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Surprise, Surprise! BND Spies on the United States

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

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

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

The BND answers direct­ly to the Ger­man Chan­cel­lor!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Spy­ing on Nor­way? No way! No?:

    The For­eign­er
    Nor­way media and mil­i­tary dif­fer over Snow­den NSA doc­u­ments

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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