Merkel Complicit in Mass Surveillance of Germans

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The German Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt), Berlin. Courtesy: Avda

By Ann-Marie de Veer
Saturday 1 Nov 2014

When the German Bundestag Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the NSA (aka. Untersuchungsausschus ("NSA")) (BTPCI-NSA) began its investigations on the 20 March 2014 their remit was clearly detailed in an inquiry establishment document that identified three key tasks to be addressed:

I. Whether, in what way and on what scale the intelligence services of the “Five Eyes” states (United States of America, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) collected or are collecting data on communication activities (including content-related, subscriber and traffic data), their content and other data-processing actions (including internet use and stored address directories) from, to and in Germany for data retention or used or are using such data collected by public companies or private third parties and to what extent federal agencies, in particular the Federal Government, intelligence services or the Federal Office for Information Security had knowledge of such practices, were involved in them, combated them or possibly exploited them.
II. Whether and to what extent data on communication activities and the contents thereof (in the form of telecommunication or conversations including their subject matter, such as draft legislation or negotiation strategies) of members of the Federal Government, federal staff and members of the German Bundestag or other constitutional bodies of the Federal Republic of Germany was collected or analysed for intelligence purposes by the intelligence services of the states named in point I.
III. Whether recommendations to ensure the protection enshrined in the constitution of the right to determine the disclosure and use of one’s own personal data, to privacy, to the secrecy of telecommunications and the integrity and confidentiality of IT systems and confidential communication in the state sphere are required.

Thus, the framework of the committee's role had been defined, in part, to address the nefarious activities of the Five Eyes (FVEY) states but they soon found themselves involved in a veritable nest of vipers as the catalogue of events that ensued portray:

Early in May 2014 the whistleblower Edward Snowden was invited to testify before the BTPCI-NSA committee but refused to do so via video link stating that if the committee, and by extension the German regime, were serious about investigating this issue they should support him by offering political asylum to obviate the difficult position in which he remains. Subsequently, the committee and Snowden's supporters have vigorously pursued the issue of his asylum through legal channels and even challenged the current German regime who have steadfastly refused to acquiesce in the matter. Nonetheless, the issue remains open and is ongoing to this day.

As the committee's task continued to unfold, with public hearings throughout June and July 2014 focusing on the ramifications of the FVEY surveillance state in respect to constitutional law, international law and the technical aspects involved, followed by testimony from William Binney, a former NSA Technical Director, and Thomas Drake, a former NSA Senior Executive, both the scale and depth of the issues have become much clearer. However, while the committee was beginning to warm to their task there were other events, not unrelated, that also began to emerge.

On the 2 July 2014, a Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) operative named Markus was arrested for selling 218 documents to the CIA, of which at least three referred to the inquiry being undertaken by the BTPCI-NSA. Markus had been working as a double agent for the CIA since 2012. Then, one week later, on the 9 July 2014, another double agent was discovered, this time working for the German Secretary of Defence. Not soon after, the CIA station chief in Germany was ordered to leave the country and flew back to the US on the 18 July 2014. In a finale of diversions for the month of July, a German Parliament technician found that the mobile phones of Roderich Kiesewetter, a member of the BTPCI-NSA committee, plus many others in parliament had been bugged. By who and for how long remains unknown.

Then, in August 2014, Glenn Greenwald, the primary author of the news reports detailing the information sourced by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, refused to give evidence to the inquiry citing the German regimes refusal to countenance asylum for Edward Snowden. Greenwald went on to say that the regime were more concerned about annoying the US than really investigating the issue and he was not willing to take part in a "'ritual'" that "'shall seem like an investigation'".

In September 2014, the committee went on to hear the in-camera testimony of a former operative of the Bad Aibling surveillance monitoring station and two other BND agents. While the details of these meetings are not in the public arena, yet, it was discovered that the German Chancellery had secretly negotiated a contract between the BND and the NSA in 2002 on data sharing that clearly contravened the constitution and was not subject to democratic and parliamentary oversight as is required in such agreements.

Then, on the 4 October 2014, in an investigation by the German newspaper Süddeutsche, they published a report on Operation Eikonal, a mass surveillance programme that operated from 2004 to 2008. The programme collected data from the DE-CIX fibre-optic backbone of the internet in Frankfurt, Germany where it was mirrored and forwarded to the joint BND/NSA monitoring station in Bad Aibling for monitoring and onward transmission to the US. While the programme was terminated in 2008, supposedly because the German Chancellery were concerned about its constitutional implications: the most likely rationale for its demise is because the data was of no practical value to the US regime after passing through the BND filters in Bad Aibling. Of course, the fact remains that the Chancellery once again unilaterally sanctioned an illegal operation without reference to democratic or parliamentary oversight in contravention of the German constitution.

Clearly the BTPCI-NAS committee have been taking their role seriously, as have some of the security and intelligence agencies who have made it very difficult for the US regime to learn about what has been going on in the inquiry. Nonetheless, while their final report promises to be an interesting read it is almost certain that only a heavily redacted version will emerge as the German Chancellery scrambles to obfuscate their complicity.

All roads lead to the German Chancellery.

That the German Chancellor, Merkel, who assumed office in November 2005, is somehow responsible for the actions of her predecessor, Gerhard Schröder is patently absurd but it is equally absurd and utterly inconceivable that she would not have been briefed and thus become fully aware of the actions of her office during her tenure of almost nine years to date. There can be no doubt whatsoever that Merkel knew what had been going on prior to her arrival, and everything else since, and has done absolutely nothing to rectify the situation.

Merkel is complicit in the mass surveillance of the German people.

The irony that a former East German citizen should rise to the highest office in the land of a united Germany and then go on to implement and oversee the wholesale mass surveillance of the entire German population, akin to the STASI, almost beggars belief.

Will Merkel uphold the German constitution and save its people from the spectre of an omnipresent surveillance state or will she take an early exit from the Chancellery and pass through the revolving doors to the UN?

If past performance is an indicator of what the future holds then the German people should prepare themselves for a return of the STASI, in all but name, as they wave goodbye to Merkel boarding a flight bound for New York.

All things are subject to interpretation, whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche