Monday, August 12, 2013


The big ear of the NSA

The US military compound in Griesheim, near Frankfurt, is secured with a tall wire fence topped with barbed wire. The buildings are relatively modest and surrounded by large areas of green space, which has long led local residents to suspect that many of those working at the facility spend much of their time underground -- and that they are engaged in espionage.

The so-called "Dagger Complex" is one of the best protected sites in the German state of Hesse. Griesheim resident Daniel Bangert recently discovered what could happen to those who show a little too much interest in sites like Dagger. In early July, Bangert -- inspired by the leaks of whistleblower Edward Snowden -- used his Facebook account to post an invitation to a "stroll" to the Dagger Complex, for the purpose of "joint research into the threatened habitat of NSA spies." But before he could embark on his outing into the world of espionage, Bangert found himself dealing with the police.

by Larry Geller

The pull-quote above is from  Ally and Target: US Intelligence Watches Germany Closely (der Spiegel, 8/12/2013). It’s worth reading—it shows how the NSA both spies on European countries (in this case, Germany) and also cooperates with them.

Anyone who thinks the NSA is going to be forced out of the spy business has another think coming—they are the engine behind a vast surveillance machine with world-wide reach. If the US doesn’t do this, some other country will.

In the April 2013 summary, the NSA defines its "intelligence priorities" on a scale ranging from "1" (highest interest) to "5" (lowest interest). Not surprisingly, the top targets include China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Germany ranks somewhere in the middle on this priority list, together with France and Japan, but above Italy and Spain. Among the issues listed as being of interest are German foreign policy and questions of economic stability as well as threats to the financial system, both given a priority rating of "3." Other surveillance assignments include subjects like arms exports, new technologies, advanced conventional weapons and international trade, all with a priority of "4." The US spies apparently feel that counter-espionage and the risk of cyber attacks on US infrastructure coming from Germany are not particularly threatening (priority level "5"). The document lists a total of nine areas to be covered by surveillance in Germany.

The article underlines that NSA surveillance objectives are not just to “keep us safe” but include commercial objectives (e.g., exports, new technologies, international trade).


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