Cyber Security

NSA ‘In Bed Together with the Germans’

In an interview, Edward Snowden accuses the National Security Agency of partnering with Germany and other governments in its spying activities. New information also indicates close working ties between the German foreign intelligence agency and the American authority.

In an interview to be published in this week’s issue of SPIEGEL, American intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden criticizes the methods and power of the National Security Agency. Snowden said the NSA people are “in bed together with the Germans.” He added that the NSA’s “Foreign Affairs Directorate” is responsible for partnerships with other countries. The partnerships are organized in a way that authorities in other countries can “insulate their political leaders from the backlash” in the event it becomes public “how grievously they’re violating global privacy.” Telecommunications companies partner with the NSA and people are “normally selected for targeting” based on their “Facebook or webmail content.”

The interview was conducted by American cryptography expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras with the help of encrypted e-mails shortly before Snowden became known globally for his whistleblowing.

SPIEGEL reporting also indicates that cooperation between the NSA and Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, is more intensive than previously known. NSA, for example, provides “analysis tools” for the BND’s signals monitoring of foreign data streams that travel through Germany. Among the BND’s focuses are the Middle East route through which data packets from crisis regions travel. In total, SPIEGEL reported that the BND pulls data from five different nodes that are then analyzed at the foreign intelligence service’s headquarters in Pullach near Munich. BND head Gerhard Schindler confirmed the partnership during a meeting with members of the German parliament’s control committee for intelligence issues.

The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for counter-espionage, is currently investigating whether the NSA has gained access to Internet traffic traveling through Germany. According to information provided by Hans-Georg Maassen, the president of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an initial analysis failed to provide clarity on the issue. “So far, we have no information that Internet nodes in Germany have been spied on by the NSA,” Maassen told SPIEGEL.

At the same time, a new US Army base being built in Germany that is also to be used by the NSA has been approved by German authorities. Currently, a new Consolidated Intelligence center is being built in Wiesbaden. The bug-proof offices and a high-tech control center are being built for $124 million. As soon as the Wiesbaden facility is completed, a complex currently being used in Darmstadt wil be closed. The facilities are being built exclusively by American citizens who have security clearances. Even the material being used to construct the buildings originates from the United States and is guarded throughout the shipping process to Germany.

SPIEGEL

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