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Thread: The NSA

  1. #136
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    *Waiting for BND to get caught with pants down to quote German politicians.*
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  2. #137

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    "...The German position is that "you don't do that kind of thing with Allies" in the 21st century."

    But it wasn't before 2000? I ask because, to remain a principle, it must be unchanged. Principles of intelligence collection at the strategic level might be altered to accommodate "ways and means" but never "ends". I therefore imagine America shall both mine and actively collect to whatever extent possible within resource constraints and expect the analyst to sort the wheat from the chaff.

    To that point, I would hazard American perspectives remain unchanged since the early eighties- "trust but verify".

    You routinely conduct vetting and counter-intelligence activities on your own folks. Are they not "allies"? Yet what is new and unusual regarding this? Further, who would be surprised that such occurs WRT those in sensitive positions of high power. At the operational level I cannot imagine anything changing. Ever. That's what spies do. RAISON D'ETRE.

    "...you won't get a more US-friendly German chancellor than Merkel. She's bending over backwards to form the Atlantic Bridge, so to say."

    I'll trust your perspective but, off-hand, she seems a fine lady with her heart and brain both in the right places. I believe she's a difficult position to manage within Germany now and I'm disappointed that we've made matters both harder for her and ourselves. I'm certain we've profoundly apologized but I can easily see that her or some other chancellor shall attract our attention again. Specifically, that of our operators and analysts.

    No getting around it until we dramatically re-construct the architecture and culture of intelligence collection. That won't be easy. Maybe you are not. I suspect otherwise but we're well-invested in exactly the other direction.

    Funny. Simple things like single-use ribbon, paper files and hardened land-lines might still possess immense utility.
    Last edited by S2; 19 Jul 14, at 19:18.
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  3. #138
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    The German position is that "you don't do that kind of thing with Allies" in the 21st century.
    Quote Originally Posted by Doktor View Post
    *Waiting for BND to get caught with pants down to quote German politicians.*
    "I told you"

    German Federal Intelligence Service taps Hillary Clinton's phone call | NDR.de - Nachrichten
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  4. #139
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    ... accidentally, because apparently US secure aircraft comms used the same frequencies as a group of terrorists they were spying on.

  5. #140
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    Quote Originally Posted by kato View Post
    ... accidentally, because apparently US secure aircraft comms used the same frequencies as a group of terrorists they were spying on.
    Excuses
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  6. #141
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    "the German government ordered to spy on a NATO partner" (from the linked article) = Turkey, according to SPON.

    A bit conjecture: The decision for this came around the same time Turkey restructured the targets for its own MIT intelligence agency, focussing a large part of its manpower on Russia and the Caucasus, as well as vastly increasing its domestic espionage efforts on several million of its citizens (which were only revealed by Turkish newspaper Hürriyet this week); MIT was also involved in some clandestine operations in Germany at the time, such as the July 2009 breaking-and-entering into a Berlin government office in which several thousand blank permits and seals were stolen.

    Clinton and apparently Kerry both had SATCOM phone calls intercepted by the BND's interception/surveillance network while physically located in the Middle East (Turkey in Kerry's case). Both intercepts were destroyed.

  7. #142
    Senior Contributor Doktor's Avatar
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    So, Turkey is not an ally, or they are not a 21st century ally? I don't follow.
    No such thing as a good tax - Churchill

    To make mistakes is human. To blame someone else for your mistake, is strategic.

  8. #143
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    My impression is that Turkey is part of NATO mostly at the behest of the US. According to Der Spiegel

    Over the weekend, a government source in Germany defended Berlin's actions in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, published on Sunday. Chancellor Merkel has stated repeatedly since the NSA scandal that friends should not be spying on friends, but the source said: "We have never claimed in the past years that this position applies to every NATO country." The paper also quoted the source saying that Turkey could not be compared to the United States or European partners like France or Great Britain.
    I imagine the sizable Turkish population in Germany gives this story an interesting domestic twist in addition to any foreign relations implications. The timing of this little revelation may work in Germany's favor as I imagine Turkey is too busy with developments on its southern border to bother with making a big scene.

    In my opinion, countries spy on anyone they consider important, friendly or not. Germany is currently the heavyweight in the EU, and I think the US would be negligent not to keep tabs on developments there. Likewise, I think the BND or similar would be foolish not to spy on the US.

  9. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    I imagine the sizable Turkish population in Germany gives this story an interesting domestic twist in addition to any foreign relations implications.
    Nah, not really. Nowadays, despite Turkish (mostly AKP) wishes, much of the 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-generation Turkish immigrants in Germany are rather disconnected from Turkey politically and culturally. Many don't even speak (proper) Turkish. In addition, by the usual estimates about half of all Turkish people in Germany are members of minority groups such as Alevites, Kurdish or Armenians. There are rather clear splits between these within Germany, especially coming from some "nationalist" groups.

    There are some ethnocentric associations of Turkish citizens which use the current situation to raise political issues they've been addressing for years, such as the Turkish Community of Germany calling for Domestic Intelligence to be dissolved (yet again - mostly because Domestic Intelligence has some Turkish nationalist groups on its watchlist). The espionage on Turkey though is considered a non-issue, and has so far not been raised by anyone among Germany's Turks.

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveDaPirate View Post
    The timing of this little revelation may work in Germany's favor as I imagine Turkey is too busy with developments on its southern border to bother with making a big scene.
    The timing is mostly relevant with regard to one other thing - it came within one week after Erdogan successfully boxed through his reelection as Turkish president. An earlier release would at the very least have led to higher voter turnout, which would have been detrimental to Erdogan's AKP.

  10. #145
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    when there was indignation articulated in germany by govt officials over US alphabets harvesting I thought it was a tad brave - it was only going to be a matter of time before a counter example was exposed - its interesting to note that the majority of eu/nato members stayed very very quiet - esp the country that has probably the most sophisticated geoint capability of any country in continental europe

    anyone who thinks allies don't monitor each other in some form or fashion is incredibly naive - it might not be spoken about in polite/diplomatic circles - but everyone does it. there's a fundamental difference between don't and can't. those that can - do.

    and contrary to some of the silly handwringing generated by the broader media, its not a hostile act. nations that can monitor and don't are imo abrogating their responsibilities towards managing national interests

    in germanys case I know of a number of examples where they have active processes countering INT from other NATO friendlies - and yet no comment was voiced in the open

    domestic politics and international politics in national security are 2 very different beasts.

  11. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    anyone who thinks allies don't monitor each other in some form or fashion is incredibly naive - it might not be spoken about in polite/diplomatic circles - but everyone does it.
    Stewart Baker defined it quite well last year: Allies are not always friends. The question is rather which strata nations are positioned at.

    Quote Originally Posted by gf0012-aust View Post
    esp the country that has probably the most sophisticated geoint capability of any country in continental europe
    ESGA/ESBR and its future followup MUSIS might play a role there.

  12. #147
    Senior Contributor Triple C's Avatar
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    I was reading stuff for my PhD proposal when I come across a reference to blanked out pages of ULTRA intelligence that were de-classified in the 80s. "Revisionist" historians of the atomic bomb thought the US was hiding something that would reflect poorly on Truman's decision to use the bomb. In fact, the US was indeed hiding something... that would reflect poorly on Churchill, FDR and Truman's spying on allies of the United Nations.
    All those who are merciful with the cruel will come to be cruel to the merciful.
    -Talmud Kohelet Rabbah, 7:16.

  13. #148
    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    The latest development in the saga of NSA/BND in Germany, from the BBC.

    Germany's national intelligence agency, the BND, spied on top French officials and the EU's headquarters on behalf of US intelligence, German media report.

    The leaks from a secret BND report suggest that its monitoring station at Bad Aibling spied on France's presidential palace and foreign ministry, and the European Commission.

    The US National Security Agency also allegedly spied on some European firms.
    German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere denies claims of a cover-up.

    The BND reportedly collected information on European firms at Washington's behest to check if they were breaking trade embargos.

    According to the reports, the BND did not target German or US officials in the surveillance, as they are protected by a BND-NSA agreement signed in 2002.

    However, it has emerged that the German government knew about NSA spying on European arms businesses as early as 2008. The government found "shortcomings" in the BND's operations, German TV reports.

    Yesterday the tabloid newspaper Bild printed a picture of Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere - his nose elongated to Pinocchio proportions. "Herr de Maiziere!" the accompanying headline screamed. "You lie with impunity!"

    There's outrage here that Germany - for so long seen as the victim of American espionage - may have helped US spies to target other Europeans. And pressure is building on the government to reveal how much it knew.

    As the former minister in charge of the chancellery, Thomas de Maiziere was directly responsible for Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND, in 2008.

    And that is when, it's claimed, the BND first told the chancellery that its agents were now helping the NSA to spy on European aviation, aerospace and defence companies.

    Mr de Maiziere has denied all knowledge, and maintains that he hasn't deceived anyone. But he says that - because the information is all classified - he is unable to comment publicly.

    Yet there are questions about who else was aware. Another German newspaper devoted its front page to a "wanted" poster. Among the mugshots of politicians and civil servants was Chancellor Angela Merkel herself.

    Mr de Maiziere denies having had any knowledge of malpractice at German intelligence.

    But he called for the internal BND report to be presented to a parliamentary committee, "the sooner the better".
    The huge scale of NSA surveillance in Europe - including joint spying operations with the UK's GCHQ - was revealed in 2013 by US whistleblower Edward Snowden.

    There was outrage in Germany because of the scope of NSA spying, which allegedly included snooping on Chancellor Merkel's mobile phone conversations. The revelations strained German-US diplomatic ties.

    Last July Germany expelled a CIA official based at the US embassy, as reports surfaced of several Germans having spied for the NSA.

    Germany's leftist Die Linke party accused the German government on Wednesday of "lying" in connection with NSA activities.

    German media reports speak of NSA attempts to spy on Airbus and Eurocopter, now known as Airbus Helicopters, via the BND.

  14. #149
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    The BND reportedly collected information on European firms at Washington's behest to check if they were breaking trade embargos.
    That's per se not correct (and a bit apologist), as it implies that the BND acted only on the US behalf in spying on Europeans.

    The BND had tapped the DE-CIX internet exchange point in Frankfurt and was pretty much shoveling the internet into its databases. As part of an agreement with the NSA stemming from 2002, the BND allowed the NSA to submit "selectors" that it ran over that ever-increasing data looking for information that the NSA was interested in. This agreement has the benefit for the BND that they get at least a large subset of knowing what and who the US is currently interested in.
    BND staff discovered in 2005 that the NSA was submitting selectors that were not covered by the BND/NSA agreement (i.e. that were looking for information on EU nationals); during 2005, the NSA became active in its intelligence operations against Germany in multiple fields*, not just this one. The BND started rejecting such "offensive" selectors, and filed them separately - initially about 2,000, later on about 40,000 selectors. The chancellery received repeated reports (at least in 2008 and 2010) on what the discovered offensive selectors were looking for, i.e. what the NSA was looking for in the BND's databases, and thus knew about the fact that the NSA was trying to - and probably, through undetected selectors, succeeding at - spy on Europeans through the BND.

    The affair was kept entirely confidential until the 2013 NSA affair, when the parliamentary committee formed to examine the affair stumbled over footnotes leading to the BND reports regarding the above.

    *- The selectors for EADS popped up around 2008, at the same time the US - seen as somewhat outrageously - cancelled the KC-45 contract in favour of Boeing. As such it's not even just trying to spy on EADS, it's generally over here considered outright industrial espionage to benefit US companies.

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