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Government United States Technology

German Intelligence Helped NSA Spy On EU Politicians and Companies 80

An anonymous reader writes: We've known for some time already that intelligence agencies operate beyond rules, laws, and regulations. Now, we learn that the NSA and the German intelligence service, BND, lied and withheld information about misuse from the German Chancellor's Office.

"The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism "Memorandum of Agreement" on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA's requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden's revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed. According to Der Spiegel, investigators found that the BND had provided information on around 2,000 selectors that were clearly against European and German interests. Not only were European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians—including German ones.

However, the BND did not inform the German Chancellor's office, which only found out about the misuse of the selector request system in March 2015. Instead, the BND simply asked the NSA to make requests that were fully covered by the anti-terrorism agreement between the two countries. According to Die Zeit, this was because the BND was worried that the NSA might curtail the flow of its own intelligence data to the German secret services if the selector scheme became embroiled in controversy.
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German Intelligence Helped NSA Spy On EU Politicians and Companies

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  • it we don't reign this in no one will be free.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2015 @01:53PM (#49546811)

      Most people don't study their Roman history. Hydra [youtube.com] is a more accessible metaphor.

      • I believe the standard reply the BND office gave to the Chancellor's office is "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" or the German equivalent.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot&hackish,org> on Friday April 24, 2015 @01:34PM (#49546727)

    German intelligence has been interested in a closer alliance with the "Five Eyes" group of US-led intelligence agencies, which originally consisted of the main anglophone countries (US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand). When it was expanded in 2009 to "nine eyes" with the addition of Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Norway, there was supposedly some grumbling [nymag.com] from Germany about being left out.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Meanwhile, they operated outside the legal framework.

      Should we expect any arrests? Convictions? Anything?

    • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @09:02PM (#49549051) Homepage

      Here is a question and what point does a countries espionage agents cease to be their agents and become more accurately double agents working for another country. So did German intelligence do this or did German nationals working as American espionage agents do this. The law would say, that they were not German Agents but American agents who happened to be German nationals working in German intelligence services. The exact same thing applies to most of the others in one eyed, eight blind mice group.

      Those double agents are not working in the interests of their country, they are working in the interests of the corrupt US corporations that control the US government. Imagine nine countries intelligence services all managing the global fuck up that has been the 'WAR ON TERROR'. Now how many of them were actually treasonously 'in the know'.

      • by Trepidity ( 597 )

        That's more or less what West Germany has been founded on since the late '40s. Germany traded its sovereignty for an end to denazification. The deal was: 1) a bunch of ex-Nazis would be allowed to remain in the FRG government; but 2) in return, they would work for the USA.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        Those double agents are not working in the interests of their country, they are working in the interests of the corrupt US corporations that control the US government.

        You went way off the rails here. NSA has already done a lot to undermine corrupt and non-corrupt US corporations and nothing has been done about it. They still get their usual captive revenue stream (which let us note, will flow no matter how unhappy the business world gets about it). Just because large corporations are more useful to the US intelligence community than you are doesn't mean that they're in charge. It just means that the large corporation has some opportunity for profit as long as they contin

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Social democracies, one person one vote, corporations one person billions of votes, the other person fucking none. So yeah PR=B$. I would much rather public governance than private governance and that is the real issue in question.

          • by khallow ( 566160 )

            Social democracies, one person one vote, corporations one person billions of votes, the other person fucking none.

            I get that corporations aren't social democracies. What I don't get here is why that is relevant here, especially in governance situations that are neither social democracies or corporations.

      • Those double agents are not working in the interests of their country, they are working in the interests of the corrupt US corporations that control the US government.

        You keep spewing this rhetoric, but could you name exactly which corporations you're talking about, and what it is specifically that you think they control? That would be helpful since there are thousands of corporations, and they often hav conflicting interests. Doing any sort of coordination among them would be difficult, and there would be records that someone should have been able to produce by now. That is something you never address, so I'm asking: where is your proof of this massive puppet show th

    • Or the more likely case is that German Intelligence are traitors to their own country.

  • EADS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @01:43PM (#49546753)

    And when the NSA needs help interpreting intercepted technical data, for example, it subcontracts with local 'domain experts'. In the aviation biz, that would be Boeing. So Airbus, good luck with those bids for aircraft sales.

    If you think that a large part of what the NSA and CIA do isn't plain old economic espionage, I've got swamp land in Florida to sell you.

    • Re:EADS (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2015 @01:53PM (#49546807)

      People think the NSA is a government organization. It's not really anymore. It's a captured entity essentially run by private security services contractors. It's in their best economic interest to undermine your freedom so they can make a buck.

      They tell congress and the president that there are terrorists everywhere, in every network, and on every phone call. In turn, they get a blank check an zero oversight. No audits. Those that can lie and get away with it always do.

      Economic espionage isn't just likely, it's inevitable.

      Remember, Snowden was a contractor. Just a flunky hired by a company that had access to sensitive data because of lax oversight.

      What if Snowden sold his info to Chinese companies instead of given it to wikileaks? Or American companies? Or Russian ones? We're lucky he did the right thing but you're stupid if you believe someone else already hasn't been using their access to make a buck.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 )

        It can well be a government organization, considering that the government is essentially run by the private sector.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Jesus, Jon Oliver was right. Hint: Snowden had (and has) nothing to do with Wikileaks.

        • Jesus, Jon Oliver was right. Hint: Snowden had (and has) nothing to do with Wikileaks.

          Not true. You're ignoring the help Assange and Wikileaks gave Snowden.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Ralph Wiggam ( 22354 )

      The CIA and NSA forced Airbus to build huge planes that nobody wants, over budget and behind schedule? Wow. They're really good.

    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      Before 9/11, CIA have admitted their most imporant task was to spy for american companies. I bet today it is the same. Poor Germans.

      • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

        We are not that poor. Obviously, we can pay our oversight ourselves while other countries rely on the US to pay for the spying on them.

      • Do you have a source for that, or are you making it up?

        Because the CIA has never actually admitted it does economic espionage. It has never actually been caught doing economic espionage (ie: spying on a foreign private business organization, and then turning the data over to a US, private, business organization). It has done shit like support non-Americans who want to shoot their President (who happens to oppose US economic/political interests), but that's not economic espionage. It's standard skullduggery.

    • Thing is economic espionage is really easy to detect. You know when you've lost a contract at the last minute due to Exxon putting in a rush bid that was $1 better then yours. That happens a few times and you can't prove you're being spied upon by Exon in any single case, but you know precisely what happened. There's a reason the French are notorious for economic espionage, despite never having a Snowden.

      The only confirmed case where the US actually did use spy-information to aid a private company in it's b

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @01:43PM (#49546755) Homepage
    NSA: hey guise we need you to spy on some folks for us, no biggie.
    BND: should we check these targets to make sure, you know, no crazy treaties might get everyone in trouble?
    NSA: Nah we're cool we checked them first.
    Snowden: No you didn't.
    BND: uh....what
    NSA: HAH! never mind that guy hes such a kidder
    Glen Greenwald: Uh...no he isnt...not according to this press release.
    BND: ...verdammt noch mal.
  • It all makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aaron4801 ( 3007881 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @02:09PM (#49546903)
    This is why they didn't make a bigger deal of the Angela Merkel eavesdropping by the US. They were doing the same thing.
    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Most likely they were doing it.

    • Honestly, I don't know why people don't expect governments to spy on each other, even if they are allies. Every country plays for advantages, and it's not impossible for an ally to setup a politician on one side then defect to another side's position to earn some points. You have to be confident that what a politician is saying is what they actually intend to say.

      Truthfully, no nation has friends. They're all frenemies at best.

    • no, they were helping the us do it for a chance to stick their fingers in that dirty pie just like everyone else.
  • Short memories (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @02:15PM (#49546935)

    Damn, lots of Stasi victims are still of working age even. You'd hope the Germans had developed more antibodies against this crap.

    • Damn, lots of Stasi victims are still of working age even. You'd hope the Germans had developed more antibodies against this crap.

      I'm guessing is more of a genetic predisposition towards rather than something they caught post - WWII.

      • Re:Short memories (Score:5, Insightful)

        by currently_awake ( 1248758 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @03:23PM (#49547327)
        Germans are very organized people, very law abiding and rules oriented. It makes them great engineers, but also gives them tunnel vision about the reasons behind those rules. Sometimes you have to question the rules though, because people make mistakes and pass bad rules.
        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          Very much this. There is a saying in Germany: "The revolution will not happen here, because it is not legal to step on the lawn." (The spirit is that honoring the "Keep of the grass!" sign is perceived to be far, far more important than to overthrow a government that has it coming....)

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      Well, yes, the general public has, but it seems that our new government adopted a lot of those Stasi habits again. Wasn't Merkel an FDJ figure? Maybe she got infected then. Alternatively, the US knows something and she is only a puppet.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Germans are essentially stupid when it comes to totalitarianism in any form. After all, this is the country that hat to start and lose _two_ world wars in order to find out that they are may not be the master-race. Also, revolutions will not happen in Germany, because they are forbidden by law.

      (Caveat: I grew up there and may know what I am talking about.)

      • Germans are essentially stupid when it comes to totalitarianism in any form. After all, this is the country that hat to start and lose _two_ world wars in order to find out that they are may not be the master-race.

        Beim dritten Mal ist ein Charme!

  • by thephoenixhack ( 3639739 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @02:26PM (#49546997)
    To say NSA lied is not supported by the articles linked in the summary. We have enough to criticize NSA about without exaggerating the facts to fit our desire to believe it is a monolithically monstrous organization whose agents use the U.S. Constitution for toilet paper. And when we go beyond the facts, any legitimate criticism is diluted, because what we say is easily swept aside as a pile of prejudice from conspiracy theorists.

    The BND didn't do its job of actually reviewing the selectors. Much like U.S. congressional and judicial oversight both failed to reign in controversial NSA programs. I can't help but wonder sometimes what the Americans at NSA think about all this. Call me heretical, but I bet at least some of them are motivated by a desire to thwart the next 9/11, and want to do so in the right way, too. But intelligence is a contact sport, and laws and executive orders are often ambiguous. So are they like the athletes that have to ratchet up the aggression until the officials start calling penalties before the limits are truly known?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2015 @03:12PM (#49547261)

      The editor changed the leading sentences, which I wrote, and this leads to a misunderstanding. It was the BSD (under direction/coercion from the NSA) that lied and withheld information from the Chancellor. More specifically, they covered up thousands of cases of misuse and only reported one.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      It looks like the NSA just tried some things, but the BND then became complicit in domestic political and economic espionage (usually something regarded as bad as terrorism) by completely failing its due-diligence requirements by not looking at what exactly the NSA asked for. Or if some of them knew, that may well be treason.

      As Germany is a basically a banana-republic politically these days, I predict nobody will be punished though and at the most some people will get sacked. It may still help to wake up so

  • traitors (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @02:52PM (#49547153) Homepage Journal

    They are traitors and should be jailed. In fact, since they believe they're involved in a "war on terror", maybe we should try them for treason under military law.

    Also, I wouldn't trust the statement that the chancellors office didn't know anything.

  • "However, the BND did not inform the German Chancellor's office,"
    Can you say plausible deniability?

  • by prefec2 ( 875483 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @04:10PM (#49547691)

    Instead of having to spy on the EU themselves, the NSA hires BND to do it for them. Super. Actually, a satire magazine in Germany might have an answer to that why the BND spied on the EU and told the Us its findings. The job of the BND is called Auslandsaufklärung which can be misunderstood as enlighten foreign countries instead of be enlightened about foreign countries. As they have acted dumb before, it is possible that this is the correct solution and they are not a bunch of illegal, uncontrolled traitors. BTW their budget increased in recent years while all others shrunk. The bitter truth is that most likely the present German foreign minister knew about that and so did chancellor Merkel and they will get away with that treason.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The US West German and German links go back generations.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      After the 1970's East Germany was not of any new interest to the UK and USA as all Soviet and East German signals where fully tracked. West Germany policy on the US and UK was of more interest to the US and UK.
      Tornado jet sales, the UK East German diplomatic recognition, West German political moves surrounding the UK role in the Common Market.
      Generations of West German experts he
  • economic interests (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Friday April 24, 2015 @08:21PM (#49548895)

    " European businesses such as the giant aerospace and defense company EADS, best-known as the manufacturer of the Airbus planes, targeted, so were European politicians"

    Why would you spy on private companies and your allies? The only reason that comes to my mind is economic gain... The NSA, etc serve economic interests, not safety.

    • Many European companies did business with Saddam's Iraq just as they do now with Iran, and other unsavory regimes.
      Some of that business has been lucrative arms or technology business, or to strengthen the miliary or economy. Those are matters of interest to other governments that are being attacked by those countries.
      People here keep claiming that government corruption is widespread, and their leaders can't be trusted. If that is so, don't you think other countries would like to know what is really going

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