuage Merkel and pre­vent the expul­sion of the Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency’s chief of sta­tion in Berlin.

It wasn’t enough.

The same morn­ing, across the bound­ary once marked by the Berlin Wall, Merkel con­vened her top min­is­ters fol­low­ing the 9:30 a.m. Cab­i­net meet­ing on the sixth floor of the Chan­cellery and resolved to ask the U.S. intel­li­gence chief to leave Ger­man soil.

Merkel, who ulti­mately deter­mined the government’s course, had to act. Pub­lic and polit­i­cal pres­sure after more than a year of accu­sa­tions of Amer­i­can espi­onage over­reach, stoked by indig­na­tion at the lack of a suf­fi­cient response from Wash­ing­ton, had left the Ger­man gov­ern­ment with no alter­na­tive.

“We don’t live in the Cold War any­more, where every­body prob­a­bly mis­trusted every­body else,” Merkel, who has pre­vi­ously reserved her Cold War-men­tal­i­ty accu­sa­tions for Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, said in an inter­view with Ger­man broad­caster ZDF today.

No Trust

The spy­ing scan­dal has blown open a rift between the U.S. and Ger­many, a nation once under Amer­i­can tute­lage in the decades after World War II. The lat­est alle­ga­tions, involv­ing U.S. dou­ble agents, rekin­dled anger over the dis­clo­sure last year that Merkel’s mobile phone had been hacked by the U.S.

“The notion that you always have to ask your­self in close coop­er­a­tion whether the one sit­ting across from you could be work­ing for the oth­ers -– that’s not a basis for trust,” Merkel told ZDF. “So we obvi­ously have dif­fer­ent per­cep­tions and we have to dis­cuss that inten­sive­ly.”

Merkel also sig­naled dis­plea­sure with U.S. spy­ing at a news con­fer­ence in Berlin on July 10. With­in an hour, her office issued a state­ment say­ing that the two new inves­ti­ga­tions into U.S. cloak-and-dag­ger meth­ods, on top of “ques­tions over the past months” fol­low­ing leaks on Nation­al Secu­rity Agency activ­ity, forced the gov­ern­ment to take action.

Invit­ed to Leave

At that point, the U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cer was invit­ed to leave the coun­try rather than suf­fer the diplo­matic ignominy of being declared “per­sona non gra­ta” and expelled under the Vien­na Con­ven­tion. Merkel’s spokesman, Stef­fen Seib­ert, said yes­ter­day that the gov­ern­ment expect­ed the uniden­ti­fied offi­cial to leave the coun­try “soon.”

The evic­tion was “a nec­es­sary step and a mea­sured response to the breach of trust that took place,” Ger­man For­eign Min­is­ter Frank-Wal­ter Stein­meier told reporters yes­ter­day. He’ll meet U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry in Vien­na tomor­row to dis­cuss the mat­ter on the side­lines of talks on Iran’s nuclear pro­gram.

The onus is on the U.S. to sug­gest solu­tions, and Ger­man offi­cials are wait­ing to hear what Ker­ry will pro­pose, accord­ing to a Ger­man diplo­mat who asked not to be iden­ti­fied dis­cussing the con­flict.

The rev­e­la­tions at once dis­rupt the U.S. secu­rity rela­tion­ship with a core Euro­pean ally and expose Ger­man anx­i­ety over the bal­ance to strike between pri­vacy issues and com­bat­ing ter­ror­ism. Ham­burg was home to three of the Sept. 11, 2001, sui­cide pilots.


Intel­li­gence Shar­ing

The arrange­ment, ini­ti­ated in 1946 between the U.S. and U.K., calls for the U.S. and the oth­er Eng­lish-speak­ing coun­tries to share most of the elec­tronic inter­cepts and some of the oth­er intel­li­gence they col­lect, with the under­stand­ing that they will lim­it their spy­ing on one anoth­er.

“We are not cur­rently look­ing to alter the Five Eyes struc­ture,” said Caitlin Hay­den, a spokes­woman for the White House’s Nation­al Secu­rity Coun­cil, in an e‑mailed state­ment. “But we remain open to dis­cus­sions with our close allies and part­ners, includ­ing Ger­many, about how we can bet­ter coor­di­nate our intel­li­gence efforts.”

Post­war Ger­many has had a more mod­est intel­li­gence estab­lish­ment than the U.S. or U.K., focused large­ly on the for­mer East Ger­many and Sovi­et Union and on ter­ror­ist groups. Ger­man offi­cials balked at expand­ing their col­lec­tion and shar­ing under such an unwrit­ten arrange­ment, accord­ing to the U.S. offi­cial.

The alle­ga­tions of snoop­ing have par­tic­u­lar res­o­nance for Merkel, who lived for 35 years in com­mu­nist East Ger­many and who, as the daugh­ter of a Protes­tant pas­tor, endured spe­cial scruti­ny from the state-secu­ri­ty ser­vice, the Stasi.

Big ’If’

While German‑U.S. rela­tions dipped dur­ing the 2003 Iraq war when Merkel’s pre­de­ces­sor, Ger­hard Schroed­er, refused to join Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s coali­tion against Sad­dam Hus­sein, ties improved under Merkel. She was award­ed the Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom by Oba­ma in 2011.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest declined to com­ment on the details of the alle­ga­tions, telling reporters at the begin­ning of the week that accu­sa­tions over spy­ing were sub­ject to a “a big ‘if’.”

“We high­ly val­ue the close work­ing rela­tion­ship we have with the Ger­mans on a wide range of issues,” Earnest said, “but par­tic­u­larly on secu­rity and intel­li­gence mat­ters.”

U.S. law­mak­ers, includ­ing some fre­quently crit­i­cal of Oba­ma, have been sim­i­larly ret­i­cent.

Law­mak­ers’ Con­cerns

“I don’t know how much the admin­is­tra­tion could have done to defuse this,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Royce, the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can who heads the House For­eign Affairs Com­mit­tee, said yes­ter­day at a break­fast with reporters host­ed by the Chris­t­ian Sci­ence Mon­i­tor. “Giv­en the cir­cum­stances, the admin­is­tra­tion is attempt­ing at this time to deal with the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, and I’m hope­ful that they’re suc­cess­ful.”

Sen­a­tor Mark Udall, a Col­orado Demo­c­rat and Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee mem­ber, has told reporters that he was eager to learn more about the sit­u­a­tion at a clas­si­fied brief­ing for the pan­el mem­bers next week.

“I am con­cerned that we’re send­ing the wrong mes­sage to a key ally,” Udall said.

Before the cur­rent ten­sions, the U.S. and Ger­many had a his­tory of exten­sive intel­li­gence coop­er­a­tion. For many years, much of U.S. elec­tronic spy­ing on Iran was con­ducted out of a CIA sta­tion in Frank­furt known as Tefran, accord­ing to a for­mer U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cial who described the coop­er­a­tion on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

Review Agree­ments

A num­ber of peo­ple in the U.S. gov­ern­ment say that, more than two decades after the Cold War end­ed, it’s time to con­sider agree­ments with more coun­tries to help track ter­ror­ists, weapons pro­lif­er­a­tion and espi­onage, accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials who asked not to be iden­ti­fied.

They said the con­flict with Ger­many also has under­scored con­cern that intel­li­gence agen­cies lack any good risk-assess­ment mod­el to judge the ben­e­fits of oper­a­tions against friend­ly pow­ers against the poten­tial risks.

“This is so stu­pid,” Ger­man Finance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, Germany’s longest-serv­ing law­maker, said July 9, reflect­ing frus­tra­tion and amaze­ment about the turn of events in U.S.-German rela­tions.

Schaeu­ble, who helped nego­ti­ate Ger­man reuni­fi­ca­tion 25 years ago this year, said, “It makes you want to cry.”

2b. In yet anoth­er exam­ple of the con­sum­mate hypocrisy man­i­fest­ed by Ger­many and the EU, it now emerges that Ger­many mon­i­tored phone calls by both John Ker­ry and Hillary Clin­ton.

Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency eaves­dropped on calls made by U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry and his pre­de­ces­sor Hillary Clin­ton, Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel report­ed Sat­ur­day.

The respect­ed news week­ly report­ed that the agency, known by its Ger­man acronym BND, tapped a satel­lite phone con­ver­sa­tion Ker­ry made in 2013 as part of its sur­veil­lance of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in the Mid­dle East. The agency also record­ed a con­ver­sa­tion between Clin­ton and for­mer U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­er­al Kofi Annan a year ear­lier, Der Spiegel claimed.

The mag­a­zine didn’t give a source for its infor­ma­tion, but said the calls were col­lected acci­den­tally, that the three offi­cials weren’t direct­ly tar­geted, and the record­ings were ordered destroyed imme­di­ately. In Clinton’s case, the call report­edly took place on the same “fre­quency” as a ter­ror sus­pect, accord­ing to Der Spiegel.

The tap­ping of Clinton’s call was report­ed Fri­day by Ger­man pub­lic broad­caster ARD and Munich dai­ly Sued­deutsche Zeitung.

If true, the rev­e­la­tions would be embar­rass­ing for the Ger­man gov­ern­ment, which has spent months com­plain­ing to Wash­ing­ton about alleged Amer­i­can spy activ­ity in Ger­many. Last year Ger­man media reports based on doc­u­ments leaked by for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den prompt­ed a sharp rebuke from Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, who was alleged­ly among the U.S. intel­li­gence agency’s tar­gets.

A spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Berlin and the State Depart­ment in Wash­ing­ton declined to com­ment on the lat­est reports.

In its report Sat­ur­day, Der Spiegel also cit­ed a con­fi­den­tial 2009 BND doc­u­ment list­ing fel­low NATO mem­ber Turkey as a tar­get for Ger­man intel­li­gence gath­er­ing.

The Ger­many intel­li­gence agency didn’t imme­di­ately respond to a request for com­ment Sat­ur­day.

2c. Here’s an inter­est­ing twist to the recent uproar over the BND spy that was caught sell­ing secrets to the CIA (lead­ing to the expul­sion of the CIA chief in Ger­many): One of the doc­u­ments the BND agent–Markus R–sold to the CIA was the tran­script of the record­ed phone calls that the BND picked up between Hillary Clin­ton and Kofi Annan when Annan was giv­ing Hillary a brief­ing fol­low­ing nego­ti­a­tions with Syr­ia.

After the chem­i­cal weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of dis­cus­sion of Syr­ian offi­cial con­ver­sa­tions picked up by Ger­man intel­li­gence, and both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were appar­ently get­ting picked up while they were fly­ing over con­flict areas. So the CIA knew these satel­lite phone calls were get­ting picked up by the BND. Note that 2012 phone call between Clin­ton and Kofi Annan report­edly involved a brief­ing of Annan’s nego­ti­a­tions with Syr­ia. Also note that Annan announced his res­ig­na­tion as the envoy to Syr­ia in ear­ly August, 2012 and that Markus R. approached the CIA via email with his offer to sell the doc­u­ments in 2012.

If true, that would sug­gest that the CIA knew these phone calls were get­ting picked up by 2012, and yet the “acci­den­tal” cap­ture of Clinton’s and Kerry’s phone con­ver­sa­tions kept tak­ing place while they fly­ing over con­flict areas.

Those iner­cept­ed calls involved quite a bit of dis­cus­sion over how to address the Syr­ian chem­i­cal weapons sit­u­a­tion.

 The Ger­man For­eign Intel­li­gence Agency has admit­ted tap­ping “at least one” phone call each by cur­rent U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry and then-Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton while they were aboard Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment jets, accord­ing to Ger­man media reports.

The reports claim Kerry’s inter­cepted com­mu­ni­ca­tion was a satel­lite phone call from the Mid­dle East in 2013. Clinton’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion was also a satel­lite call, in 2012, and was report­edly to then-Unit­ed Nations Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Kofi Annan. Both calls were report­ed to have been inter­cepted acci­den­tally while Ger­man intel­li­gence was tar­get­ing ter­ror sus­pects in the Mid­dle East and north­ern Africa.

The intel­li­gence agency (the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst or BND) told Ger­man media that ter­ror groups often use the same fre­quen­cies that the sec­re­taries’ phone calls were made over, so the calls were picked up. The calls were among what the Ger­man news­pa­per Sud­deutsche Zeitung said intel­li­gence sources described as sev­eral cas­es of U.S. offi­cial phone calls being picked up acci­den­tally dur­ing anti-ter­ror com­mu­ni­ca­tions mon­i­tor­ing.

The BND is the Ger­man equiv­a­lent of the Amer­i­can Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency. Ger­man-Amer­i­can rela­tions have chilled in the past year — since for­mer Nation­al Secu­rity Agency work­er Edward Snow­den began leak­ing doc­u­ments detail­ing the extent of America’s glob­al elec­tronic spy­ing and eaves­drop­ping pro­grams. Media reports about Snowden’s leaked doc­u­ments led to the rev­e­la­tion that Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s pri­vate cell­phone had been tappedsince the years when she was a low­er rank­ing Ger­man min­is­ter, and con­tin­u­ing at least until the sum­mer of 2013.

The spy scan­dal includes the elec­tronic spy­ing on mil­lions of pri­vate emails and elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions, the tap­ping of offi­cial phones and even the hir­ing of Ger­man offi­cials to act as Amer­i­can agents and pass on secret Ger­man gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion.

The news reports out­raged Ger­mans, lead­ing to favourable atti­tudes about the Unit­ed States falling to their low­est lev­els in years and cre­at­ing a pub­lic and pri­vate sense of mis­trust. Merkel has repeat­edly called the U.S. spy pro­gram a breach of trust and not­ed that “friends don’t spy on friends.”

In a twist that con­nects this tale to the broad­er spy­ing scan­dal, the new reports note that after Clinton’s phone call was picked up, an order from the BND lead­er­ship was sent out to delete the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. But the Ger­man charged with delet­ing the con­ver­sa­tion was Markus R, who has been charged with sell­ing 218 secret offi­cial doc­u­ments to U.S. intel­li­gence and, rather than delet­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, sold the tran­script to his Amer­i­can con­tacts. Markus R, who under Ger­man law can­not be ful­ly iden­ti­fied unless he is con­victed, alleged­ly made a total of €25,000, or about $32,500, by sell­ing the doc­u­ments to the CIA.

He has been charged with spy­ing for a for­eign intel­li­gence agency.

The BND denied that there was any sys­tem­atic phone tap­ping of U.S. offi­cials while admit­ting oth­er phone calls had been swept up. Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cials have told Ger­man media that the fre­quen­cies the Amer­i­can offi­cials use are also favourites of ter­ror groups in north­ern Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Both Kerry’s and Clinton’s phone calls were picked up while they were fly­ing over con­flict areas. The Ger­man phone-tap­ping pro­gram in the Mid­dle East is well known to U.S. offi­cials. Dur­ing the Syr­ian con­flict, and par­tic­u­larly after the chem­i­cal weapons attacks of August 2013, there was quite a bit of dis­cus­sion of Syr­ian offi­cial con­ver­sa­tions picked up by Ger­man intel­li­gence.


3. In relat­ed news, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment just signed a new “no spy” agree­ment. But it wasn’t with anoth­er nation. It was a no spy agree­ment with Black­berry in exchange for allow­ing Black­berry buy Ger­man secu­rity firm Secus­mart (which pro­vides secu­rity for Merkel’s phone), where Black­berry agrees to not share pri­vate infor­ma­tion with any for­eign gov­ern­ments and Germany’s intel­li­gences ser­vices get to audit Blackberry’s source code:

“Ger­man Gov­ern­ment Says “Ja” to BlackBerry’s Acqui­si­tion of Secus­mart” by Cyrus Fari­varArs Tech­nica; 11/28/2014.

The Ger­man gov­ern­ment has signed off BlackBerry’s acqui­si­tion of the Ger­man com­pany Secus­mart, accord­ing to local media. (Google Trans­late).

Secus­mart is the com­pany that devel­ops soft­ware and hard­ware to pro­tect gov­ern­ment phones, includ­ing the “Merkel Phone” used by Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. She moved to a more secure device after it came out that the Nation­al Secu­rity Agency had been [alleged­ly] mon­i­tor­ing her com­mu­ni­ca­tions.


Back in July 2014, the Cana­dian hand­set mak­er announced that it would acquire the Düs­sel­dorf-based com­pa­ny.

In order to get Berlin’s approval, Black­Berry appar­ently had to agree to a num­ber of gov­ern­ment demands. It was required to give full access of its source code to the the Ger­man infor­ma­tion secu­rity agency, known by its Ger­man acronym, BSI.

Fur­ther, Berlin stip­u­lated that Secusmart’s devel­op­ment would con­tinue to take place in Ger­many, and a “bind­ing” agree­ment dic­tates that Black­Berry would not share pri­vate infor­ma­tion with for­eign gov­ern­ments or intel­li­gence agen­cies.

Nei­ther Black­Berry nor the Ger­man gov­ern­ment gave any fur­ther com­ment to Ger­man press.

4.  And in oth­er spy­ing-relat­ed news...

“BND Spied on Ger­mans Liv­ing Abroad”; TheLocal.de; 11/28/2014.

The Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND), Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice, spied on some cit­i­zens liv­ing abroad, a for­mer lawyer for the spies told MPs on Thurs­day.

Dr Ste­fan Bur­baum, who worked at the BND from 2000 to 2005, said that some Ger­mans were tar­geted as “office hold­ers”, a legal loop­hole the spies used to cir­cum­vent the law that pro­tects Ger­mans cit­i­zens from being spied on by its own intel­li­gence agency.

Nor­mally, the intel­li­gence agen­cies must over­come high legal hur­dles laid out in the so-called “G10 law” to spy on Ger­man cit­i­zens, includ­ing when they live abroad.

Oth­er­wise, infor­ma­tion regard­ing Ger­man cit­i­zens has to be fil­tered out from any for­eign com­mu­ni­ca­tions inter­cepted by the BND.

But the Ger­man spies argue that a cit­i­zen work­ing for a for­eign com­pany abroad is only pro­tected in his pri­vate life, not in his pro­fes­sional com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Bur­baum told the Bun­destag inquiry com­mit­tee into Nation­al Secu­rity Agency (NSA) mass spy­ing.

“The office hold­er is the legal per­son,” Bur­baum said. “It’s a small excep­tion. But a Ger­man cit­i­zen can func­tion as an office hold­er in a for­eign orga­ni­za­tion.

“The deci­sive thing is whether he’s com­mu­ni­cat­ing as a cit­i­zen or as an office hold­er.”

“This con­struct of an office hold­er is just as absurd in prac­tice as it appears in the law,” Kon­stan­tin von Notz of the Green par­ty said.

Fur­ther, for­eign­ers’ com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­ducted abroad are not pro­tected, even if they are in con­tact with Ger­man peo­ple or work for a Ger­man com­pa­ny.

MPs from the Social Demo­c­ra­tic (SPD), Green and Left (Linke) par­ties all crit­i­cized the BND’s abil­ity to oper­ate in a “law­less zone” when it came to spy­ing on for­eign­ers.

Under the “G10 Law” the BND is also allowed access to data from Ger­man tele­coms firms to search for specif­i­cally iden­ti­fied sus­pi­cious traf­fic.

But Bur­baum told the MPs that the BND reg­u­larly retains traf­fic which it had not received spe­cific per­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate which it col­lects dur­ing such trawls.

In this way, access acquired under the “G10 law” becomes a “foot in the door” to oth­er­wise closed-off sources of data, Bur­baum said.


5.   More about how BND and  oth­er Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vices skirt Ger­man law.

“BND Data Pro­tec­tion Offi­cer Tells How Work with NSA Trumps Ger­man Law” by Lisa Cas­pari [Die Zeit]; World­Meet­sUs; 10/13/2014.

The For­eign Intel­li­gence Ser­vice’s data pro­tec­tion offi­cer told the Bun­destag’s NSA Com­mit­tee of Inquiry about an argu­ment she had with her boss Ger­hard Schindler. Her con­cerns fell on deaf ears.

For a ful­ly-qual­i­fied lawyer, Dr. F. cer­tain­ly has an unusu­al job. For the past nine years she has worked for the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst [Fed­er­al Intel­li­gence Ser­vice or BND] and for the past two-and-half-years as the BND’s data pro­tec­tion offi­cer. She reports direct­ly to BND Pres­i­dent Pres­i­dent Ger­hard Schindler, and her duty sta­tion is Berlin.

As stip­u­lat­ed by her employ­er, com­mit­tee mem­bers weren’t pro­vid­ed with more detailed per­son­al infor­ma­tion, such as Dr. F.‘s full name, for exam­ple. Nev­er­the­less, the state­ment of the secret ser­vice employ­ee before the Bud­estag’s NSA Com­mit­tee of Inquiry on Oct. 9 was quite inter­est­ing, as it revealed the seri­ous­ness, or rather lack there­of, with which the BND has for many years treat­ed — and con­tin­ues to treat — the issue of data pro­tec­tion. . . .

. . . . The dis­pute cen­tered on Bad Aib­ling Sta­tion, where Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cers cap­ture and ana­lyze satel­lite data from abroad — tele­phone calls in Afghanistan and Pak­istan, for exam­ple. Mem­bers of Amer­i­can intel­li­gence attached to the NSA are also sta­tioned on the grounds.

Accord­ing the tes­ti­mo­ny of Dr. F., BND Pres­i­dent Schindler con­sid­ers the satel­lite data as exist­ing large­ly in a legal vac­u­um as it is gath­ered from space where Ger­man law does not apply. . . .

6. The EU’s net neu­tral­ity laws just got the kiss of death:

“Angela Merkel Argues Against Net Neu­tral­ity, Calls for Spe­cial Access Fast Lane” by Dante D’Orazio; The Verge; 12/6/2014.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel has laid out her vision for the future of the inter­net, and net neu­tral­ity pro­po­nents won’t be pleased. In com­ments on Thurs­day in Berlin, Merkel argued for a two-lane inter­net. One lane for “spe­cial,” high pri­or­ity ser­vice, and anoth­er that’s meant to resem­ble the inter­net as it exists today.

While sup­port­ers of net neu­tral­ity argue that it is key to the con­tin­ued growth of the inter­net, Merkel believes just the oppo­site. She argues that fast lanes are nec­es­sary for the devel­op­ment of new, advanced uses of the inter­net, like telemed­i­cine or dri­ver­less cars. Accord­ing to Merkel, with­out guar­an­teed, fast-access inter­net con­nec­tions, such inno­va­tions won’t come to mar­ket.

It’s not clear how such a two-lane sys­tem would be imple­mented or reg­u­lated. For instance, it’s unknown if there would be lim­its on what sort of com­pa­nies could pay for access to fast-lane inter­net. A report from Frank­furter All­ge­meine cites sources inside the Ger­man gov­ern­ment who say that on-demand inter­net video stream­ing ser­vices would be among the com­pa­nies that would be able to pay for access for high-speed ser­vice.

The Euro­pean Union cur­rently man­dates true net neu­tral­ity, though dis­cus­sions have been under­way for the future of inter­net reg­u­la­tion. Merkel believes that her posi­tion is a mid­dle ground, but the idea that the gen­eral traf­fic lane will oper­ate under net neu­tral­ity depends entire­ly on how much band­width it receives from inter­net providers.If the main traf­fic lane isn’t fast, and any com­pany can opt for fast-lane access, com­pa­nies will like­ly find it nec­es­sary to pay up for direct access just to com­pete — the exact oppo­site of net neu­tral­i­ty.

7. Next, we present an arti­cle that acts as a reminder that the new EU anti-monop­oly reg­u­la­tory par­a­digm of forc­ing Google to sub­mit its search results algo­rithms to reg­u­la­tor review is going to get might messy in a sin­gu­lar way that could com­pli­cate patents and copy­right laws in all sorts of strange ways. Keep in mind that Google’s search engine still forms the core its busi­ness, with Google search ads bring­ing in a major­ity of Google’s $60 bil­lion rev­enues, mak­ing it unlike­ly that they will sur­ren­der the keys to the king­dom.

“Ger­many Just Asked Google To Do The Impos­si­ble: Reveal Its Secret Search Algo­rithm” by James Cook; Busi­ness Insid­er; 9/16/2014.

Ger­man jus­tice min­is­ter Heiko Maas is call­ing on Google to become more trans­par­ent by dis­clos­ing exact­ly how it ranks search results.

This, of course, will sim­ply nev­er hap­pen. The algo­rithm is the heart of Google, the source of all its wealth and pow­er as the planet’s best index of knowl­edge. Google is just nev­er going to give that up. CEO Lar­ry Page will fight to the death.

Nonethe­less, in an inter­view with the Finan­cial Times, Maas explains that Ger­many is unhap­py with the search giant’s actions in Europe and wants it to reveal the details of its search algo­rithm in the inter­ests of con­sumer pro­tec­tion.

Google Search remains the most impor­tant part of Google’s busi­ness, with adver­tis­ing on the plat­form form­ing the major­ity of its $60 bil­lion in annu­al rev­enue. But now, Germany’s gov­ern­ment has esca­lated its antitrust case against the com­pany by request­ing that Google pub­lishes how web­sites are ranked on Google Search.

Google has appar­ently pushed back against the request, claim­ing that pub­lish­ing the search engine algo­rithm would mean reveal­ing its busi­ness secrets and open­ing up the ser­vice to exploita­tion by spam­mers.


8. Lets hope Google isn’t cor­rect in pre­dict­ing that reveal­ing its secrets would result in spam­mers using Google’s search secrets because that would be scary.

But also keep in mind that even casu­al search algo­rithm dis­clo­sure regimes by the EU or any­one else might get real­ly com­pli­cated in the future. So com­pli­cated that only a super AI will be able to keep up with the reg­u­la­tory over­sight work­load. Why? Because one of the first project Google is assign­ing its “Deep­Mind” self-learn­ing super AI project to is devel­op­ing bet­ter and bet­ter search algo­rithms, and as Deep­Mind learns more about self-learn­ing, it’s only going to get bet­ter at it.

“Arti­fi­cially Intel­li­gent Robot Sci­en­tists Could Be Next Project for Google’s AI Firm” by Sage Laz­zaro; BetaBeat; 12/03/2014.

In the future, humans may not be the only ones con­duct­ing lab exper­i­ments.

In late Octo­ber, we wrote about the Neur­al Tur­ing Machine, a Google com­puter so smart it can pro­gram itself. In the time since, it’s become clear that this is only the begin­ning and we should expect a lot more from Deep­Mind Tech­nolo­gies, the lit­tle-known start­up acquired by Google who devel­oped the human-like com­puter and sports the mis­sion “Solve intel­li­gence.”

In dis­cussing Deep­Mind Technologies’s delve into the future of com­put­ers with MIT, founder Demis Has­s­abis detailed the company’s research and men­tioned that he wants to cre­ate “AI sci­en­tists.”

He explained that although they’re cur­rently work­ing on some small­er AI activ­i­ties like search­ing for ways to apply Deep­Mind tech­niques to exist­ing Google prod­ucts such as Search and YouTube rec­om­men­da­tions, his plans for the future are big­ger than a bet­ter search engine. He dreams of cre­at­ing arti­fi­cially intel­li­gent “sci­en­tists” that could devel­op and test their own hypothe­ses in the lab. He men­tioned that there’s also a future for DeepMind’s soft­ware in robot­ics.

“One rea­son we don’t have more robots doing more help­ful things is that they’re usu­ally pre­pro­grammed,” he told MIT. “They’re very bad at deal­ing with the unex­pected or learn­ing new things.”


9. A pipeline explo­sion high­lights the dig­i­tal brave new world into which we have entered.

“Mys­te­ri­ous ’08 Turkey Pipeline Blast Opened New Cyber­war Era” by Jor­dan Robert­son and Michael Riley; Bloomberg; 12/10/2014.

The pipeline was out­fit­ted with sen­sors and cam­eras to mon­i­tor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspi­an Sea to the Mediter­ranean. The blast that blew it out of com­mis­sion didn’t trig­ger a sin­gle dis­tress sig­nal.

That was bewil­der­ing, as was the cam­eras’ fail­ure to cap­ture the com­bus­tion in east­ern Turkey. But inves­ti­ga­tors shared their find­ings with­in a tight cir­cle. The Turk­ish gov­ern­ment pub­licly blamed a mal­func­tion, Kur­dish sep­a­ratists claimed cred­it and BP Plc (BP/) had the line run­ning again in three weeks. The explo­sion that lit up the night sky over Refahiye, a town known for its hon­ey farms, seemed to be for­got­ten.

It wasn’t. For west­ern intel­li­gence agen­cies, the blowout was a water­shed event. Hack­ers had shut down alarms, cut off com­­mu­ni­­ca- ­tions and super-pres­sur­ized the crude oil in the line, accord­ing to four peo­ple famil­iar with the inci­dent who asked not to be iden­ti­fied because details of the inves­ti­ga­tion are con­fi­den­tial. The main weapon at valve sta­tion 30 on Aug. 5, 2008, was a key­board.

The rev­e­la­tion “rewrites the his­tory of cyber­war,” said Derek Reveron, a pro­fes­sor of nation­al secu­rity affairs at the U.S. Naval War Col­lege in New­port, Rhode Island.

Coun­tries have been lay­ing the ground­work for cyber­war oper­a­tions for years, and com­pa­nies have been hit recent­ly with dig­i­tal broad­sides bear­ing hall­marks of gov­ern­ment spon­sor­ship. Sony Corp.’s net­work was raid­ed by hack­ers believed to be aligned with North Korea, and sources have said JPMor­gan Chase & Co. blamed an August assault on Russ­ian cyber­spies. Secu­rity researchers just uncov­ered what they said was a cam­paign by Iran­ian hack­ers that tar­geted com­mer­cial air­lines, look­ing for vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could be used in phys­i­cal attacks.

Ener­gy Pol­i­tics

The Refahiye explo­sion occurred two years before Stuxnet, the com­puter worm that in 2010 crip­pled Iran’s nuclear-enrich­ment pro­gram, wide­ly believed to have been deployed by Israel and the U.S. It turns out the Baku-Tbil­isi-Cey­han pipeline hack­ers were ahead of them. The chief sus­pect, accord­ing to U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cials, is Rus­sia.

The sab­o­tage of the BTC line — which fol­lows a route through the for­mer Sovi­et Union that the U.S. mapped out over Russ­ian objec­tions — marked anoth­er chap­ter in the bel­liger­ent ener­gy pol­i­tics of Eura­sia. Days after the explo­sion, Russ­ian fight­er jets dropped bombs near the line in neigh­bor­ing Geor­gia. Alexan­der Dug­in, an influ­en­tial advo­cate of Russ­ian expan­sion­ism and at the time an advis­er to the Russ­ian par­lia­ment, was quot­ed in a Turk­ish news­pa­per declar­ing the BTC was “dead.”

Kinet­ic Effects

The obit­u­ary was pre­ma­ture, but the attack proved to U.S. offi­cials that they were right to be con­cerned about the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of pipelines that snake for hun­dreds of thou­sands of miles across Europe and North Amer­ica. Nation­al Secu­rity Agency experts had been warn­ing the lines could be blown up from a dis­tance, with­out the both­er of con­ven­tional weapons. The attack was evi­dence oth­er nations had the tech­nol­ogy to wage a new kind of war, three cur­rent and for­mer U.S. offi­cials said.

“The tim­ing real­ly is the sig­nif­i­cance,” said Chris Blask, chair­man of the Indus­trial Con­trol Sys­tem Infor­ma­tion Shar­ing and Analy­sis Cen­ter, which works with util­i­ties and pipeline com­pa­nies. “Stuxnet was dis­cov­ered in 2010 and this was obvi­ously deployed before that. This is anoth­er point on the time­line” in the young his­tory of cyber­war.

U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies believe the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind the Refahiye explo­sion, accord­ing to two of the peo­ple briefed on the inves­ti­ga­tion. The evi­dence is cir­cum­stan­tial, they said, based on the pos­si­ble motive and the lev­el of sophis­ti­ca­tion. The attack­ers also left behind a tan­ta­liz­ing clue.

Infrared Cam­era

Although as many as 60 hours of sur­veil­lance video were erased by the hack­ers, a sin­gle infrared cam­era not con­nected to the same net­work cap­tured images of two men with lap­top com­put­ers walk­ing near the pipeline days before the explo­sion, accord­ing to one of the peo­ple, who has reviewed the video. The men wore black mil­i­tary-style uni­forms with­out insignias, sim­i­lar to the garb worn by spe­cial forces troops.

“Giv­en Russia’s strate­gic inter­est, there will always be the ques­tion of whether the coun­try had a hand in it,” said Emi­ly Stromquist, an ener­gy ana­lyst for Eura­sia Group, a polit­i­cal risk firm based in Wash­ing­ton.

Niko­lay Lyaschenko, a spokesman for the Russ­ian Embassy in Wash­ing­ton, didn’t respond to two e‑mails and a phone call.

Eleven com­pa­nies — includ­ing major­i­ty-own­er BP, a sub­sidiary of the State Oil Com­pany of Azer­bai­jan, Chevron Corp. and Norway’s Sta­toil ASA (STL) — built the line, which has car­ried more than two bil­lion bar­rels of crude since open­ing in 2006.

Cir­cum­vent­ing Rus­sia

It starts in Azer­bai­jan, tra­verses Geor­gia and then enters Turkey, end­ing at the port city of Cey­han. It was rout­ed south to cir­cum­vent Rus­sia, a blow to that country’s aims to reassert con­trol over Cen­tral Asia, a major pipeline delib­er­ately built out­side Russ­ian ter­ri­tory to car­ry crude from the Caspi­an.

Tra­vers­ing strate­gic, polit­i­cally unset­tled ter­rain, the line was built to be one of the most secure in the world. The 3‑foot 6‑inch diam­e­ter pipe is buried under­ground and punc­tu­ated by fenced valve sta­tions designed to iso­late sec­tions in case of emer­gency and to con­tain leaks.

Accord­ing to inves­ti­ga­tors, every mile was mon­i­tored by sen­sors. Pres­sure, oil flow and oth­er crit­i­cal indi­ca­tors were fed to a cen­tral con­trol room via a wire­less mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem. In an extra mea­sure, they were also sent by satel­lite.

The explo­sion, at around 11 p.m. on a warm sum­mer night, was spec­tac­u­lar. Res­i­dents described feel­ing the heat a half mile away, and patients at a near­by hos­pi­tal report­ed hear­ing a thun­der­ous boom.

First Mys­tery

Almost imme­di­ately, the Kur­dis­tan Work­ers’ Par­ty, or PKK, an armed sep­a­ratist group in Turkey, claimed cred­it. It made sense because of the PKK’s his­tory of bomb­ing pipelines. The Turk­ish government’s claim of mechan­i­cal fail­ure, on the oth­er hand, was wide­ly dis­puted in media reports. Hil­mi Guler, then Turkey’s ener­gy min­is­ter, said at the time there was no evi­dence of sab­o­tage. Nei­ther he nor offi­cials at the Ener­gy Min­istry respond­ed to requests for com­ment.

Huseyin Sagir, a spokesman for Botas Inter­na­tional Ltd., the state-run com­pany that oper­ates the pipeline in Turkey, said the line’s com­puter sys­tems hadn’t been tam­pered with. “We have nev­er expe­ri­enced any kind of sig­nal jam­ming attack or tam­per­ing on the com­mu­ni­ca­tion lines, or com­puter sys­tems,” Sagir said in an e‑mail. He didn’t respond to ques­tions about what caused the explo­sion. BP spokesman Toby Odone referred ques­tions to Botas.

The BTC was shut down because of what BP referred to in its 2008 annu­al report sim­ply as a fire.

Mali­cious Pro­gram

The inves­ti­ga­tors — from Turkey, the U.K., Azer­bai­jan and oth­er coun­tries — went qui­etly about their busi­ness. The first mys­tery they set out to solve was why the elab­o­rate sys­tem in place to detect leaks of oil or a fire didn’t work as planned.

Instead of receiv­ing dig­i­tal alerts from sen­sors placed along the line, the con­trol room didn’t learn about the blast until 40 min­utes after it hap­pened, from a secu­rity work­er who saw the flames, accord­ing to a per­son who worked on the probe.

As inves­ti­ga­tors fol­lowed the trail of the failed alarm sys­tem, they found the hack­ers’ point of entry was an unex­pected one: the sur­veil­lance cam­eras them­selves.

The cam­eras’ com­mu­ni­ca­tion soft­ware had vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties the hack­ers used to gain entry and move deep into the inter­nal net­work, accord­ing to the peo­ple briefed on the mat­ter.

Once inside, the attack­ers found a com­puter run­ning on a Win­dows oper­at­ing sys­tem that was in charge of the alarm-man­age­ment net­work, and placed a mali­cious pro­gram on it. That gave them the abil­ity to sneak back in when­ever they want­ed.

Exten­sive Recon­nais­sance

The cen­tral ele­ment of the attack was gain­ing access to the oper­a­tional con­trols to increase the pres­sure with­out set­ting off alarms. Because of the line’s design, the hack­ers could manip­u­late the pres­sure by crack­ing into small indus­trial com­put­ers at a few valve sta­tions with­out hav­ing to hack the main con­trol room.

The pres­ence of the attack­ers at the site could mean the sab­o­tage was a blend­ed attack, using a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal tech­niques. The super-high pres­sure may have been enough on its own to cre­ate the explo­sion, accord­ing to two of the peo­ple famil­iar with the inci­dent. No evi­dence of a phys­i­cal bomb was found.

Hav­ing per­formed exten­sive recon­nais­sance on the com­puter net­work, the infil­tra­tors tam­pered with the units used to send alerts about mal­func­tions and leaks back to the con­trol room. The back-up satel­lite sig­nals failed, which sug­gested to the inves­ti­ga­tors that the attack­ers used sophis­ti­cated jam­ming equip­ment, accord­ing to the peo­ple famil­iar with the probe.

Inves­ti­ga­tors com­pared the time-stamp on the infrared image of the two peo­ple with lap­tops to data logs that showed the com­puter sys­tem had been probed by an out­sider. It was an exact match, accord­ing to the peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

‘Ter­ror­ism Act’

Years lat­er, BP claimed in doc­u­ments filed in a legal dis­pute that it wasn’t able to meet ship­ping con­tracts after the blast due to “an act of ter­ror­ism.”

The explo­sion caused more than 30,000 bar­rels of oil to spill in an area above a water aquifer and cost BP and its part­ners $5 mil­lion a day in tran­sit tar­iffs dur­ing the clo­sure, accord­ing to com­mu­ni­ca­tions between BP and its bankers cit­ed in “The Oil Road,” a book about the pipeline.

Some of the worst dam­age was felt by the State Oil Fund of the Repub­lic of Azer­bai­jan, which lost $1 bil­lion in export rev­enue while the line was shut down, accord­ing to Jamala Aliye­va, a spokes­woman for the fund.

A pipeline bomb­ing may fit the pro­file of the PKK, which spe­cial­izes in extor­tion, drug smug­gling and assaults on for­eign com­pa­nies, said Didem Akyel Collinsworth, an Istan­bul-based ana­lyst for the Inter­na­tional Cri­sis Group. But she said the PKK doesn’t have advanced hack­ing capa­bil­i­ties. “That’s not their modus operan­di,” she said. “It’s always been very phys­i­cal, very basic insur­gency stuff.”

Poten­tial Rivals

U.S. spy agen­cies probed the BTC blast inde­pen­dently, gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion from for­eign com­mu­ni­ca­tions inter­cepts and oth­er sources, accord­ing to one of the peo­ple famil­iar with the inquiry. Amer­i­can intel­li­gence offi­cials believe the PKK — which accord­ing to leaked State Depart­ment cables has received arms and intel­li­gence from Rus­sia — may have arranged in advance with the attack­ers to take cred­it, the per­son said.

The U.S. was inter­ested in more than just motive. The Pen­ta­gon at the time was assess­ing the cyber capa­bil­i­ties of poten­tial rivals, as well as weak­nesses in its own defens­es. Since that attack, both Iran and Chi­na have hacked into U.S. pipeline com­pa­nies and gas util­i­ties, appar­ently to iden­tify vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties that could be exploit­ed lat­er.


10. We con­clude with dis­cus­sion of a brand new spy drone that mim­ics cell­phone tow­ers. As some­thing that could be built in a garage for less than $6,000, it, too,  is indica­tive of the brave, new tech world in which we live. Note that it’s tiny, as well.
“Spy Drone Hacks WiFi Net­works, Lis­tens to Calls” by Erin Van der Bellen; WUSA; 12/12/2014.

It’s small. It’s bright yel­low, and it’s capa­ble of crack­ing Wi-Fi pass­words, eaves­drop­ping on your cell phone calls and read­ing your text mes­sages. It’s an unmanned spy drone and it just land­ed in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

Long-time friends and for­mer Air Force bud­dies, Mike Tassey and Rich Perkins, describe their state-of-the-art cyber drone as hard to take down, hard to see and vir­tu­ally hard to detect.

They built it in a garage, using off the shelf elec­tron­ics to prove a drone can be used to launch cyber-attacks.

It needs a human for take-off and land­ing but once air­borne, it can fly any pre-pro­grammed route pos­ing as a cell phone tow­er and trick­ing wire­less cell phones.

While it’s fly­ing those points, the spy drone has a num­ber of anten­nas for pick­ing up your cell phone con­ver­sa­tion, for pick­ing up blue tooth, and for pick­ing up and mon­i­tor­ing Wi Fi sig­nals.


“We passed tele­phone calls, hacked into net­works, cracked the encryp­tion on Wi-Fi access points all of that sort of evil­ness is pos­si­ble,” said Tassey.

And now their spy drone has land­ed in Wash­ing­ton so every­one can see it.

“I think it’s fan­tas­tic to have an arti­fact like this in the Spy Muse­um,” said Vin­cent Houghton, Inter­na­tional Spy Muse­um Cura­tor.

“It’s the first of its kind, it’s a piece of mod­ern espi­onage equip­ment,” said Houghton. “This is some­thing gov­ern­ments should be doing and per­haps only gov­ern­ment should be doing.

“If two guys from the Mid­west can build this for six-thou­sand dol­lars in a garage, what can Iran do? What can nation states do?” said Rich Perkins.

The drone has a 50 mile range and while its cre­ators chose a cyber-attack test, they say this tech­nol­ogy can be used things like anti-IED mis­sions and search and res­cue oper­a­tions.


9 comments for “FTR #827 Brave New World: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook”

  1. http://www.vanityfair.com/business/2015/01/first-look-media-pierre-omidyar#

    Can First Look Media Make Head­lines That Aren’t About I...
    When a cru­sad­ing bil­lion­aire bankrolls sev­er­al of journalism’s most promi­nent mav­er­icks to cre­ate a inves­tiga­tive news orga­ni­za­tion, it’s a recipe for tur­moil.
    View on http://www.vanityfair.com

    Pre­view by Yahoo

    Omidyar’s track led him to Ari­an­na Huff­in­g­ton, who in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber 2013 had flown to Hawaii to launch Huff­in­g­ton Post Hawaii in part­ner­ship with Omidyar’s own Hon­olu­lu Civ­il Beat, an online inves­tiga­tive news orga­ni­za­tion estab­lished in 2010. Civ­il Beat was cre­at­ed to pro­vide an alter­na­tive to what some saw as the relaxed “alo­ha spir­it” of Hawai­ian jour­nal­ism. The co-founder, Randy Ching, is a for­mer eBay exec­u­tive, and the first edi­tor was John Tem­ple, who had been the edi­tor and pub­lish­er of Denver’s Rocky Moun­tain News and a top edi­tor at The Wash­ing­ton Post. (Both men would fig­ure promi­nent­ly in First Look Media.) Huff­in­g­ton spent three days in Hawaii with Omid­yar, fly­ing togeth­er from island to island for a series of events to cel­e­brate the launch. “Noth­ing was too much,” Huff­in­g­ton remem­bered. “That’s one of the things I love about him.” Dur­ing those three days, Omid­yar says, he began to see Huff­in­g­ton as “a trust­ed friend and advis­er.” In New York, Huff­in­g­ton orga­nized a din­ner at her apart­ment so that he could meet var­i­ous media fig­ures. “It end­ed up being so many peo­ple I had to build a new top for the round table,” Huff­in­g­ton told me. The guests includ­ed Face­book co-founder and New Repub­lic own­er Chris Hugh­es and his hus­band, polit­i­cal hope­ful Sean Eldridge; ProP­ub­li­ca edi­tor Stephen Engel­berg and his wife, author Gabrielle Glaser; adver­tis­ing exec­u­tive and social-strat­e­gy author John Gerze­ma; polit­i­cal and cor­po­rate advis­er Ian Osborne; CBS anchor and inter­view­er Char­lie Rose; and Face­book C.O.O. Sheryl Sand­berg. Omid­yar, Huff­in­g­ton says, wrote copi­ous­ly in a lit­tle black note­book that was “small enough to fit in a woman’s purse.” (Huff­in­g­ton says she has now bought the same kind of note­book to pre­serve a record of inter­est­ing con­ver­sa­tions.) At the din­ner, Omid­yar didn’t divulge his inter­est in launch­ing his own orga­ni­za­tion, but the guests talked about the chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties in dig­i­tal media, and Omidyar’s blood con­tin­ued to warm.

    Soon after, Omid­yar and Huff­in­g­ton flew to Dharam­sala, India, where the Dalai Lama was host­ing a five-day Mind & Life Insti­tute gath­er­ing of Bud­dhist monks and sci­en­tists. Dur­ing the trip, the two dis­cussed the dif­fi­cul­ty of launch­ing a des­ti­na­tion news site. “That train has left the sta­tion,” Huff­in­g­ton says she told him, mean­ing that unlike the Huff­in­g­ton Post, which had launched nine years ear­li­er, when big nich­es were there for the tak­ing, any­thing Omid­yar did would have to rely more on social-media shar­ing to build an audi­ence.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | December 22, 2014, 9:56 am
  2. Here’s an arti­cle from back in July about Black­Ber­ry’s acqui­si­tion of Secus­mart that high­lights some­thing rather impor­tant about Black­Ber­ry’s pur­chase: pur­shas­ing Secus­mart does­n’t just get Black­Ber­ry Secus­mart’s tech­nol­o­gy. Black­Ber­ry also views Secus­mart user Angela Merkel as a “tro­phy” cus­tomer that can help dif­fer­en­ti­ate Black­Ber­ry from its many com­peti­tors in the glob­al secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions mar­ket­place:

    Black­Ber­ry acquires Secus­mart, ups voice secu­ri­ty ante

    Summary:BlackBerry’s acqui­si­tion of Ger­man soft­ware firm Secus­mart is aimed at secur­ing voice and data and putting bet­ter mobile secu­ri­ty in every pres­i­dent and chan­cel­lor’s hand.

    By Lar­ry Dig­nan for Between the Lines | July 29, 2014 — 13:13 GMT (06:13 PDT)

    NEW YORK–BlackBerry said Tues­day that it will acquire Secus­mart, a Ger­man mobile secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny. The pur­chase high­lights how Black­Ber­ry is dou­bling down on the enter­prise as well as mobile secu­ri­ty.

    The two com­pa­nies have been part­ners since 2009. The plan is for Secus­mart, known recent­ly for its anti-eaves­drop­ping soft­ware, is to become a core com­po­nent of Black­Ber­ry’s secu­ri­ty port­fo­lio and enter­prise mobil­i­ty man­age­ment pitch.

    Terms of the deal weren’t dis­closed.

    Black­Ber­ry CEO John Chen announced the deal at the com­pa­ny’s Black­Ber­ry Sum­mit. Secus­mart CEO Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle said that the com­pa­ny’s infor­mal goal is to put its soft­ware in the hands of every chan­cel­lor and pres­i­dent in the world.

    “There should be no need to wait to get to a secure land­line,” said Quelle. Quelle’s point is that voice needs to be bet­ter secured. He point­ed out that any call can be mon­i­tored via com­put­er sys­tems or eaves­drop­ping. “It’s easy to lis­ten in and easy to cre­ate tran­scrip­tions,” he said. “You need to pro­tect voice. It’s as impor­tant as Pow­er­Point.”

    The Secus­mart Secu­ri­ty Card is the cen­ter­piece of Secus­mart’s tech­nol­o­gy. The smart card is a mini-com­put­er inte­grat­ed into the micro-SD card. This sys­tem con­tains the NXP Smart­MX P5CT072 cryp­to-con­troller with a PKI coproces­sor for authen­ti­ca­tion. An addi­tion­al high-speed coproces­sor encrypts voice and data com­mu­ni­ca­tion using 128 bit AES. The upshot: Text mes­sages, emails and voice com­mu­ni­ca­tions are secure.r

    Secus­mart has a Black­Ber­ry part­ner­ship with inte­grat­ed secu­ri­ty as well as voice secu­ri­ty soft­ware that runs on mul­ti­ple plat­forms.


    Doing more — to Chen and Black­Ber­ry — revolves around secu­ri­ty and reg­u­lat­ed indus­tries. With the acqui­si­tion of Secus­mart, Black­Ber­ry can boast top secu­ri­ty and ref­er­ence cus­tomers such as Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel.

    The two com­pa­nies have pro­vid­ed Secus­mart-equipped Black­Ber­ry smart­phones to Ger­man gov­ern­ment agen­cies, min­istries and lead­ers.

    Chen acknowl­edged that Black­Ber­ry has had its strug­gles in North Amer­i­ca, but the com­pa­ny’s strat­e­gy is glob­al. Chen said EMEA has been strong, as has Asia.

    Black­Ber­ry’s strat­e­gy with its secu­ri­ty mes­sage as well as tro­phy cus­tomers such as Merkel is to dif­fer­en­ti­ate itself in a crowd­ed mar­ket.

    VMware has acquired Air­Watch. IBM and Apple have forged an alliance that uses Big Blue’s mobile device man­age­ment tools. Cit­rix is a enter­prise mobil­i­ty man­age­ment play­er, as is Microsoft; and there are dozens of oth­er ven­dors rang­ing from Good to Mobile­Iron.

    Black­Ber­ry’s chal­lenge is to con­vince enter­prise buy­ers that the com­pa­ny can man­age and secure their mobile devices, appli­ca­tions and mes­sag­ing.

    The uber-secure mes­sage assumes that secu­ri­ty and man­ag­ing risk will be the win­ning sell­ing point for Black­Ber­ry. After all, if Black­Ber­ry can nail secu­ri­ty for reg­u­lat­ed indus­tries it’ll be good for all enter­pris­es.

    Black­Ber­ry boasts cus­tomers that include all G7 gov­ern­ments, 16 of the G20 gov­ern­ments, 10 out of 10 of the largest glob­al enter­pris­es in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, legal and auto­mo­tive indus­tries, and the five largest oil and gas com­pa­nies. The big ques­tion is whether those gov­ern­ments and enter­pris­es see Black­Ber­ry as a lega­cy provider or inno­va­tion part­ner for the future.


    Here’s the prob­lem: Oth­er EMM play­ers are focused on col­lab­o­ra­tion, doc­u­ment man­age­ment and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty. Every­one from Cit­rix to Microsoft high­lights how mobil­i­ty man­age­ment is also about col­lab­o­ra­tion on the fly. Black­Ber­ry lacks a sto­ry on the col­lab­o­ra­tion and doc­u­ment con­tain­er fronts.

    If enter­prise buy­ers go with the argu­ment that you can nev­er have enough secu­ri­ty and risk man­age­ment, Black­Ber­ry has a pitch. If com­pa­nies believe secu­ri­ty is good enough and col­lab­o­ra­tion is the win, then Black­Ber­ry may strug­gle.

    Black­Ber­ry and Chen’s strat­e­gy appears to cede the col­lab­o­ra­tion argu­ment a bit. There’s a rea­son that Black­Ber­ry is focused on the big four reg­u­lat­ed indus­tries where secu­ri­ty mat­ters more. It remains to be seen if enter­prise lead­ers will buy BES 12 because they want to be as secure as Ger­many’s Angela Merkel.

    As Secus­mart CEO Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle put it, the com­pa­ny’s infor­mal goal is to put its soft­ware in the hands of every chan­cel­lor and pres­i­dent in the world. And now that Black­Ber­ry owns Secus­mart the Secus­mart tech­nol­o­gy is cer­tain­ly poised to spread, espe­cial­ly since the Secus­mart tech­nol­o­gy used by Angela Merkel is intend­ed to be a chief aspect of the new Black­Ber­ry brand­ing attempts.

    But also keep in mind that the above arti­cle was writ­ten before it came out that part of the terms of the Secus­mart acqui­si­tion involve let­ting the BND exam­ine Black­Ber­ry’s source code, which changes the “Merkel-friend­ly” nature of the new brand quite a bit. Because it’s one thing for Black­Ber­ry to tell cus­tomers “even Angela Merkel trust us!” but it’s a very dif­fer­ent kind of sales pitch to tell peo­ple “Angela Merkel trust us because Ger­many’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices got to exam­ine the source code”.

    If there are vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties in the plat­form Ger­many’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices are prob­a­bly know about it. Does that help the brand? Sure, a lot of peo­ple prob­a­bly aren’t going to care about BND spy­ing just as many don’t care about NSA spy­ing or any oth­er intel­li­gence ser­vice. But for a prod­uct that’s tar­get­ing world lead­ers and CEOs, it’s not as if find­ing out the BND gets to go ‘back-door hunt­ing’ on your smart­phone is nec­es­sar­i­ly a prod­uct fea­ture.

    Keep in mind that the Secus­mart tech­nol­o­gy works with Black­Ber­ry’s BES 12 oper­at­ing sys­tem, but it’s not the only Black­Ber­ry phone using that sys­tem. For instance, Boe­ing recent­ly announces its plans to team up with Black­Ber­ry to make a Boeing/BlackBerry self-destruc­t­ing super-secure­phone that will also run on the BES 12 oper­at­ing sys­tem. So will the BND have access to the same BES 12 code used on the Boe­ing phone too?

    It’s all part of the weird emerg­ing glob­al mar­ket­place for gov­ern­ment-proof secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy where if you want to brand some­thing as “secure”, you’d want the best hack­ing orga­ni­za­tions out there to vet it and all those top orga­ni­za­tions with the resources to do the best vet­ting are gov­ern­ment intel­li­gence agen­cies. For instance, will oth­er gov­ern­ments start demand­ing access to Black­Ber­ry source code or oth­er secure man­u­fac­tur­ers? Will it just be large gov­ern­ments with a lot of mar­ket clout?

    Per­haps the idea is to have lots of dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ments vet the same code. Just imag­ine if Chi­na, the US, Rus­sia, and Ger­many all vouched for the same Secus­mart tech­nol­o­gy. Well that would be quite a stamp of approval, would­n’t it? Is that the future of secure tech­nol­o­gy for glob­al lead­ers? Joint vet­ting?

    The German/BlackBerry deal also rais­es an inter­est­ing ques­tion that could com­pli­cate any future efforts to cre­ate a “Germany”-specific brand for inter­net secu­ri­ty and ser­vices: In the post-Snow­den world we have a sit­u­a­tion where Cypher­punks advo­cate “unbreak­able encryp­tion for all!” and gov­ern­ments like Ger­many’s and Brazil’s have tried to ride that anti-NSA wave by plead­ing to set up infra­struc­tures that are NSA-proof, but you nev­er hear about gov­ern­ment plans to imple­ment a Cypher­punk-style regime of unbreak­able encryp­tion that the gov­ern­ments, them­selves, are also unable to break.

    Instead, there’s more a of “you can trust us not to abuse our pow­er over you” mes­sag­ing cam­paign to go along with calls for the devel­op­ment of full-spec­trum domes­tic IT indus­tries to replace the cur­rent US-based stan­dards. That’s cer­tain­ly the case for Ger­many an Brazil. But it’s much more com­pli­cat­ed in Ger­many’s case because there have been calls for both a “Ger­man inter­net” and a “Shen­gen area inter­net” that cov­ers the EU (minus Ire­land and the UK). And if you’re just talk­ing about a Ger­man inter­net it’s just a mat­ter of say­ing “you can trust Ger­many’s intel­li­gence *wink*” but when you’re talk­ing about a Schen­gen Area inter­net you’re now imply­ing that “you can trust Ger­many’s intel­li­gence agen­cies plus all the oth­er EU intel­li­gence agen­cies too”.

    Sure, the “you can trust Ger­many’s intel­li­gence agen­cies” meme is rather laugh­able, but it’s still a much eas­i­er sell to the glob­al pub­lic than the “you can trust the Schen­gen Area intel­li­gence agen­cies. All of them! Real­ly, you can!” meme that’s going to be required to sell the world on the notion that Ger­man-vet­ted secure tech is tru­ly secure as the EU intel­li­gence agen­cies merge into one super-agency.

    It’s all part of what’s going to make the loom­ing pow­er strug­gles over the future of an “EU Intel­li­gence Agency’ poten­tial­ly so dra­mat­ic: as nation­al intel­li­gence ser­vice rep­u­ta­tions become a grow­ing part of the nation­al “brand” (or supra-nation­al brand for the EU) in the realm of dig­i­tal ser­vices and the dig­i­tal econ­o­my, there’s going to be a grow­ing eco­nom­ic incen­tive for “clean­ing house” across all the EU intel­li­gence agen­cies and con­sol­i­dat­ing them for the sake of the “brand”. Cus­tomers won’t have to wor­ry about 26+ sep­a­rate spy agen­cies. Just one EU-super agency. And while that “house clean­ing” could result in some over­due reforms and dis­clo­sures, it’s also going to be a great oppor­tu­ni­ty for the largest EU mem­bers to effec­tive­ly take over the intel­li­gence agency roles of their small­er neigh­bors. For the sake of the “brand” and there­fore the econ­o­my.

    It’s pret­ty unde­ni­able that the prof­its and pow­er would be enor­mous if a gov­ern­ment can brand itself as super-secure com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­o­gy-friend­ly so we should prob­a­bly expect a lot more of these kinds of brand­ing attempts going for­ward although giv­en the con­tra­dic­to­ry nature of gov­ern­ment-backed gov­ern­ment-proof com­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices, it’s prob­a­bly not going to be easy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 22, 2014, 6:21 pm
  3. Here’s some ran­dom Ger­man-relat­ed arti­cles involv­ing the Cyber­war.


    A Ger­man steel fac­to­ry suf­fered mas­sive dam­age after hack­ers man­aged to access pro­duc­tion net­works, allow­ing them to tam­per with the con­trols of a blast fur­nace, the gov­ern­ment said in its annu­al IT secu­ri­ty report.

    The report, pub­lished Wednes­day by the Fed­er­al Office for Infor­ma­tion Secu­ri­ty (BSI), revealed one of the rare instances in which a dig­i­tal attack actu­al­ly caused phys­i­cal dam­age.

    The attack used spear phish­ing and sophis­ti­cat­ed social engi­neer­ing tech­niques to gain access to the factory’s office net­works, from which access to pro­duc­tion net­works was gained. Spear phish­ing involves the use of email that appears to come from with­in an orga­ni­za­tion. After the sys­tem was com­pro­mised, indi­vid­ual com­po­nents or even entire sys­tems start­ed to fail fre­quent­ly.

    [ See also: Nat­ur­al defens­es: 8 IT secu­ri­ty tac­tics found in nature ]

    Due to these fail­ures, one of the plant’s blast fur­naces could not be shut down in a con­trolled man­ner, which result­ed in “mas­sive dam­age to plant,” the BSI said, describ­ing the tech­ni­cal skills of the attack­er as “very advanced.”

    The attack used spear phish­ing and sophis­ti­cat­ed social engi­neer­ing tech­niques to gain access to the factory’s office net­works, from which access to pro­duc­tion net­works was gained. Spear phish­ing involves the use of email that appears to come from with­in an orga­ni­za­tion. After the sys­tem was com­pro­mised, indi­vid­ual com­po­nents or even entire sys­tems start­ed to fail fre­quent­ly.

    Due to these fail­ures, one of the plant’s blast fur­naces could not be shut down in a con­trolled man­ner, which result­ed in “mas­sive dam­age to plant,” the BSI said, describ­ing the tech­ni­cal skills of the attack­er as “very advanced.”

    The attack involved the com­pro­mise of a vari­ety of dif­fer­ent inter­nal sys­tems and indus­tri­al com­po­nents, BSI said, not­ing that not only was there evi­dence of a strong knowl­edge of IT secu­ri­ty but also extend­ed know-how of the indus­tri­al con­trol and pro­duc­tion process.

    The hack sounds sim­i­lar to attacks involv­ing the Stuxnet worm. Con­sid­ered the first known cyber­weapon, Stuxnet is believed to have been cre­at­ed by the U.S. and Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear pro­gram. Dis­cov­ered in 2010, the worm has espi­onage and sab­o­tage func­tion­al­i­ties that were used to destroy up to 1,000 ura­ni­um enrich­ment cen­trifuges at a nuclear plant near the city of Natanz in Iran.


    A Turk­ish man accused of steal­ing almost $60 mil­lion in a series of hack­ing raids against cred­it card com­pa­nies has won a legal vic­to­ry, after Germany’s top court blocked his extra­di­tion to the Unit­ed States.

    Ercan Find­ikoglu was arrest­ed at Frank­furt Air­port in Decem­ber 2013. U.S. author­i­ties accuse him of mas­ter­mind­ing a group that car­ried out the online heists between 2011 and 2013. The group alleged­ly hacked into the com­put­er net­works of pay­ment pro­cess­ing com­pa­nies to raise the lim­its on pre­paid cred­it cards and with­draw large sums of mon­ey.

    Judges at Germany’s Fed­er­al Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court grant­ed Findikoglu’s appeal against a low­er court’s deci­sion to per­mit his extra­di­tion.

    Court offi­cials pro­vid­ed The Asso­ci­at­ed Press with a copy of the Nov. 20 rul­ing, which was first report­ed Tues­day by Ger­man news web­site Spiegel Online.

    In their rul­ing, the three judges crit­i­cized the Frankfurt’s region­al court for fail­ing to obtain assur­ances from U.S. author­i­ties that the defen­dant won’t receive a dis­pro­por­tion­ate sen­tence if con­vict­ed.

    Under Ger­man law, the max­i­mum sen­tence for a prop­er­ty-relat­ed crime is 15 years impris­on­ment. Accord­ing to the rul­ing, Find­ikoglu could face more than 247 years in prison if con­vict­ed in the Unit­ed States.

    “This would amount to a life­time prison sen­tence,” the judges said, adding that this would be incom­pat­i­ble with Ger­man extra­di­tion law. Ger­man courts have in the past tak­en a sim­i­lar view in cas­es where the death sen­tence is pos­si­ble; cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment is banned in Ger­many.

    Findikoglu’s lawyer, Oliv­er Wal­lasch, said he expects the region­al court to quick­ly seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion on pos­si­ble sen­tences from U.S. author­i­ties, though their guide­lines wouldn’t be bind­ing on judges.

    U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman Peter Carr declined to com­ment on the deci­sion.


    Ger­many’s top for­eign intel­li­gence agency, known as the BND, has been revealed to claim a loop­hole that broad­ens its spy­ing man­date, allow­ing it to snoop on its own cit­i­zens abroad if they are work­ing for a for­eign com­pa­ny or orga­ni­za­tion. Nor­mal­ly, the agency is not allowed to spy on Ger­man peo­ple or com­pa­nies under Arti­cle 10 of the Basic Law regard­less of where they live.

    On Sat­ur­day, the Asso­ci­at­ed Press received con­fir­ma­tion from the Ger­man gov­ern­ment “that work-relat­ed calls or emails are attrib­uted to the employ­er. If the employ­er is for­eign, the BND can inter­cept them.”

    The BND did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to Ars’ request for com­ment.

    This state­ment stemmed from the tes­ti­mo­ny of a for­mer BND lawyer, who answered ques­tions last week before a par­lia­men­tary intel­li­gence committee—dubbed the “NSA Com­mit­tee.” Found­ed in March 2014, the com­mit­tee is tasked with (PDF) specif­i­cal­ly inves­ti­gat­ing “whether, in what way, and on what scale” the US and its Five Eyes allies “col­lect­ed or are col­lect­ing data” to, from, and with­in Ger­many.

    In Octo­ber 2013, it was revealed that the Unit­ed States had been spy­ing on Ger­man gov­ern­ment lead­ers, in par­tic­u­lar Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel. While many offi­cials have expressed out­rage, oth­er oppo­si­tion politi­cians in par­lia­ment believe that the dust-up is man­u­fac­tured, as the gov­ern­ment implic­it­ly or explic­it­ly sup­ports sur­veil­lance by Germany’s own BND, a long­stand­ing NSA ally.

    On Sun­day, the Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel (Google Trans­late) report­ed that the BND informed the Chancellor’s office as ear­ly as 2005 (long before Snow­den revealed him­self to jour­nal­ists and to the pub­lic in 2013) that Ger­many was a tar­get of the NSA.

    Giv­en recent his­to­ry with both the Nazi regime and East Ger­many, mod­ern Ger­many is very con­cerned with pri­va­cy rights and data pro­tec­tion. This rep­u­ta­tion has enticed a num­ber of “dig­i­tal exiles” to Berlin, most notably Lau­ra Poitras (one of the jour­nal­ists who broke the Edward Snow­den sto­ry), and Jacob Appel­baum, a well-known Amer­i­can com­put­er secu­ri­ty researcher and Tor devel­op­er.

    Some Ger­mans have called for their home coun­try to offer asy­lum to the famous whistle­blow­er and have begun a “Ein Bett für Snow­den” (A bed for Snow­den) cam­paign.

    Trust us

    The for­mer BND lawyer speak­ing before the NSA Com­mit­tee was Ste­fan Bur­baum, who worked at the BND from 2002 until 2005.

    “The office hold­er is the legal per­son,” he said, accord­ing to a Ger­man-lan­guage live­blog pro­vid­ed by the Ger­man tech pol­i­cy blog Net­zpoli­tik (Google Trans­late). “It’s a small excep­tion. But a Ger­man cit­i­zen can func­tion as an office hold­er in a for­eign orga­ni­za­tion.”

    Under ques­tion­ing from Hans-Chris­t­ian Strö­bele, a vet­er­an Green Par­ty par­lia­men­tar­i­an from Berlin, asked as an exam­ple if the head of the Ger­man char­i­ty Welthunger­hil­fe (World Famine Aid), when work­ing abroad, would be pro­tect­ed. (The Kab­ul office of Welthunger­hil­fe was mon­i­tored from 2005 until 2008, when it was revealed by the Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel.) Strö­bele also famous­ly met with Snow­den in Moscow in Novem­ber 2013.

    “The deci­sive thing is whether he’s com­mu­ni­cat­ing as a cit­i­zen or as an office hold­er,” Bur­baum added. “Any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Siemens would be pro­tect­ed because Siemens is a Ger­man com­pa­ny.”

    But he assured the com­mit­tee that such prac­tice has tak­en place “almost nev­er.”

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | December 23, 2014, 12:30 pm
  4. It looks like Berlin is about to wage a new war on its whistle­blow­ers:

    Der Spiegel
    War on Whistle­blow­ers: Berlin Gets Seri­ous in the Search for Moles

    By SPIEGEL Staff

    Decem­ber 01, 2014 – 06:11 PM

    Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s intel­li­gence coor­di­na­tor, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche, was vis­i­bly trou­bled as he arrived in room 2400 of Ger­many’s par­lia­ment build­ing. It’s the last straw, Fritsche told the gath­ered law­mak­ers with a steely voice and dark expres­sion. Because of the ongo­ing betray­al of offi­cial secrets, Fritsche said, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment will be fil­ing a crim­i­nal com­plaint. The sit­u­a­tion in which clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion has repeat­ed­ly found its way into the pub­lic domain can­not be allowed to con­tin­ue, he added.

    The par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, mem­bers of a con­fi­den­tial pan­el which super­vis­es the financ­ing of Ger­many’s intel­li­gence agen­cies, react­ed with con­cern. Sev­er­al weeks pre­vi­ous, Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Alt­maier, had uttered a sim­i­lar threat to Ger­many’s par­lia­ment, the Bun­destag, after inter­nal papers from the NSA inves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee found their way into the media. “Should it hap­pen again,” Merkel’s top aide said, the gov­ern­ment would resort to recourse in crim­i­nal law. The NSA com­mit­tee is cur­rent­ly inves­ti­gat­ing US spy­ing activ­i­ties on Ger­man soil.

    Now, the two men from the Chan­cellery are demon­strat­ing their resolve. In ear­ly Decem­ber, a writ­ten crim­i­nal com­plaint against unknown per­sons is to be sent to pub­lic pros­e­cu­tors in Berlin. Crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tors will then seek to deter­mine how clas­si­fied gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion man­aged to find its way into the pub­lic sphere.

    The com­plaint will be broad, aimed at all infor­mants, whether they are law­mak­ers or agency offi­cials. But par­lia­men­tar­i­ans — par­tic­u­lar­ly those mem­bers of the con­fi­den­tial intel­li­gence financ­ing pan­el, those on the NSA inves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee and those on the Par­lia­men­tary Con­trol Pan­el, which mon­i­tors Ger­man intel­li­gence activ­i­ties — will like­ly assume they will be the first to come under sus­pi­cion. The move is an attempt by the gov­ern­ment to intim­i­date those who might be sup­ply­ing secrets to the media, and although it may be com­mon­place in the Unit­ed States, it is the kind of step that Ger­many has­n’t seen in years.

    Fur­ther­more, the chan­cel­lor and her min­is­ters have shown that they are not con­tent to just rely on the judi­cia­ry. When it comes to the work of con­fi­den­tial gov­ern­ment bod­ies, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment has often made it dif­fi­cult for the par­lia­ment to exer­cise its mon­i­tor­ing duties. Key inves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee wit­ness­es are often only allowed to give tes­ti­mo­ny in secret and files have been lib­er­al­ly redact­ed out of con­cern that their con­tents might end up in the news­pa­pers.

    On the Prowl

    Con­cern in Berlin has been ris­ing as a result of sev­er­al dif­fer­ent dis­clo­sures, rang­ing from Ger­man intel­li­gence agen­cies’ coop­er­a­tion with the NSA to planned deliv­er­ies of bat­tle tanks to Sau­di Ara­bia. The gov­ern­ment has the impres­sion that the num­ber of secret doc­u­ments that have been leaked to the media has sig­nif­i­cant­ly increased as has the num­ber of media out­lets on the prowl for such leaks.

    The ten­sion between the exec­u­tive branch, the leg­isla­tive branch and the press, often seen as the fourth branch of gov­ern­ment, touch­es on the core of domes­tic secu­ri­ty work. And the aggres­sive pur­suit of leaks has become some­thing of a trend inter­na­tion­al­ly. Ger­many could now be fac­ing a broad­er debate about the ser­vices ren­dered by so-called “whistle­blow­ers,” sim­i­lar to the one trig­gered by Edward Snow­den in the US fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions of mass dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance per­pe­trat­ed by the NSA.

    On the one hand, the gov­ern­ment has a jus­ti­fi­able inter­est in keep­ing some infor­ma­tion away from the pub­lic eye, for rea­sons of domes­tic secu­ri­ty. On the oth­er, though, the need for trans­paren­cy and con­trol via par­lia­ment and the press is greater than it has ever been. In response, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment has vig­or­ous­ly sought to move entire pol­i­cy areas behind closed doors.

    That has inhib­it­ed open­ness and has weak­ened vot­ers’ faith in an exec­u­tive that would seem to be uni­lat­er­al­ly expand­ing secre­cy — and to be arbi­trar­i­ly decid­ing how to deal with infor­mants. Indeed, some infor­mants, such as those in pos­ses­sion of ille­gal­ly com­piled CDs with infor­ma­tion on pre­sumed tax evaders park­ing their mon­ey in Switzer­land or oth­er tax havens, are paid hand­some­ly for their efforts. Fur­ther­more, gov­ern­ment per­son­nel are hap­py to leak explo­sive secrets as long as it serve’s Berlin’s inter­ests. How­ev­er, those who pub­li­cize infor­ma­tion per­tain­ing to domes­tic secu­ri­ty, can expect legal con­se­quences.

    The cat­a­lyst for the crim­i­nal com­plaint now being filed is recent reports in SPIEGEL and in the influ­en­tial dai­ly Süd­deutsche Zeitung. On Oct. 20, SPIEGEL report­ed that Ger­many’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency, the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND), believed that pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine were respon­si­ble for shoot­ing down flight MH17. The report cit­ed a secret ses­sion of the Par­lia­men­tary Con­trol Pan­el dur­ing which BND head Ger­hard Schindler pre­sent­ed satel­lite images and oth­er pho­tos as evi­dence for the agen­cy’s view.

    It was infor­ma­tion that the Ger­man gov­ern­ment want­ed to remain con­fi­den­tial, as was mate­r­i­al per­tain­ing to prob­lems encoun­tered by the coun­try’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency with recruit­ing infor­mants, which SPIEGEL like­wise report­ed on in Octo­ber. Both reports could become ele­ments in the gov­ern­men­t’s forth­com­ing crim­i­nal com­plaint. The Süd­deutsche Zeitung, for its part, ruf­fled gov­ern­ment feath­ers by pub­lish­ing infor­ma­tion about the BND’s tech­ni­cal capa­bil­i­ties.

    NATO Coop­er­a­tion in Dan­ger

    Once the com­plaint is filed, pub­lic pros­e­cu­tors will be faced with the del­i­cate chal­lenge of iden­ti­fy­ing poten­tial infor­mants from among elect­ed offi­cials and oth­ers who work in intel­li­gence.

    The inves­ti­ga­tors, of course, won’t be the only ones on the look­out for moles in Berlin. The Defense Min­istry and the For­eign Min­istry have already launched efforts to iden­ti­fy the sources of sen­si­tive leaks. The two min­istries are con­cerned about sev­er­al inter­nal NATO doc­u­ments that found their way into the Ger­man press in recent months. Sev­er­al allied coun­tries have com­plained to Berlin, warn­ing that coop­er­a­tion could be neg­a­tive­ly impact­ed should the reports not cease. An inter­nal NATO inves­ti­ga­tion was also opened.

    Patience appar­ent­ly was exhaust­ed fol­low­ing a secret NATO res­o­lu­tion regard­ing the inten­si­fi­ca­tion of air patrols over the Baltics in response to the cri­sis in Ukraine. A SPIEGEL reporter wrote about the res­o­lu­tion in a tweet. In response, the For­eign Min­istry warned the Defense Min­istry of “endur­ing doubts” har­bored by NATO and EU part­ners when it comes to Ger­many’s “reli­a­bil­i­ty in the han­dling of sen­si­tive process­es in the field of secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy.” Such doubts must be avoid­ed, the doc­u­ment not­ed.

    The For­eign Min­istry spent weeks search­ing for the pos­si­ble leak, with per­son­nel hav­ing to pro­vide offi­cial dec­la­ra­tions that they had not shared doc­u­ments from their areas of respon­si­bil­i­ty. At the same time, the num­ber of min­istry per­son­nel receiv­ing cer­tain doc­u­ments was reduced and some papers were assigned a high­er degree of clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Sources say the move was intend­ed to dis­cour­age employ­ees from dis­sem­i­nat­ing sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion.

    Some offi­cials in the Defense Min­istry were also made to sign dec­la­ra­tions. And fol­low­ing pro­longed neg­a­tive press focused on the prob­lems plagu­ing the “Euro Hawk” drone pro­gram, the suc­ces­sor drone project was clas­si­fied as secret.

    Such mea­sures don’t only make it more dif­fi­cult for Ger­many’s par­lia­ment to keep an eye on the goings on in the min­istry, in the past they also ham­pered the work of KPMG, the con­sul­tan­cy group hired to opti­mize the man­age­ment of defense projects. For months, KPMG ana­lysts were forced to trav­el fre­quent­ly to Koblenz in order to review clas­si­fied papers on file there. It was only much lat­er, after com­plaints about the vol­ume of trav­el began to mount, that the min­istry made it eas­i­er for the con­sul­tants to review the doc­u­ments.

    Redact­ed Doc­u­ments

    But the gov­ern­men­t’s broad­en­ing demands for secre­cy have become most evi­dent when it comes to the NSA par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion. Impor­tant wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny, for exam­ple, has not been cleared for the pub­lic, lim­it­ing what jour­nal­ists may write. In one of the most recent com­mit­tee ses­sions, the tes­ti­mo­ny of one wit­ness, a BND agent, was even clas­si­fied as top secret. As a result, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans on the com­mit­tee had to turn in their notes fol­low­ing the ses­sion and the final report may not cite the agen­t’s tes­ti­mo­ny. In oth­er instances, gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives present at the hear­ings stopped tes­ti­mo­ny that they believed was too sen­si­tive.

    Prepa­ra­tion has also been made dif­fi­cult for law­mak­ers on the NSA com­mit­tee. It has become clear that BND wit­ness­es have been able to study files that were either not made avail­able to com­mit­tee mem­bers or were only made avail­able short­ly before the ses­sion in which they were dis­cussed. Fur­ther­more, many of those doc­u­ments that are made avail­able have been redact­ed to the point that they can no longer be under­stood. Even the itin­er­ary put togeth­er for the wife of an NSA direc­tor dur­ing his vis­it to Berlin was heav­i­ly redact­ed.

    Final­ly, the gov­ern­ment has also pre­vent­ed impor­tant issues from even being exam­ined in the first place because they alleged­ly had noth­ing to do with the inves­tiga­tive com­mit­tee’s work. Oppo­si­tion law­mak­ers on the com­mit­tee have even filed a com­plaint with Ger­many’s high court due to con­cerns that they are unable to ful­fill their con­trol func­tion in the absence of tes­ti­mo­ny from Edward Snow­den — tes­ti­mo­ny that has thus far been pre­vent­ed.


    Imag­ine that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 29, 2014, 3:37 pm
  5. Here’s a reminder that if the NSA’s vast spy­ing capa­bil­i­ties did­n’t actu­al­ly exist today, the US and its allies would prob­a­bly be fever­ish­ly work­ing on build­ing those exact capa­bil­i­ties right now. Espe­cial­ly in Europe:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    Back­lash in Berlin over NSA spy­ing recedes as threat from Islam­ic State ris­es

    By Greg Miller Decem­ber 29, 2014

    BERLIN — In a crescen­do of anger over Amer­i­can espi­onage, Ger­many expelled the CIA’s top oper­a­tive, launched an inves­ti­ga­tion of the vast U.S. sur­veil­lance pro­grams exposed by Edward Snow­den and extract­ed an apol­o­gy from Pres­i­dent Oba­ma for the years that U.S. spies had report­ed­ly spent mon­i­tor­ing Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s cell­phone.

    In an address to Par­lia­ment last year, Merkel warned that U.S.-German coop­er­a­tion would be cur­tailed and declared that “trust needs to be rebuilt.”

    But the coop­er­a­tion nev­er real­ly stopped. The pub­lic back­lash over Snow­den often obscured a more com­pli­cat­ed real­i­ty for Ger­many and oth­er aggriev­ed U.S. allies. They may be dis­mayed by the omniv­o­rous nature of the intel­li­gence appa­ra­tus the Unit­ed States has built since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but they are also deeply depen­dent on it.

    Over the past year, Ger­many has secret­ly pro­vid­ed detailed infor­ma­tion to U.S. spy ser­vices on hun­dreds of Ger­man cit­i­zens and legal res­i­dents sus­pect­ed of hav­ing joined insur­gent groups in Syr­ia and Iraq, U.S. and Ger­man offi­cials said.

    Ger­many has done so reluc­tant­ly to enlist U.S. help in track­ing depart­ed fight­ers, deter­min­ing whether they have joined al-Qae­da or the Islam­ic State and, per­haps most impor­tant­ly, whether they might seek to bring those groups’ vio­lent agen­das back to Ger­many.

    The stream of infor­ma­tion includes names, cell­phone num­bers, e‑mail address­es and oth­er sen­si­tive data that Ger­man secu­ri­ty ser­vices — ever mind­ful of the abus­es by the Nazi and Stasi secret police — have been reluc­tant even to col­lect, let alone turn over to a sus­pect ally.

    A senior Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cial com­pared the U.S. rela­tion­ship to a dys­func­tion­al mar­riage in which trust has bot­tomed out but a breakup is not an option. Amid what Ger­mans see as evi­dence of repeat­ed betray­al, “the ques­tion remain­ing is whether the hus­band is a noto­ri­ous cheater or can be faith­ful again,” said the offi­cial, who like oth­ers inter­viewed for this arti­cle spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss intel­li­gence mat­ters. “We’re just going to have to give it anoth­er try. There is no alter­na­tive. Divorce is out of the ques­tion.”

    More than 550 Ger­man cit­i­zens have gone to Syr­ia, offi­cials said, and at least nine have killed them­selves in sui­cide attacks.

    The exo­dus is part of a much broad­er flow of more than 15,000 for­eign fight­ers who have entered Syr­ia over the past four years from 80 coun­tries. At least 3,000 of them are from Europe — the largest con­tin­gent of Islamist jihadists with West­ern pass­ports that coun­tert­er­ror­ism agen­cies have ever faced.

    As a result, near­ly every coun­try in Europe is turn­ing over sig­nif­i­cant data on their own depart­ed fight­ers to the Unit­ed States. Some of these nations, includ­ing Ger­many, have capa­ble secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence agen­cies of their own. But even their com­bined resources prob­a­bly can­not match the scope and reach of their U.S. coun­ter­parts.

    Indeed, the Unit­ed States appears to be the only coun­try even attempt­ing to com­pile a com­pre­hen­sive data­base of all the for­eign fight­ers who have crossed into Syr­ia. The Nation­al Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Cen­ter (NCTC) adds new entries almost every week, often start­ing with only frag­ments of fight­ers’ iden­ti­ties and then fill­ing in oth­er details drawn from the arse­nal of U.S. intel­li­gence assets now aimed at Syr­ia.

    Even if only a small per­cent­age of fight­ers in Syr­ia were ever to pose any sig­nif­i­cant threat, their expo­sure to the country’s vio­lence and their poten­tial asso­ci­a­tions with the Islam­ic State or the al-Qae­da affil­i­ate Jab­hat al-Nus­ra make them part of a gen­er­a­tion that is like­ly to be mon­i­tored by secu­ri­ty ser­vices long after the fight­ing in Syr­ia and Iraq ends.

    “We’re look­ing at this as a decadal issue,” said a senior U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cial involved in pro­duc­ing clas­si­fied assess­ments on the Syr­ia threat. “Even if the num­bers stopped grow­ing today — if we only had the 15,000 — you’re still look­ing at a glob­al issue that is going to car­ry on for a num­ber of years and that is going to test the band­width and resources not only of us, but our for­eign part­ners.”

    Cross­ing bor­ders

    In the past year, Ger­many and oth­er nations have adopt­ed mea­sures to pre­vent cit­i­zens sus­pect­ed of plan­ning to join insur­gent groups from leav­ing. Some have begun seiz­ing pass­ports of would-be fight­ers. But the restric­tions vary by coun­try, are rid­dled with holes and have only par­tial­ly obstruct­ed key paths into Syr­ia.

    From Europe, the main route remains through Turkey, which is not part of the Euro­pean Union but is effec­tive­ly treat­ed as one in terms of trav­el. Euro­pean cit­i­zens don’t need pass­ports to fly into the coun­try ‚where thou­sands of fight­ers have made their way by car, bus or foot across Syria’s bro­ken bor­ders.

    Fight­ers com­ing back to Europe face sim­i­lar­ly incon­sis­tent scruti­ny. Euro­pean laws designed to pre­vent dis­crim­i­na­tion don’t per­mit “sys­temic” checks of cit­i­zens reen­ter­ing the E.U. from abroad, in con­trast to the Unit­ed States, which screens vir­tu­al­ly every incom­ing trav­el­er against coun­tert­er­ror­ism data­bas­es.

    Secu­ri­ty offi­cials across Europe are push­ing to relax that ban and oth­er con­straints but said doing so could take years.

    Inside Europe, bor­ders and pass­port con­trols have been large­ly erased over the past two decades, enabling Euro­peans to move across nation­al bound­aries much the way Amer­i­cans cross state lines. The result is a patch­work defense in which even coun­tries that man­age to track their own for­eign fight­ers have addressed only a por­tion of the threat.


    The Snow­den dis­clo­sures trig­gered an erup­tion of much greater force.

    “This is com­plete sur­veil­lance. It turns every­body into a sus­pect,” said Hans-Chris­t­ian Strö­bele, a mem­ber of Par­lia­ment who vis­it­ed Snow­den in Moscow last year. “The NSA can do much more than the East Ger­man secret police could in their wildest dreams,” he said, although he acknowl­edged that U.S. agen­cies “haven’t used their knowl­edge for the same ends.”

    But the Snow­den files also exposed how cost­ly it might be for offi­cials in Berlin to sev­er ties with U.S. intel­li­gence.

    One 2013 memo described how the NSA had “pro­vid­ed a sig­nif­i­cant amount of hard­ware and soft­ware” to the BND, the Ger­man for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice, which in turn was “work­ing to influ­ence the Ger­man gov­ern­ment to relax inter­pre­ta­tion” of pri­va­cy laws. The memo referred to Germany’s repeat­ed requests for help inter­cept­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions over Skype, an online net­work the Ger­mans had appar­ent­ly failed to crack.

    Anoth­er doc­u­ment dis­closed that the NSA had giv­en Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence ser­vice a potent soft­ware tool. Called XKEYSCORE, it serves as a sort of search engine for elec­tron­ic espi­onage, allow­ing agen­cies tapped into net­works to zero in on spe­cif­ic cell­phone num­bers, key­words or even Web search­es.

    The senior Ger­man intel­li­gence offi­cial said that the domes­tic agency, known as the Bun­de­samt für Ver­fas­sungss­chutz, or BfV, had been giv­en only a “test ver­sion” of the pro­gram and that it was being used to fil­ter data gath­ered under domes­tic wire­taps approved by Par­lia­ment.

    “We’re not allowed to search the big streams of intel­li­gence data” or U.S. stock­piles, the offi­cial said. “We need XKEYSCORE so if we have a stream on an indi­vid­ual, we can fil­ter the videos they down­load, e‑mails they send or Web sites they vis­it.”

    Though among Europe’s largest, Germany’s intel­li­gence ser­vices are dwarfed by their Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts. The BND, which sends spies abroad and con­ducts elec­tron­ic espi­onage, had a bud­get of approx­i­mate­ly $650 mil­lion last year. By con­trast, the CIA and NSA, which han­dle the same func­tions, had com­bined bud­gets approach­ing $25 bil­lion.

    The NSA “has bet­ter tech­ni­cal means, far more capac­i­ty, bet­ter soft­ware to deal with more data,” said Han­ning, the for­mer chief of the BND, or Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst. The Ger­man agency can deliv­er impres­sive results when focused on nar­row tar­gets such as the cri­sis in Ukraine or threats to Ger­man troops in Afghanistan. But mea­sured against the NSA, Han­ning said, the BND’s capa­bil­i­ties are “less than 10 per­cent.”


    So far, the U.S. col­lab­o­ra­tion has served as some­thing of an insur­ance pol­i­cy on which Ger­many has not had to col­lect. Ger­man offi­cials said there has been near-con­stant intel­li­gence “chat­ter” sug­gest­ing pos­si­ble attacks on Ger­man soil but no evi­dence of a spe­cif­ic plot.

    Ger­man offi­cials bris­tled at the sug­ges­tion of incon­sis­ten­cy in Berlin’s will­ing­ness to accept intel­li­gence pre­sum­ably obtained by the U.S. pro­grams and meth­ods it had con­demned. Sev­er­al made the argu­ment that Ger­many should not be crit­i­cized for receiv­ing such intel­li­gence, because U.S. spy agen­cies rarely dis­close pre­cise­ly how they got it.

    Ger­man agen­cies “receive it in the form of so-called ‘fin­ished intel­li­gence,’?” said Bin­ninger, the chair­man of Germany’s intel­li­gence com­mit­tee. “So you can­not draw the con­clu­sion that the Ger­man author­i­ties are being helped by infor­ma­tion that they crit­i­cized a year ago.”

    Oth­ers explained the rela­tion­ship in cold­ly prag­mat­ic terms.

    “The phe­nom­e­non of our time is the mush­room­ing of ter­ror­ist move­ments,” Haber said, describ­ing the Islam­ic State as a unique­ly bru­tal ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion that casts “a spe­cif­ic spell” on those who join it. The seri­ous­ness of that threat com­pels con­tin­ued coop­er­a­tion between the Unit­ed States and Ger­many, she said, despite the resid­ual resent­ment.

    Han­ning, the for­mer BND chief, acknowl­edged the ten­sion in Berlin’s posi­tion. “Some­times it’s not so easy being in Ger­many,” he said. “We are liv­ing with this con­tra­dic­tion.”

    “the ques­tion remain­ing is whether the hus­band is a noto­ri­ous cheater or can be faith­ful again,” said the offi­cial, who like oth­ers inter­viewed for this arti­cle spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss intel­li­gence mat­ters. “We’re just going to have to give it anoth­er try. There is no alter­na­tive. Divorce is out of the ques­tion.”

    Awwww, for­give and for­get. And for­get some more. How roman­tic.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 2, 2015, 6:35 pm
  6. Well look at that:

    Pan­do Dai­ly
    Ger­man intel­li­gence agency knew NSA was spy­ing on Euro­pean lead­ers as ear­ly as 2008

    By Nathaniel Mott
    On April 24, 2015

    Ger­many has been one of the harsh­est crit­ics of the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency sur­veil­lance pro­grams revealed by whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den in 2013. Yet a new report from Der Spiegel indi­cates that the NSA spied on world lead­ers with the help of the country’s elec­tron­ic sur­veil­lance agency, the Ger­man BND.

    This coop­er­a­tion was revealed as the result of a par­lia­men­tary inves­ti­ga­tion into the rela­tion­ship between the Ger­man BND and the NSA. The inquiry showed that the NSA asked the Ger­man BND to hand over infor­ma­tion about defense con­trac­tors, large com­pa­nies, and politi­cians from both Ger­many and France.

    Anoth­er report from the Die Zeit news­pa­per indi­cates that the Ger­man BND knew it was hand­ing over over sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion to the NSA, yet it didn’t end the part­ner­ship, or lim­it the data it shared with the Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agency. It was too wor­ried about the NSA retal­i­at­ing by lim­it­ing the infor­ma­tion it shares.

    That wouldn’t be the last time Ger­many com­pro­mised its ideals to receive infor­ma­tion from the NSA. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed in Decem­ber 2014 that the coun­try pro­vid­ed the NSA with the names, phone num­bers, and email address­es of sus­pect­ed extrem­ists it feared would cause trou­ble in Europe.

    These rev­e­la­tions make Germany’s objec­tions to the NSA sur­veil­lance pro­grams ring hol­low. Ger­man chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel was report­ed­ly spied on (some have said there’s no said there’s no con­crete evi­dence of this alle­ga­tion) yet the Ger­man BND helped the NSA spy on oth­er politi­cians across Europe. The coun­try has con­demned dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance, but it reach­es out to the NSA when it needs to.

    As I wrote when the Wash­ing­ton Post first revealed the recent data-shar­ing:

    There’s an inher­ent con­flict between a citizenry’s desire to main­tain its pri­va­cy and its government’s desire to defend against ter­ror­ist attacks. That’s why it’s been so hard for reform advo­cates to make any progress in the fear-mon­ger­ing US Con­gress.

    Bal­anc­ing the two com­pet­ing ideals is dif­fi­cult. The prob­lem is that Ger­many is try­ing to shield itself from any crit­i­cism for tip­ping the scales in favor of secu­ri­ty by clos­ing its eyes, receiv­ing NSA help, then con­demn­ing the scale’s shift from pri­va­cy.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 24, 2015, 2:03 pm
  7. Ger­many’s top pros­e­cu­tor is now inves­ti­gat­ing whether or not the BND’s spy­ing on EU gov­ern­ment and busi­ness report­ed­ly at the behest of the NSA broke the law:

    Ger­man pros­e­cu­tors launch inves­ti­ga­tion of spy­ing charges
    BERLIN | By Erik Kirschbaum

    Sun May 3, 2015 9:24am EDT

    (Reuters) — Ger­many’s top pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor will look into accu­sa­tions that the coun­try’s BND for­eign intel­li­gence agency vio­lat­ed laws by help­ing the Unit­ed States spy on offi­cials and firms in Europe, includ­ing Air­bus group, the fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors office said.

    A spokesman for the pros­e­cu­tors office con­firmed week­end media reports that an inves­ti­ga­tion had been launched as oppo­si­tion politi­cians demand­ed more infor­ma­tion about the unfold­ing scan­dal from Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment.

    “A pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion has been start­ed,” the spokesman said. In a relat­ed devel­op­ment, fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor Har­ald Range him­self will be ques­tioned by a par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee look­ing into the affair in Berlin on Wednes­day.

    Der Spiegel mag­a­zine said the BND helped the U.S. Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency over at least 10 years, embar­rass­ing Ger­many and upset­ting many in a coun­try where sur­veil­lance is a sen­si­tive top­ic due to abus­es by the Nazis and the East Ger­man Stasi.

    The mag­a­zine also report­ed that in 2013 the BND ordered staff to delete 12,000 inter­net “selec­tors” — IP address­es, email address­es and phone num­bers of Ger­man gov­ern­ment offi­cials — that it had been track­ing for the NSA.

    Oppo­si­tion mem­bers of par­lia­ment for the Greens and Left par­ty have request­ed more infor­ma­tion from Merkel’s gov­ern­ment about the BND’s assis­tance to the NSA. Ger­man media said there were indi­ca­tions EU gov­ern­ments and agen­cies, espe­cial­ly France, were the tar­gets of the BND’s spy­ing for the NSA.

    “This appears to be reach­ing a crim­i­nal dimen­sion,” Chris­t­ian Stroe­bele, a senior Greens mem­ber of par­lia­ment, told the Rheinis­che Post news­pa­per.

    Air­bus Group AIR.PA said on Thurs­day it planned to com­plain to the Ger­man author­i­ties over reports that the coun­try’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency had helped the Unit­ed States to spy on it and oth­er Euro­pean firms.


    It is an espe­cial­ly touchy issue in Ger­many because Merkel and many Ger­mans react­ed strong­ly in 2013 to reports that the NSA had long been tap­ping Merkel’s cell phone. “Spy­ing among friends is not at all accept­able,” she said at the time.

    Well, we’ll see where this inves­ti­ga­tion goes, but some­thing to keep in mind here is that, giv­en Ger­many’s rel­a­tive­ly strict stance on spy­ing (at least the pub­lic stance), you have to won­der if the spy­ing Ger­many did the behest of the NSA would have been legal or at least accept­able under Ger­man law if it had been done at the request of the Ger­man gov­ern­ment instead. Because, at that point, it would be the one EU gov­ern­ment direct­ly spy­ing on anoth­er EU gov­ern­ment which might be a big­ger diplo­mat­ic ‘no, no’ than, say, the NSA spy­ing on an EU gov­ern­ment. So you have to won­der if the NSA, by mak­ing these requests of the BND, was actu­al­ly giv­ing the BND bureau­crat­ic ‘cov­er’ to spy on Ger­many’s fel­low EU gov­ern­ments. If the BND got caught, at least they could tell their pissed off EU part­ners that they were just doing it on behalf of the Amer­i­cans. At least, that could have been part of the arrange­ment. So in addi­tion to the NSA mak­ing requests that the BND spy­ing on this or that gov­ern­ment or busi­ness, what’s to stop the BND from qui­et­ly request­ing spe­cif­ic NSA requests?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 4, 2015, 11:51 am
  8. The inves­ti­ga­tion of the NSA’s hack­ing of the Merkel phone just got dropped due to a lack of evi­dence:

    Finan­cial Times
    Ger­many drops inquiry into Merkel phone tap­ping

    Jee­van Vasagar in Berlin
    June 12, 2015 3:46 pm

    An inves­ti­ga­tion into the alleged tap­ping of Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone has been dropped by Germany’s fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, who cit­ed a lack of co-oper­a­tion from US author­i­ties.

    The inquiry, trig­gered by a Ger­man media report that the US Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency had a data­base con­tain­ing Ms Merkel’s phone num­ber, had not gath­ered enough evi­dence that could stand up in court, the pros­e­cu­tor said in a state­ment on Fri­day.

    An attempt to obtain an orig­i­nal NSA doc­u­ment pro­vid­ing autho­ri­sa­tion of phone-tap­ping had failed.

    The pros­e­cu­tor said “vague state­ments” by the US author­i­ties refer­ring to sur­veil­lance of Ms Merkel’s phone were not suf­fi­cient to prove a crime.

    This was a ref­er­ence to a White House state­ment that said the US “is not...and will not” mon­i­tor Ms Merkel’s phone.

    “These remarks were inter­pret­ed by the pub­lic as an admis­sion of guilt, but do not release us from the require­ments of the code of crim­i­nal pro­ce­dure,” the pros­e­cu­tor said.

    The inquiry relat­ed to a phone Ms Merkel used for par­ty polit­i­cal busi­ness, rather than the encrypt­ed phone intend­ed for mat­ters of state.

    Pros­e­cu­tors said an inquiry into the alleged “large-scale col­lec­tion” of Ger­man tele­coms data by US and British intel­li­gence agen­cies remains under way.

    The phone-tap­ping affair, cou­pled with Edward Snowden’s rev­e­la­tions about the NSA, briefly soured US-Ger­man rela­tions and fuelled anx­i­eties in Berlin over the secu­ri­ty of the country’s dig­i­tal and tele­coms infra­struc­ture.

    At the time, Ms Merkel’s gov­ern­ment cast itself as the vic­tim of high-hand­ed Amer­i­can pow­er. “Spy­ing among friends is not at all accept­able,” Ms Merkel said when Der Spiegel broke the sto­ry in 2013.

    Since then, how­ev­er embar­rass­ing rev­e­la­tions have emerged that the BND, Germany’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice, may have assist­ed the US in spy­ing on its EU allies.

    Accord­ing to Ger­man media reports, the BND helped the NSA to snoop on Euro­pean tar­gets, includ­ing the French pres­i­den­cy, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion and Air­bus, the aero­space group.


    Note that it does­n’t sound like all of the inquiries over NSA hack­ing were dropped, just the one relat­ed to the Angela Merkel’s par­ty phone:

    Pros­e­cu­tors said an inquiry into the alleged “large-scale col­lec­tion” of Ger­man tele­coms data by US and British intel­li­gence agen­cies remains under way.

    Good luck with the rest of the inves­ti­ga­tions!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 12, 2015, 2:24 pm
  9. Ger­hard Schindler, the head of the BND was sacked late last month with­out any expla­na­tion from the gov­ern­ment, although it was assumed to be part of an ongo­ing polit­i­cal bat­tle over the nature of the BND’s post-Snow­den reforms fol­low­ing Schindler’s recent­ly appar­ent will­ing­ness to imple­ment some reforms. Inter­est­ing­ly, its Ger­many’s right-wing finance min­is­ter, Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble, who has emerged as one of the BND’s biggest defend­ers dur­ing this peri­od. Even more inter­est­ing­ly, Schindler’s replace is Schaeuble’s right-hand man:

    The Guardian

    Spec­u­la­tion mounts that Ger­many’s spy chief was sacked over Snow­den fall­out

    Oppo­si­tion MPs say Ger­hard Schindler’s dis­missal is sign of a push­back against attempts to over­haul the intel­li­gence agency

    Philip Olter­mann in Berlin

    Wednes­day 27 April 2016 09.42 EDT

    Spec­u­la­tion is mount­ing in Ger­many whether the head of the country’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice has been sac­ri­ficed as part of a polit­i­cal strug­gle over how to deal with the long-term fall­out from the Snow­den rev­e­la­tions.

    Ger­hard Schindler, who has led Germany’s ver­sion of the CIA since 2012, is being removed two years before he reach­es retire­ment age, the gov­ern­ment has con­firmed. He will be replaced by Bruno Kahl, a depart­ment chief at the Ger­man finance min­istry with close con­nec­tions to finance min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schäu­ble.

    In a press brief­ing, Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Peter Alt­meier, explained that the sur­prise deci­sion to replace Schindler had been made with a view to a “reform of his role in view of chang­ing secu­ri­ty chal­lenges”.

    Germany’s intel­li­gence agency, the BND, has been rocked by a series of scan­dals since the rev­e­la­tions pro­vid­ed by Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency whistle­blow­er Edward Snow­den in 2013. A year ago it emerged that the BND had gone against Ger­man inter­ests and spied on Euro­pean part­ners at the request of the NSA.

    But Schindler appeared to have sur­vived the scan­dal after admit­ting that BND field offices had tak­en on “a life of their own” and promis­ing to cen­tralise con­trol. The 63-year-old had also recov­ered from recent health prob­lems.

    Oppo­si­tion politi­cians now inter­pret Schindler’s dis­missal as a sign of a push­back against attempts to over­haul the intel­li­gence agency. A draft law, increas­ing par­lia­men­tary over­sight over the BND, had been crit­i­cised by finance min­is­ter Schäu­ble last month.

    Green par­ty vet­er­an Hans-Chris­t­ian Strö­bele, a mem­ber of the Bun­destag com­mit­tee inves­ti­gat­ing the NSA scan­dal, described the tim­ing of Schindler’s dis­missal as sus­pi­cious, say­ing that while there had been good rea­sons to sack the spy chief over last year’s rev­e­la­tions, he had recent­ly shown a will­ing­ness to reform.

    “The key ques­tion is whether the aim is to block the reform of the BND,” said Kon­stan­tin von Notz, also a mem­ber of the Bun­destag com­mit­tee on the NSA affair. “If these reforms won’t hap­pen, then the chan­cel­lory is sit­ting on a tick­ing time bomb.”

    The chair­man of the Bundestag’s com­mit­tee told Mit­teldeutsche Zeitung that “we need a fresh start at the BND” in order to reform the ser­vice in the light of the recent scan­dals. On top of the Snow­den leaks, the Ger­man intel­li­gence ser­vice has been shak­en by the embar­rass­ing rev­e­la­tion that one of its own employ­ees sold on infor­ma­tion to both Amer­i­can and Russ­ian agen­cies.

    Pri­va­cy rights activists fear that Schindler’s dis­missal is part of a wider push­back by intel­li­gence agency offi­cials, who feel embold­ened after ter­ror­ist attacks in Brus­sels last month and in Paris last Novem­ber.

    In an inter­view this month, the head of Germany’s domes­tic intel­li­gence agency, Hans-Georg Maaßen, had sug­gest­ed that the Snow­den leaks had been direct­ed by the Krem­lin to dri­ve a wedge between west­ern Europe and the US.


    “Oppo­si­tion politi­cians now inter­pret Schindler’s dis­missal as a sign of a push­back against attempts to over­haul the intel­li­gence agency. A draft law, increas­ing par­lia­men­tary over­sight over the BND, had been crit­i­cised by finance min­is­ter Schäu­ble last month.”
    Keep in mind that Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble was one of the Ger­man politi­cians to pub­licly defend the BND last year when it emerged that the BND was work­ing close­ly with the NSA to spy on Euro­pean gov­ern­ments and com­pa­nies. And while he may have engaged in that defense on prin­ci­ple, it’s also worth keep­ing in mind that Schaeu­ble, as one of the lead nego­tia­tors in the eurogroup of euro­zone finance min­is­ters, prob­a­bly has more use for the intel­li­gence the BND gath­ers on oth­er Euro­pean gov­ern­ments than just about any­one oth­er Ger­man gov­ern­ment offi­cial with the excep­tion of Angela Merkel. It’s also worth keep­ing in mind the reports last fall about how much of that BND spy­ing on Euro­pean gov­ern­ments was­n’t done at the behest of the NSA:

    Der Spiegel

    Gov­ern­ments and NGOs: Ger­many Spied on Friends and Vat­i­can

    Efforts to spy on friends and allies by Ger­many’s for­eign intel­li­gence agency, the BND, were more exten­sive than pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed. SPIEGEL has learned the agency mon­i­tored Euro­pean and Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment min­istries and the Vat­i­can.

    Novem­ber 07, 2015 – 08:19 AM

    Three weeks ago, news emerged that Ger­many’s for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice, the Bun­desnachrich­t­en­di­enst (BND), had sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly spied on friends and allies around the world. In many of those instances, the BND had been doing so of its own accord and not at the request of the NSA. The BND came under heavy crit­i­cism ear­li­er this year after news emerged that it had assist­ed the NSA in spy­ing on Euro­pean insti­tu­tions, com­pa­nies and even Ger­mans using dubi­ous selec­tor data.

    SPIEGEL has since learned from sources that the spy­ing went fur­ther than pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed. Since Octo­ber’s rev­e­la­tions, it has emerged that the BND spied on the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of the Inte­ri­or and the inte­ri­or min­istries of EU mem­ber states includ­ing Poland, Aus­tria, Den­mark and Croa­t­ia. The search terms used by the BND in its espi­onage also includ­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions lines belong­ing to US diplo­mat­ic out­posts in Brus­sels and the Unit­ed Nations in New York. The list even includ­ed the US State Depart­men­t’s hot­line for trav­el warn­ings.


    The ini­tial rev­e­la­tions came after Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s Chan­cellery, which is in charge of over­see­ing Ger­many’s intel­li­gence agen­cies, informed the Bun­destag’s Par­lia­men­tary Con­trol Pan­el, which is respon­si­ble for apply­ing checks and bal­ances to intel­li­gence efforts, in mid-Octo­ber that the BND had been sur­veilling the insti­tu­tions of numer­ous Euro­pean coun­tries and oth­er part­ners for many years.

    In Octo­ber 2013, Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel con­demned spy­ing on her mobile phone by say­ing, “Spy­ing among friends? That’s just not done.” Appar­ent­ly these words did­n’t apply to the BND.

    “The ini­tial rev­e­la­tions came after Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s Chan­cellery, which is in charge of over­see­ing Ger­many’s intel­li­gence agen­cies, informed the Bun­destag’s Par­lia­men­tary Con­trol Pan­el, which is respon­si­ble for apply­ing checks and bal­ances to intel­li­gence efforts, in mid-Octo­ber that the BND had been sur­veilling the insti­tu­tions of numer­ous Euro­pean coun­tries and oth­er part­ners for many years.”
    Yep. The BND does­n’t just spy for the NSA when it’s spy­ing on oth­er gov­ern­ments. Shock­er. And it was appar­ent­ly shock­ing enough that the calls to reform the BND to got so loud that it looked like that reform might actu­al­ly hap­pen. But that was then, and this is now.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 18, 2016, 3:04 pm

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