Thursday 31st of July 2014

the snowden dark trickle in germany...

nsamerkaner

Inside Snowden's Germany File

 

By SPIEGEL Staff

An analysis of secret documents leaked by Edward Snowden demonstrates that the NSA is more active in Germany than anywhere else in Europe -- and that data collected here may have helped kill suspected terrorists.

Just before Christmas 2005, an unexpected event disrupted the work of American spies in the south-central German city of Wiesbaden. During the installation of a fiber-optic cable near the Rhine River, local workers encountered a suspicious metal object, possibly an undetonated World War II explosive. It was certainly possible: Adolf Hitler's military had once maintained a tank repair yard in the Wiesbaden neighborhood of Mainz-Kastel.

The Americans -- who maintained what was officially known as a "Storage Station" on Ludwig Wolker Street -- prepared an evacuation plan. And on Jan. 24, 2006, analysts with the National Security Agency (NSA) cleared out their offices, cutting off the intelligence agency's access to important European data streams for an entire day, a painfully long time. The all-clear only came that night: The potential ordinance turned out to be nothing more than a pile of junk.

Residents in Mainz-Kastel knew nothing of the incident.

Of course, everybody living there knows of the 20-hectare (49-acre) US army compound. A beige wall topped with barbed wire protects the site from the outside world; a sign outside warns, "Beware, Firearms in Use!"

Americans in uniform have been part of the cityscape in Wiesbaden for decades, and local businesses have learned to cater to their customers from abroad. Used-car dealerships post their prices in dollars and many Americans are regulars at the local brewery. "It is a peaceful coexistence," says Christa Gabriel, head of the Mainz-Kastel district council.

But until now, almost nobody in Wiesbaden knew that Building 4009 of the "Storage Station" houses one of the NSA's most important European data collection centers. Its official name is the European Technical Center (ETC), and, as documents from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden show, it has been expanded in recent years. From an American perspective, the program to improve the center -- which was known by the strange code name "GODLIKELESION" -- was badly needed. In early 2010, for example, the NSA branch office lost power 150 times within the space just a few months -- a serious handicap for a service that strives to monitor all of the world's data traffic.

On Sept. 19, 2011, the Americans celebrated the reopening of the refurbished ETC, and since then, the building has been the NSA's "primary communications hub" in Europe. From here, a Snowden document outlines, huge amounts of data are intercepted and forwarded to "NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East." The hub, the document notes, ensures the reliable transfer of data for "the foreseeable future."

Soon the NSA will have an even more powerful and modern facility at their disposal: Just five kilometers away, in the Clay Kaserne, a US military complex located in the Erbenheim district of Wiesbaden, the "Consolidated Intelligence Center" is under construction. It will house data-monitoring specialists from Mainz-Kastel. The project in southern Hesse comes with a price tag of $124 million (€91 million). When finished, the US government will be even better equipped to satisfy its vast hunger for data.

One year after Edward Snowden made the breadth of the NSA's global data monitoring public, much remains unknown about the full scope of the intelligence service's activities in Germany. We know that the Americans monitored the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and we know that there are listening posts in the US Embassy in Berlin and in the Consulate General in Frankfurt.

But much remains in the dark. The German government has sent lists of questions to the US government on several occasions, and a parliamentary investigative committee has begun looking into the subject in Berlin. Furthermore, Germany's chief public prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the NSA -- albeit one currently limited to its monitoring of the chancellor's cell phone and not the broader allegation that it spied on the communications of the German public. Neither the government nor German lawmakers nor prosecutors believe they will receive answers from officials in the United States.

Read more: http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/new-snowden-revelations-on-nsa-spying-in-germany-a-975441-druck.html

 

french vino instead of russian vodka for snowden?...

The centrist senator Catherine Morin-Desailly plans to bring a resolution to the French Senate that will offer Edward Snowden asylum and honorary French citizenship. Though it is not clear whether the motion will pass, Morin-Desailly says she has support from both the right and the left. She believes Snowden acted nobly by revealing the mass surveillance of the NSA and should be protected. Some have posited concerns of this move troubling Franco-American relations, but Morin-Desailly maintains that it will not bring lasting harm. Via Le Monde (in French).

http://www.hacksurfer.com/posts/french-senate-to-consider-offering-snowden-asylum

illegal spying below...

blimp

Activists flew a blimp emblazoned with the words "Illegal Spying Below" over the National Security Agency's data centre in Utah on Friday in protest against the US government's mass surveillance programmes.

The one-hour flight was carried out by the environmental group Greenpeace, digital rights activists the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a conservative political organisation, the Tenth Amendment Centre.

The 41 metre (135ft) blimp, owned by Greenpeace, was adorned with a sign that read "NSA Illegal Spying Below".

In an email to Reuters the agency declined to comment. But a spokesman did note there was no restricted airspace over the data centre, housed on the grounds of the Utah National Guard's Camp Williams in Bluffdale, 23 miles (37km) south of Salt Lake City.

The NSA says the facility provides the government with intelligence and warnings about cyber security threats. It is thought to be the agency's largest data storage centre.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/28/illegal-spying-below-blimp-flies-over-nsa-data-centre-in-surveillance-protest

no limits for the National Security Agency...

 

Virtually no foreign government is off-limits for the National Security Agency, which has been authorized to intercept information “concerning” all but four countries, according to top-secret documents.

The United States has long had broad no-spying arrangements with those four countries — Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — in a group known collectively with the United States as the Five Eyes. But a classified 2010 legal certification and other documents indicate the NSA has been given a far more elastic authority than previously known, one that allows it to intercept through U.S. companies not just the communications of its overseas targets but any communications about its targets as well.

The certification — approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and included among a set of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden — lists 193 countries  that would be of valid interest for U.S. intelligence. The certification also permitted the agency to gather intelligence about entities such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency, among others.

read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/court-gave-nsa-broad-leeway-in-surveillance-documents-show/2014/06/30/32b872ec-fae4-11e3-8176-f2c941cf35f1_story.html

 

double-agent...

An employee of the German foreign intelligence agency has been arrested by authorities on suspicion of spying for the United States.

Prosecutors in Germany said a 31-year-old man was arrested and the foreign ministry has summoned the US ambassador over the incident.

The alleged American agent is thought to have been working in intelligence agency BND with documents collected by the parliamentary committee investigating a previous allegation of spying, which involved the tapping of chancellor Angela Merkel's phoneby the US National Security Agency (NSA).

That incident had already raised the feeling in Germany against American surveillance.

Two politicians who sit on the nine-person committee have told Reuters the accused spy, who is German, has admitted passing to an American contact details about the committee which oversees the work of German intelligence agencies and is investigating the spying revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The German foreign ministry said in a statement that it had invited the US ambassador to come for talks regarding the matter, and asked him to help deliver a swift explanation.

"This was a man who had no direct contact with the investigative committee ... he was not a top agent," one of the members of parliament said.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-05/germany-arrests-suspected-double-agent-spying-for-us/5573954

total word domination...

William Binney is one of the highest-level whistleblowers to ever emerge from the NSA. He was a leading code-breaker against the Soviet Union during the Cold War but resigned soon after September 11, disgusted by Washington’s move towards mass surveillance.

On 5 July he spoke at a conference in London organised by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and revealed the extent of the surveillance programs unleashed by the Bush and Obama administrations.

“At least 80% of fibre-optic cables globally go via the US”, Binney said. “This is no accident and allows the US to view all communication coming in. At least 80% of all audio calls, not just metadata, are recorded and stored in the US. The NSA lies about what it stores.”

The NSA will soon be able to collect 966 exabytes a year, the total of internet traffic annually. Former Google head Eric Schmidt once arguedthat the entire amount of knowledge from the beginning of humankind until 2003 amount to only five exabytes.

Binney, who featured in a 2012 short film by Oscar-nominated US film-maker Laura Poitras, described a future where surveillance is ubiquitous and government intrusion unlimited.

“The ultimate goal of the NSA is total population control”, Binney said, “but I’m a little optimistic with some recent Supreme Court decisions, such as law enforcement mostly now needing a warrant before searching a smartphone.”

He praised the revelations and bravery of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and told me that he had indirect contact with a number of other NSA employees who felt disgusted with the agency’s work. They’re keen to speak out but fear retribution and exile, not unlike Snowden himself, who is likely to remain there for some time.

Unlike Snowden, Binney didn’t take any documents with him when he left the NSA. He now says that hard evidence of illegal spying would have been invaluable. The latest Snowden leaks, featured in the Washington Post, detail private conversations of average Americans with no connection to extremism.

It shows that the NSA is not just pursuing terrorism, as it claims, but ordinary citizens going about their daily communications. “The NSA is mass-collecting on everyone”, Binney said, “and it’s said to be about terrorism but inside the US it has stopped zero attacks.”

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jul/11/the-ultimate-goal-of-the-nsa-is-total-population-control

intelligence collection is a bit of a crap shoot...

 

The recruitment of foreign journalists frequently involves providing them with information that in turn enables them to prepare what are referred to as “press placements.” Most large CIA Stations control one or more local journalists and an occasional editor. While US law prohibits intelligence agencies from feeding false information to American journalists, foreign media representatives are fair game. Many local journalists welcome the arrangement as it gives them additional tax free income while also occasionally providing them with information that can be used to further their own careers.

The curious thing about the Menendez case is that the Cuban Directorate of Intelligence appears to have picked the wrong story, believing that a sex case would prove most damaging to the Senator’s career. According to the Washington Post, Menendez might soon be charged regarding an ongoing Justice Department public integrity division investigation over his allegedly doing favors for Salomon Melgen, whom he stayed with in the Dominican Republic. Menendez reportedly twice intervened with federal health-care officials over a finding that Melgen had overbilled Medicare by $8.9 million for eye treatments at his clinics. The senator also pressured the State and Commerce departments to use their influence over the Dominican Republic to confirm a port security contract for a company partly owned by Melgen. Menendez might learn to his regret that the truth is sometimes more damaging that fiction.

The indignation of Merkel over the American spies and of Menendez over the audacity of the Cubans is understandable, but it is all part and parcel of things that spy agencies do regularly. Did Washington learn anything important by monitoring the BND reporting on NSA? Probably not, but intelligence collection is a bit of a crap shoot, looking for something that you don’t necessarily know is there, much like the Donald Rumsfeld observation that “the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or vice versa.” Likewise, did the cleverly executed Cuban press placement succeed in bringing down Robert Menendez? No, but if it had been developed a bit earlier and been picked up in more of the mainstream media, it just might have.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

read more: http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/outraged-by-espionage-angela-merkel-robert-menendez/

 

shaken trust...

 

...

For Mr. Hahn, who sits in Parliament for the Left Party of former East German Communists and Western leftists, the story proves that, like any good spy, you should never rule out anything.

“In both cases, we only started probing because people believed it involved the Russian secret service,” Mr. Hahn said. “For me, the discussions of the past few days have shown that we think the Russians and Chinese are willing to do anything. But in the Americans we placed literally blind trust, and this trust is now really shaken.”

Others see the whole episode as proof that the United States, mired in its own problems and occupied with multiple crises overseas, cares little about Germany and will not modify its intelligence practices without drastic action from Berlin.

Expulsion of the C.I.A. chief may jolt some Americans, but it “is still not an action that will have consequences,” said Josef Braml, an American specialist at the German Council on Foreign Relations. “If you are really serious about it, you should cause some economic pain, maybe canceling contracts for some companies that obviously work together with the U.S. security apparatus.”

In fact, the German Interior Ministry did just that before the affair of the American agents broke. On June 26, it said it would cancel a contract with Verizon Communications. “The links revealed between foreign intelligence agencies and firms,” the ministry said in a statement, “show that the German government needs a high level of security for its essential networks.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/world/europe/behind-german-spy-cases-twists-worthy-of-films.html

 

meanwhile at the futbol...

 

Germany has won the 2014 World Cup after Mario Goetze hit the final's only goal in a 1-0 extra-time win over Argentina at the Maracana on Monday morning.

A combination of substitutes provided Germany's golden moment as Andre Schuerrle danced past his marker on the left wing before hitting a sumptuous cross to Goetze, who chested the ball down and volleyed past Sergio Romero in one spectacular movement.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-14/world-cup-final-germany-argentina/5593490

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Gus: What was impressive was the general conviviality of the Germans. Angela Merkel, possibly communicating with her government in a new encrypted channel to stop the NSA spying on her, gave a kiss and a hug to all the German players and officials present. And one could see the genuine pride of being German. Already the BBC is blah blah blah-ing about it:

 

She's been accused of shamelessly attaching herself to the footballers and their success, and the polls have shown upward blips of support for her as the team has progressed. But will it last?

There's no doubt the World Cup has played well for her. Within an hour of the final whistle, there seemed to be a million tweets of her pictured in the middle of the sweaty, victorious team holding the trophy, the president of Germany beside her.

She is, by all accounts, a genuine football fan, going to games way before she was politically important. But nowadays the right picture in the right place doesn't do any harm either.

She was there when Germany thrashed Portugal 4-0 at the start and she was there at the final triumph when they lifted the World Cup.

She's been described as the team's lucky charm. As she and the team's supporters sometimes put it: "Our twelfth man is a woman."

But the political benefits of sporting success are not clear - or rather, they are complex and memory plays tricks.

 

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28288449

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One has to know that Angela Merkel is one of the rare scientists at the helm of a very powerful country and a woman of course... and methinks that's two of the reasons, the US is spying on her, as well as her being an East German, before reunification...

 

 

 

back to the old keyboard...

German politicians are considering a return to using manual typewriters for sensitive documents in the wake of the US surveillance scandal.

The head of the Bundestag's parliamentary inquiry into NSA activity in Germany said in an interview with the Morgenmagazin TV programme that he and his colleagues were seriously thinking of ditching email completely.

Asked "Are you considering typewriters" by the interviewer on Monday night, the Christian Democrat politican Patrick Sensburg said: "As a matter of fact, we have – and not electronic models either". "Really?" the surprised interviewer checked. "Yes, no joke," Sensburg responded.

"Unlike other inquiry committees, we are investigating an ongoing situation. Intelligence activities are still going on, they are happening," said Sensburg.

Last week, Merkel's government asked the CIA's station officer in Germany to leave the country after an employee of the German intelligence agency BND confessed to passing confidential documents to the US secret service. The ongoing investigation prompted speculation that the CIA may have actively targeted the Bundestag's NSA inquiry committee.

Last year, the Russian government reportedly took similar measures after the extent of US electronic surveillance was revealed by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The federal guard service, a powerful body tasked with protecting Russia's highest-ranking officials, put in an order for 20 Triumph Adler typewriters, which create unique "handwriting", that allows the source of any documents created on them to be traced.

But judging by the reaction to Sensburg's comments, manual typewriters are unlikely to be widely adopted in German political circles.

"Before I start using typewriters and burning notes after reading, I'd rather abolish the secret services," tweeted Martina Renner, an opposition member of the parliamentary committee investigating the activities of US and other intelligence agencies in Germany. Sahra Wagenknecht, Die Linke party's deputy chair, described the suggestion as grotesque.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/15/germany-typewriters-espionage-nsa-spying-surveillance

 

May I say I made a similar suggestions (see this site: ...) to stop cyber attacks on "sensitive" organisations.

Once you are linked to the web or computerised even in the most basic program, there is no way to stop anyone with skills in encryption to go back to the source, despite firewalls and security codes... 

Keeping Spies Out

 

Keeping Spies OutGerman Ratchets Up Counterintelligence Measures


Officials in Berlin were long in denial that their closest allies were spying on Germany. Now, ministries are undertaking measures to improve security and counterintelligence. They're anticipating frosty relations with the US for some time to come.

Last Wednesday, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière paid a visit to his colleague in the Foreign Ministry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier for a strictly confidential conversation about the currently tense relationship with the United States. Specifically, they planned to address the latest spying revelations and accusations. Before the meeting began, both ministers turned in their mobile phones. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has a small side room he uses for this purpose; part of the Foreign Ministry is in the former Nazi Reichsbank and has very thick walls. The room is now used to store smartphones and tablet computers when sensitive discussions take place.

The precaution reflects the significant disquiet and anxiety in Berlin's ministries and in the Chancellery as the summer holidays get underway. Slowly, ministry officials are starting to grapple with the true meaning of "360 degree" counterintelligence. It means defending yourself not just usual suspects like Russia or China. But also against Germany's closest allies, particularly the United States.

A few days ago, Chancellor Merkel reportedly told US President Barack Obama in a telephone conversation that anger over the US spying activities in Berlin's government quarter as well as the recruitment of an informant inside Germany's Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) foreign intelligence service has in no way subsided. Because Obama apparently expressed little understanding for the commotion in Germany, Merkel is now taking action.

The only thing she is lacking is a solid plan.

Thus far, most ministries are going it mostly alone when it comes to addressing the espionage threat. Some are having their internal networks tested for security problems while others have issued new rules of conduct for their employees. Still others have taken no concrete steps aside from increasing general vigilance.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/germany-increases-counterintelligence-in-response-to-us-spying-a-982135.html

 

See also:  war of the cybers...