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German intelligence spied on US authorities

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The BND (Federal Intelligence Service Germany) has apparently spied with their own selectors against friendly countries and NATO partners. In addition, the Secret Service has political information supplied almost unfiltered to the Americans. Now it has to be checked whether that is in breach of German law.

German intelligence spied on US authorities

Originally appeared at Deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten, translated by Karin exclusively for SouthFront

It came, like it had to come: On 14 October 2015, the German Government informed the parliamentary oversight committee of the Bundestag about the fact that the BND for years employed alongside American also their own search terms, so-called selectors.

It is suspected that it has been violating German law. Until the autumn of 2013, so the suspicion, it was a common practice of the BND, European partners, European and German companies, but also to have spied on US objectives through its own selectors.

Of these recent findings no one can really be surprised, and certainly not the German Federal Chancellery. The task of the BND cannot be to confine itself to inject US selectors in the facilities in Bad Aibling. That would be too little for an intelligence service like the BND. For every intelligent service, as well as the BND, the own resources of information for the international status of a service, is crucial. This is especially true for their own technical enlightenment. The BND own selectors follow exactly this logic. Intelligence services are living from the exchange of information – not always with their own government and not always within the limit of the assignment. What is therefore more obvious than the formation and feed of BND own selectors.

The results and findings thereof may be exchanged on the services market. So far so good. The problem is that the BND has clearly chosen selectors, which suggests an extensive espionage activities against partner states, whether NATO or EU, and even against its own economic activity and therefore policy. This finding comes at a time where previously only the NSA was in Europe on media pillory. It is also typical of Germany that such a discussion about their own services is held in the media. The same would be inconceivable in the UK and France. Even in Austria, the term of the selectors associated with the installations for the interception of communications on Austrian territory did not even matter. It would also be absurd to assume that the Austrian intelligence structures would ever go through the trouble subjected to identify their own selectors. Or would it?

And once again it will be clarified in the wrong direction. The crucial question in this context is, whether the results of the evaluation of national selectors were shared with other services and whether the federal government (s) was aware of (n). This raises the question of principle on the legality of operations of intelligence work in Germany and elsewhere.

The deputies of the Parliamentary Control Panel to the BND internal selectors affair intend to set up a task force and to send to Pullach. There are too many questions left open, such as whether the supply of the selectors were there, let it be ours, or the NSA’s and if they are violating German laws. The analysis of the BND internal selectors is much more explosive than the analysis of the NSA selectors.

With the establishment of an external “expert” on the part of the federal government it had intended to subject the NSA selectors to scrutiny. It will turn out that it will not be possible, even for a former judge at the Federal Administrative Court Kurt Graulich, to review the mass of the NSA selectors for their relevance. Selectors are not easy identifiable, in any event, the assistance of the NSA is necessary for a comprehensive identification, legal examination and unambiguous assignment of these selectors. Here doubts are quite justified if the NSA stands for such cooperation is available or whether it is at all politically opportune to seek such cooperation. Probably not.

The situation presents a different view on the BND internal selectors. It remains to be seen whether the German government is willing to give information to the control committee of the German Bundestag. Already in September was the extensive correspondence of the Control Committee of the BND for the German parliament not available because the BND accidentally destroyed a large amount of data material in Pullach, reports Die Zeit on 24 09. 2015th

Behind the disclosure of the BND own selectors hides an explosive question; has the German Government neglected its oversight duty to the BND; Furthermore, is the German Government guilty that the BND supplied the American intelligence service political, economic and personal information almost unfiltered. It is still not clear how large the number of input from the US selectors actually was. And in the qualitative assessment of the BND internal selectors one is just at the beginning.

So far, it is clear that the selectors preceding G10 filter have not put in strict enough controls. G10 filters should prevent German law to be violated by these selectors. According to the previous state of knowledge, these filters were technically already unable to do so. The BND and the German Government simply tolerated this shortcoming. However, this is only one aspect of this affair, which will shed light to the extent to which the BND let itself being misused as a European branch of the American interests in Europe and why this was allowed. The longer this affair lasts, the more it is understandable why the German Federal government so far has acted passively in investigating this affair.

Dr. Gert R. Polli; 2002-2008 President of the Federal Office for State Protection and Counter-Terrorism of the Republic of Austria.

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