Der Spiegel Reveals Intimate Relationship Between NSA and German Intelligence Agencies

The German publication Der Spiegel has released one of the largest leaks of Snowden files to date, with over 50 pages of documents detailing the intimate relationship that existed between the US and German intelligence agencies who used their collective might to spy on private citizens hailing from North America and the EU.

NSA
Photo: Gil C / Shutterstock

These newest leaks confirm that both the German Intelligence Agency (Bundesnachrichtendienst, BND) and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) were intimately linked with several departments of the NSA, trading secrets and tools of the trade between agencies while each committed their resources to collective investigations designed to bring international criminals and their cohorts to justice.

The relationship supposedly goes much further than September 11 and the passage of the Patriot Act, noting that the BND had been anxious to strengthen their spying ties with the US since all the way back in 1962.

The author of the original Der Spiegel piece elaborated on just how excited the NSA was to have a willing partner in the middle of the European Union who would allow them to use their home soil to set up shop and start tapping cables from the western most tip of Spain all the way into Russia.

“The operations of the NSA’s analysts in Stuttgart were so successful that the intelligence agency quickly moved to expand its presence. In 2004, the Americans obtained approximately 1,000 square meters (10,750 square feet) of office space in Griesheim to host 59 workers who monitored communications in an effort to “optimize support to Theater operations” of the US Armed Forces. Ten years later, the center, although largely used by the military, has become the NSA’s most important outpost in Europe — with a mandate that goes far beyond providing support for the US military.”

Although Germany doesn’t belong to the now-infamous Five Eyes Collective (a secret treaty signed between five world governments including New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the UK and the US), it seems their spy agency was working just as closely, if not closer, with the NSA as any of the other countries who are entered into the international “no spying allowed” agreement.

Among its various “success stories,” the documents laud how the German government was able to weaken the public’s protection from surveillance. “The German government has changed its interpretation of the G10 law, which protects German citizens’ communications, to allow the BND to be more flexible with the sharing of protected information with foreign partners.” Germany’s G10 law is designed to regulate the circumstances under which its intelligence agencies are allowed to break Article 10 of the German constitution, which is supposed to guarantee the privacy of letters and telecommunications within the country.

No word from Angela Merkel’s office yet on how this revelation affects her view of the United States and their efforts to tap her phones.

From what these latest leaks reveal, it’s not much of a stretch to assume that most of her initial outrage over the incident likely came from the fact that her faithful BND has coordinated so closely with the NSA in the past, and she had to to find out the hard way that the NSA never trusted her with the responsibility to manage that link safely in the first place.

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