Germany Kicks Top US Intelligence Officer Out

…Hapless official lands in Brazil’s net. But seriously, folks:

“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States Embassy has been asked to leave Germany,” a government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in a statement.

German officials have been frustrated in their efforts to receive clarification from Washington since last summer, when it was reported that the National Security Agency had been monitoring the digital communications of millions of Germans. The government tamped down that uproar, but fury flared anew when it was revealed last fall that the N.S.A. had been monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

Although President Obama has offered assurances that the United States will no longer spy on Germany, two cases of suspected American espionage that have come to light in the past eight days have sparked a fresh round of outrage.

The newest cases apparently refer to a pair of old-fashioned human spies rather than digital eavesdropping. Fascinating. Feel free to discuss that or whatever.






109 replies
  1. 1
    Trollhattan says:

    The German goal-keeper is a CIA plant–pass it on.

    One good neckrub and we’ll patch this right up.

  2. 2
    Cacti says:

    You mean Germany doesn’t like it when a member of their Defense Ministry stovepipes classified information to a foreign country?

    No way!

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    There are ongoing reports in the German press of other intrusions and surveillance. For example, from last week:

    It is a small server that looks like any of the other dozens in the same row. It is in a large room devoted to computers and computer storage, just like every other room in this industrial park building on Am Tower Street just outside the city of Nuremberg. That the grey building is surrounded by barbed wire seems to indicate that the servers’ provider is working hard to secure their customers’ data.
     
    Yet despite these efforts, one of the servers is targeted by the NSA.
    [snip]
    Months of investigation by the German public television broadcasters NDR and WDR, drawing on exclusive access to top secret NSA source code, interviews with former NSA employees, and the review of secret documents of the German government reveal that not only is the server in Nuremberg under observation by the NSA, but so is virtually anyone who has taken an interest in several well-known privacy software systems. Source

    Source code from the NSA’s XKeyscore program, published today by German public broadcasters NDR and WDR, shows the US intelligence services specifically monitoring connections to a server on the premises of the internationally renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Source

  4. 4
    NCSteve says:

    Given that Germany only held the European Union, the second most important currency in the world and the whole fucking global economy at the precipice of disaster for two long years while it endeavored to torment those careless, feckless Greeks, Spaniards and Italians into prosperity and stave off what anyone should have realized was an imminant outbreak of hyper-inflation, I can’t for the life of me imagine why the U.S. government would have been anxious to get some idea of what the fuck was actually going through their hard square heads.

  5. 5
    Cervantes says:

    @NotMax: That they are monitoring Tor/Dingledine is not a secret they have succeeded in keeping from certain people at MIT.

  6. 6
    droog says:

    @NCSteve:

    1. You honestly believe the USA is spying on Germany’s defence ministry to safeguard an ailing Greek economy?

    2. You honestly believe Germany’s interest in keeping the Euro strong at the expense of the people is morally different from Geithner’s interest to use HARP to “foam the runway” for ailing banks coming in for a crash landing?

    Or maybe you’re right. Maybe the USA was spying on Germany to copy their terrible ideas. Why re-invent the wheel of fuckedupedness?

  7. 7
    LAC says:

    @Cacti: wait a damn minute. Spying? In another country? What is that?

    :-)

  8. 8
    Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name) says:

    @droog: Holy misreading, Batman.

  9. 9
    Karen in GA says:

    Hapless official lands in Brazil’s net.

    I laughed.

  10. 10
    Karen in GA says:

    @droog: Can’t speak for NCSteve, but I thought the key part of that paragraph was

    Given that Germany only held the European Union, the second most important currency in the world and the whole fucking global economy at the precipice of disaster for two long years while it endeavored to torment

    ETA:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): What you said.

  11. 11
    C.V. Danes says:

    Dear Germany,

    We are not spying on you. Really. You can trust us. Please accept this Cisco router as a token of our sincerity.

    Regards,

    NSA

  12. 12
    Someguy says:

    @NotMax: There are ongoing reports in the German press of other intrusions and surveillance. For example, from last week:

    Yeah, well, channelling about half the commentariat here, “you can’t prove that’s happening so stop alleging it’s true. PWNED!!! Greenwald suxxor.

    I’m getting the sense we’re preparing to declare war on Germany over soccercrimes, and offenses against the Obama foreign policy.

  13. 13
    Botsplainer says:

    Germany isn’t really an ally. Its an enemy we hold close, just in case it needs a boot on its neck again.

  14. 14
    Lavocat says:

    So, in other words: “Sure, sure, we lied before, but we’re not lying now – HONEST!”

    I find this hilarious actually.

    Imagine the shitstorm that would DEFINTELY ensue if the roles were reversed.

    D’OH!

  15. 15
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Botsplainer: WTF?

  16. 16
    Elie says:

    @NCSteve:

    I hear THAT.

    But no matter — for so many its BAD for the US to gather information secretly — ALWAYS bad.

    Ask Snowden, our new moral leader and hero on gathering any information of any kind…

  17. 17
    hoodie says:

    Like this is any big shock, we’ve had spies there forever, originally tasked with monitoring Soviet infiltration into the German government during the Cold War. No doubt pretty useless now, but the US may have kept doing it out of habit and mission mutation that arises from a desire to maintain a bureaucracy that has outlived its original mission. You have to wonder why the Germans are making a big deal out of it now. Is this part of asserting themselves as the alpha dog in the EU and asserting some degree of independence from the US now that Russia is not a real threat to them?

  18. 18
    Glocksman says:

    @Lavocat:

    I would be highly surprised if the Germans weren’t doing the exact same thing to us.
    They’re just better at keeping it secret is all.

  19. 19
    Mandalay says:

    @NCSteve:

    I can’t for the life of me imagine why the U.S. government would have been anxious to get some idea of what the fuck was actually going through their hard square heads.

    Because Germany’s actions in Europe have repercussions for the United States, and advance knowledge of those proposed actions is helpful to the United States.

    SATSQ.

  20. 20
    LAC says:

    @C.V. Danes: Dear US : Thank you! I am so glad we all signed the “never ever ever spy on each other again” note and pinky swear to it. If you do not mind, Rolf has some wiring to redo in your embassy. It won’t take long”

    All the best, Germany

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @hoodie:

    You have to wonder why the Germans are making a big deal out of it now.

    Because now Germany can embarrass us on the world stage with proof provided to them by — wait for it — Ed Snowden. Who of course was totally only interested in domestic spying in the US and had no interest in getting us in trouble for spying on foreign countries. This is just collateral damage, don’t’cha know?

  22. 22
  23. 23
    Elie says:

    @Glocksman:

    Exactly

  24. 24
    Cacti says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Germany isn’t really an ally. Its an enemy we hold close, just in case it needs a boot on its neck again.

    Pretty much.

    West Germany became our “friend” shortly after their third reich had been crushed into dust, and the alternative was Stalin and the Soviet bloc.

    Do a survey of the nations of the world, and see how many would enter a “Five Eyes” type of intelligence sharing pact with Germany.

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    FOR KAY:

    North Carolina voter law hurts African Americans: Justice Department

    By Colleen Jenkins
    WINSTON-SALEM N.C.
    Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:04pm EDT

    (Reuters) – North Carolina’s decision to reduce early voting days and eliminate same-day registration will cause irreparable harm to African Americans if not halted ahead of the midterm elections in November, a Justice Department lawyer argued on Thursday.

    The U.S. judge hearing final arguments in Winston-Salem has not indicated when he will rule on a preliminary injunction sought by the federal government and civil rights groups challenging the sweeping voter law changes passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature last year.

    …The law shortened the early voting period by seven days, ended same-day registration, banned provisional ballots cast outside the correct precinct from being counted and ended a program allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.

    “African Americans came to rely on these mechanisms of voting and the legislature knew that,” Justice Department lawyer Bert Russ said.

    Lawmakers “took a sledgehammer to the early voting period when no one was asking for these changes,” he added.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....0H20140710

  26. 26
    droog says:

    @Omnes Omnibus (the first of his name): @Karen in GA:

    I got that the first time. The USA isn’t spying Germany’s defence ministry for the benefit of the Greeks or the global economy. They’re doing that because of what Atrios says: The spy business is a business that keeps growing un-checked.

    The allegations are that Merkel’s phone may have been tapped as far back as 2002. Eurozone and restructuring sovereign debt in 2008-2012 have nothing to do with it.

    The Germans were going to be targeted no matter what because for the grifters in the eavesdropping business spying is an end and not a means to an end.

    Searching around for the German policies that don’t agree with our liberal views makes no sense because the USA didn’t necessarily disagree with Germany. In many cases they supported them. Go back to 2012 and check what Geithner thought about restructuring Ireland’s debt, or how he believed in keeping Greece in the Eurozone even thought sensible economists like Stiglitz felt it was prolonging their hurt. We may feel Germany was cruel, but our opinions aren’t what drove the USA to hire these guys. Specific policies from Germany were not a catalyst.

  27. 27
    Aardvark Cheeselog says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    @Botsplainer: WTF?

    You know, I have long thought that the people who say things like “why should we keep defending the Germans, they should take care of that themselves” do not appreciate that as long as US troops are stationed in Germany, the Germans have no excuse to develop a nuclear arsenal. Same goes for Japan.

  28. 28
    lamh36 says:

    “@NerdyWonka: Pres. Obama: “The best thing you can say about the Republicans in Congress – so far this year they have not shut down the government!”

    BURN”

  29. 29
    C.V. Danes says:

    @LAC:

    Dear Germany,

    Thanks! We would ask that you do not sub-contract development out to Russia. We’ve had unauthorized surveillance issues with buildings they have developed for us in the past.

    NSA

  30. 30
    ericblair says:

    @hoodie:

    You have to wonder why the Germans are making a big deal out of it now. Is this part of asserting themselves as the alpha dog in the EU and asserting some degree of independence from the US now that Russia is not a real threat to them?

    When (not if) another Western power is caught spying in the US, it’s handled quietly, so this is indeed different. I’m not sure from the stuff I’ve read whether the German media were forcing the government’s hand, but it doesn’t look like it.

    My theory on why the big stink is Ukraine. Germany needs a lot of gas, oil and coal from Russia: they shut down their nuke plants without a really clear idea what was going to replace it, and wonder of wonders it turned out to be more imported carbon fuels. This has made them rather reluctant to confront Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, which has pissed the other Western governments off quite a bit. Making a stink over a spying case gives them an excuse to take their ball and go sit in the corner until Ukraine blows over.

  31. 31
    droog says:

    Correction: I wrote HARP when I meant HAMP.

  32. 32
    Belafon says:

    @lamh36: If you can’t say something nice about someone, say something sarcastic.

  33. 33
    Cacti says:

    @Someguy:

    There are ongoing reports in the German press of other intrusions and surveillance

    Yes, we know.

    Before debil America invented spycraft circa 2000, the world had enjoyed a 20th century of peace and cooperation that historians refer to as the Pax Germanica.

  34. 34
    WaterGirl says:

    I just read that Joe Biden will be the keynote speaker at NetRoots next week. Kay, I am so jealous!

  35. 35
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Aardvark Cheeselog: Yeah, that’s a good reason to spend hundreds of billions of dollars maintaining bases and forces in countries we crushed on a battlefield 70 years ago. It’s not like we need that money to rebuild Detroit or anything.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Of the various overseas bases, I do think that Germany is one of the most defensible in terms of security. They started two world wars within about 30 years, so it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on them.

    And Japan’s recent right-wing rumblings about getting their own military is making me a little nervous, too. Keeping US troops there as “defense” is a hell of a lot cheaper than fighting another war with them would be.

  37. 37
    Belafon says:

    @Betty Cracker: We don’t need that money to rebuild Detroit. We need the wealthy to pay for the benefits they get from being here.

  38. 38
    Bob In Portland says:

    @Botsplainer: True. And since the BND and CIA go waaaaaay back, it’s kind of hard to think that any of this is a surprise to Merkel.

    I suspect that these are outward signs that Germany and the US’s strategic goals are different enough now that there may be a split. Frank Capra’s 1943 film THE NAZIS STRIKE outlines the Nazi “earth island” strategy, which actually dovetails into what the US has been doing in Central Asia since Carter, that is, control that big sink of oil and gas there. Germany has managed hegemony over the European continent with banks and currency, much as was predicted when the Euro came to be.

    But Germany doesn’t want to be dependent on the US for energy. They don’t want to be dependent on Russia either, but would their nation’s future be better under the US’s thumb?

    Germany and the US’s intelligence have been so incestuous since WWII that it would require major surgery to separate the two, which is what seems to be happening here.

  39. 39
    David Koch says:

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?

    They kicked out Colonel Hogan?!

    But he was only wiretapping Klink’s office!

  40. 40
    Citizen_X says:

    @ericblair:

    Germany needs a lot of gas, oil and coal from Russia: they shut down their nuke plants without a really clear idea what was going to replace it, and wonder of wonders it turned out to be more imported carbon fuels.

    QFT. Personally, I think that is one of the stupidest fucking decisions made by a major power in recent years.

    (By “recent,” I don’t mean going back to 2003, BTW.)

  41. 41
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @ericblair: How can Germany be reluctant to piss off Russia and hell-bent on annexing the Ukraine at the same time?

    (The latter is something I’ve been hearing constantly — I think it has something to do with neo-Nazis, the European Central Bank, the IMF, the National Endowment for Democracy, Angela Merkel and Victoria Nuland. And possibly HAARP and chemtrails…)

  42. 42
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Mnemosyne: Not to get all, IDK, Pat Buchannany here, but in neither of those World Wars did Germany actually do much to try to attack us. They did do a lot to attack Russia and France both times, though.

  43. 43
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, I can think of a country that has started pointless, bloody, ruinous wars for no good reason much more recently than that. The USA bears watching!

  44. 44
    Cacti says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Speaking of IMFneonazichemtrailfascists, I haven’t seen BIP in a while.

    New assignment from the politburo?

  45. 45
    LAC says:

    @C.V. Danes: dear USA: no problem. I hope you understand that our outrage is genuine because we have never been a part of espionage in any part of the world. Like, ever. Seriously , we thought the NSA stood for the National Soccer Association. Spying is, how do you say, yucky.

  46. 46
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Belafon: THIS.

    The 1% consists of parasites. Deal with them.

  47. 47
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Betty Cracker: This, too. The US does bear watching, because we behaved in 2003 the way Germany and Japan behaved in the 30’s.

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Suffern ACE: Um, Germany declared war on the US in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. This was one of Hitler’s more ridiculous unforced errors, as it gave FDR exactly what he needed: a cassus belli for a Europe First strategy.

  49. 49
    ericblair says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    How can Germany be reluctant to piss off Russia and hell-bent on annexing the Ukraine at the same time?

    Well, the freedom-loving anti-fascist Donbas separatists are the ones sporting huge swastika and Hitler tattoos, so I guess it’s just Bizarro World over there. Or there’s something in the water.

  50. 50
    AxelFoley says:

    Let me see if I understand, dudebros:

    U.S. spying on other countries = bad

    Other countries spying on U.S. = meh, countries spy on each other all the time

    Did I get it right?

  51. 51
    lamh36 says:

    “@PressSec: POTUS to GOPers in Congress: I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.”

  52. 52
    lol says:

    Aldrich Ames and Richard Hanssen were just blowing the whistle on illegal American activities overseas too.

    The difference is that instead of spreading it all over the press, they quietly informed the victims.

    Why does no one stand for these champions of transparency?

  53. 53
    Cacti says:

    @AxelFoley:

    Yep, you pretty well got it.

    Although recently, we’ve had some US/Nazi Germany “both sides do it” comparisons that would make the corpse of the late David Broder blush.

  54. 54
    NCSteve says:

    @droog: I honestly believe the U.S. was spying on Angela Merkel in no small part because she held the global economy at the edge of the precipice (albeit a precipice Americans created with CDO’s and debt default swaps) with economic policies that made no sense and that were contrary to what the Fed was doing and we really were kind of interested as to what the heck was actually going through her head. And I cannot, for the life of me, understand the smelling salt sniffing and pearl clutching that’s been going on in the U.S. about it. Yes, we haven’t outed any German spies in the U.S., so their population gets to pretend to be morally superior to us terrible, no good, awful Yanks, and oh so very hurt, but FFS, gathering information regarding the intentions and motivations of foreign heads of state, including the friendly ones, is why nations have intelligence agencies.

  55. 55
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Well, that’s not a comparison I would make. But I do find the idea that we should camp out indefinitely in other countries that are now staunch allies because they started wars 70 years ago absurd, particularly given our own much more recent albeit smaller scale but still pointless and evil warmongering in places like Iraq and Vietnam.

  56. 56
    Betty Cracker says:

    @AxelFoley: Link?

  57. 57
    RareSanity says:

    I usually avoid the comment section on any post dealing with the NSA/spying/Snowden/Greenwald because of the inevitable dumpster fire they will turn into…but I’m curious about one point of view that is common throughout all of them.

    It’s the, “Pffft, like this should surprise anyone. Every country does this/Everyone knows this goes on.”

    Someone that remarks like that seems to approach these subjects with an extremely superficial analysis, and misses a larger point…in my opinion. That point is, if everybody is doing this, why is that it is only the U.S. that is getting caught, regularly, and called out in public?

    Furthermore, if everyone is doing it, why is it that we (the U.S.) aren’t catching other countries doing the same things within our borders? To me, it’s either that other countries aren’t doing the same stuff, are better at doing the same stuff, or we absolutely suck at detecting them doing this stuff.

    So to someone that holds this view on these matters, do you care to explain what is going on? Is it that other countries really aren’t “doing the same thing”, or is that not only do we (the U.S.) completely suck at spying (i.e. we keep getting caught), but we also completely suck at catching others spying on us?

    My personal opinion?

    The U.S. is doing orders of magnitude more spying on other countries than what those countries are performing on us. In addition, it’s not just because we have some ridiculous technology advantage that others don’t that allows it. It’s because the NSA is really being a huge dick to all of humanity, trying to monitor every human being on the face of the earth.

    I could be wrong…but dammit, that’s how I feel…

  58. 58
    ericblair says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    The US does bear watching, because we behaved in 2003 the way Germany and Japan behaved in the 30′s.

    Sure, we do bear watching. There’s a pretty good argument that a certain level of mutual spying tamps down tensions by letting governments have an independent way of confirming what another country is doing besides listening to an ambassador blow smoke up their ass. If you’re trying to get information that could be used to seriously harm that country it’s another thing, and of course the line isn’t always clear, and blowback can be a bitch if you’re not careful (and even if you are).

    If we had listened to actual intelligence about what was going on in Iraq in 2003 instead of a bunch of bullshit from committed warmongers, we’d have correctly concluded there was no WMD program and no cause to invade. Intelligence gathering and analysis was the Bush administration’s enemy.

  59. 59
    C.V. Danes says:

    @RareSanity:

    My personal opinion?

    The U.S. is doing orders of magnitude more spying on other countries than what those countries are performing on us. In addition, it’s not just because we have some ridiculous technology advantage that others don’t that allows it. It’s because the NSA is really being a huge dick to all of humanity, trying to monitor every human being on the face of the earth.

    I could be wrong, but dammit, that’s how I feel…

    I think you have pretty much hit the nail on the head, in my humble opinion.

  60. 60
    Tripod says:

    Fire Klinsmann.

  61. 61
    Cervantes says:

    @Betty Cracker: Now that’s funny!

  62. 62
    Cacti says:

    @RareSanity:

    I could be wrong…but dammit, that’s how I feel…

    And feelings, not facts, are what really matter, right?

    The current Teutonic outrage is about a member of their Defense Ministry feeding intel to the US.

    You know, the sort of thing that their parliament members have been giving Edward Snowden kudos for?

  63. 63
    C.V. Danes says:

    @LAC:

    Dear Germany,

    Indeed so. If we could ever find evidence of Germany’s spying on US citizens on our soil, we would be equally outraged, as that is something that we consider within our jurisdiction.

    NSA

  64. 64
    ericblair says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    But I do find the idea that we should camp out indefinitely in other countries that are now staunch allies because they started wars 70 years ago absurd

    Except that’s not the reason we have them: they’re intended to be forward strategic bases where we can stage materiel and operations for coalition activities in Europe and Africa. If you want to get cynical, it’s to make the Germans happy by pumping money into the local economy and also to have cushy foreign postings for US military and DoD civilians. The Luftwaffe has some of their units posted in New Mexico and (I think) still a little facility of their own at Dulles Airport, but nothing like what we’ve got over there.

  65. 65
    RareSanity says:

    @Cacti:

    And feelings, not facts, are what really matter, right?

    Nice redirect…ignore the main subject of the comment, and go straight for the low hanging fruit. Ever thought of running for office?

    The current Teutonic outrage is about a member of their Defense Ministry feeding intel to the US.

    …and once again you show that you can’t see the forest for the trees.

    Yes, this is the current outrage, but my comment clearly asked why almost all of the recent such outrages, are other countries catching the U.S., and not the U.S. ever catching another country “doing the same thing” with in its’ borders?

  66. 66
    ericblair says:

    @RareSanity:

    other countries catching the U.S., and not the U.S. ever catching another country “doing the same thing” with in its’ borders?

    We do. You don’t hear about it.

  67. 67
    Mnemosyne says:

    @NCSteve:

    IIRC, the original surveillance that started in 2002 was when it looked like she was going to be elected prime minister and — I shit you not — the Bush administration was convinced that she was a communist spy because she had been born and raised in East Germany. Because no one loves communism more than the people who overthrew it in 1989, amirite?

  68. 68
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RareSanity:

    Yes, this is the current outrage, but my comment clearly asked why almost all of the recent such outrages, are other countries catching the U.S., and not the U.S. ever catching another country “doing the same thing” with in its’ borders?

    Because Edward Snowden released information about US spying overseas, including this embarrassing information about Merkel. In fact, the majority of the Snowden information that has been released has been about overseas spying in other countries, not domestic spying inside the US.

  69. 69
    Betty Cracker says:

    @ericblair: I was responding to an idea someone else put forward (and several supported): that it makes sense to keep our bases there because we just never know when Japan and Germany will go all fascist again. Jesus. As to the larger point — the real reasons we’re there — time to fold our tents and come home.

  70. 70
    David Koch says:

    @RareSanity: Not true.

    Israel gets caught spying on the US all the time, just the US doesn’t pursue cases and the media doesn’t make a big deal of it. Hell, Ken Pollack is a spy, and he STILL gets quoted on the front page of the freaking NY Times. And don’t tell me Judith Miller wasn’t a spy.

    Russia gets caught as well. Remember Anna Chapman

  71. 71
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Furthermore, if everyone is doing it, why is it that we (the U.S.) aren’t catching other countries doing the same things within our borders? To me, it’s either that other countries aren’t doing the same stuff, are better at doing the same stuff, or we absolutely suck at detecting them doing this stuff.

    @RareSanity: We do catch other countries doing this here. All the time. Literally every week. It is almost never publicized.

  72. 72
    drkrick says:

    @RareSanity: One of the reason we’re getting caught more than other countries right now is that other countries don’t have an Edward Snowden. That may be an indication of bad spycraft in general or, as I’m inclined to think, an indication of a more specific problem with how applicants for jobs like Snowden’s are vetted.

    It’s pretty safe to assume that the volume of spying the US does as compared to the rest of the world is similar to the comparison WRT defense spending: more than everybody else put together.

    Spying on foreign governments, including allies, is SOP. If Germany isn’t spying on us it’s a dereliction of their duty to their people. But like an unfaithful spouse with an “arrangement”, part of the deal is to act with enough discretion not to embarrass the other party. Thanks to sloppiness, overreaching and Snowden the US has failed to live up to that responsibility.

  73. 73
    RareSanity says:

    @ericblair:

    Then how do you know it’s happening?

    I ask that question in complete seriousness.

    I understand that there is going to be spying between nations…that’s just the way it is. The problem I have, is I just don’t think other countries are doing it on the scale of the U.S., and I’m getting a bit tired of hearing it all rationalized with, “everybody’s doing the same thing.”

    @Mnemosyne:

    Understood.

    While the Snowden releases have definitely been the catalyst, it seems to me, that most of the outrage coming from other countries isn’t the fact that spying happens…of course, they know it does and do it themselves. The outrage seems to come from the genuine shock of the scale to which the U.S. is monitoring everyone.

    That’s really my only point…everybody may be checking up on everyone else, but the NSA has taken it to a level that most people deem to be unacceptable, and it doesn’t seem like other countries are doing that.

  74. 74
    drkrick says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    … the Bush administration was convinced that she was a communist spy because she had been born and raised in East Germany. Because no one loves communism more than the people who overthrew it in 1989, amirite?

    I wouldn’t endorse the Bush adminstration’s concern about Merkel in particular, but in general, by all accounts there’s quite a bit of nostalgia about how much more secure and pleasant the good old Communist days were in the territory of the former East Germany.

  75. 75
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @RareSanity: The CIA and the NSA are, like the rest of the MIC, legacies of the time when they were actually of use and need during the cold war. Remember all that talk of a “peace dividend” that was bandied about back when the Iron Curtain disintegrated in ’89? Who was in charge of DoD at that time? The Dark Lord, who made damn sure that the MIC was spared any serious cutbacks. So you’ve got all these spooks who need something to do since the existential threat vanished into thin air as the Berlin Wall was demolished.

    It’s still around, looking for something to do. Spy on the Germans, spy on the French, do bag jobs on behalf of General Electric, whatever. ZOMG the Chinese are coming! was the initial narrative of the deserting coward malasstration, until those pesky Muslims fulfilled all the warnings that the Clintonites were trying, desperately, to bring to the attention of the dim son.

    Then we had the GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR! which is more or less the equivalent of a war on right flank attacks.

  76. 76
    ericblair says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    As to the larger point — the real reasons we’re there — time to fold our tents and come home.

    The interesting thing is, as much as people do get cynical about it, overseas bases are pretty efficient as far as the DoD goes (i.e. pretty damned cramped a lot of the time). They’ve been pretty steadily chopped back since the 80s, and bases outside US territory are the only ones that the DoD can resize at wilkl to save bucks without Congress getting much involved. We’ve got a whole pile of really utterly useless bases infrastructure domestically, but Congress won’t close them: they just pissed on another round of BRAC closings that the DoD wants.

    So if you want to close overseas bases, you need to start with what missions you don’t want the DoD to do anymore (including NATO/coalition support) and work backward from there. Which is fine, but it needs to come from a different angle.

  77. 77
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @RareSanity: and it doesn’t seem like other countries are doing that.

    China?

  78. 78
    LAC says:

    @C.V. Danes: dear USA : that nice young man Eric snowy something can vouch for us. Apparently you are the naughty ones. The only thing we want the secret for is the Colonial’ secret recipe. Just kidding! We don’t spy. We don’t even play ” I spy with my little eye”. Innocent as a baby bugging device.

    Auf weidersehen.

  79. 79
    RareSanity says:

    @drkrick:

    Thanks to sloppiness, overreaching and Snowden the US has failed to live up to that responsibility.

    I think that is the crux of what bothers me…Snowden seems to be a symptom of the first two thing you mentioned.

    Frankly, more than anything it pisses me off that for all of the money we spend, and all of the chest bumping we (Americans in general) do about being the best at everything, we are terrible at spying.

    Almost as bad as we are at initiating wars, as opposed to responding when attacked first….we’re just not built for that kind of stuff, it’s not in our nature no matter how much neocons try to make it.

    It’s like the kid that is always talking tough to hide the fact that he can’t, and doesn’t want to, fight.

  80. 80
    Chyron HR says:

    @RareSanity:

    That point is, if everybody is doing this, why is that it is only the U.S. that is getting caught, regularly, and called out in public?

    Because the people catching and calling out the U.S. for spying think this about other countries doing it:

    “‘Russia spies, too’ is the new ‘Saddam also tortures’.”
    – Glenn Greenwald, 2014-02-06

  81. 81
    ericblair says:

    @RareSanity:

    Then how do you know it’s happening?

    This information is part of standard counterintelligence training for a fairly large number of government-related positions, and is not releasable. That’s just how it is; the government sometimes doesn’t want to expose how or even the fact that a spy was caught, and also to avoid unwanted diplomatic incidents. As others have pointed out, some of it is in the newspapers.

  82. 82
    Botsplainer says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Germany declared war on the US in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack. This was one of Hitler’s more ridiculous unforced errors…

    Nobody ever accused him of being smart. Had he kept his fool mouth shut, blown off his pact with Japan (there wasn’t a lot of benefit to either party) and simply consolidated his gains by holding in place at that point, he’d have finished off the UK by armistice in ’44, had stable European vassals, finished killing off his Jewish populations and then could have gone on for more robust acquisition by ’48. The US political scene would have aligned neatly with his interests, predisposed as the white majority was toward American exceptionalism and racial exclusion.

  83. 83
    Elie says:

    @Belafon:

    Amen

  84. 84
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Cacti: Speaking of fascists and our friend (he was around the other day), here’s evidence of summary executions carried out by the “separatists” in Slovyansk, using a Stalin-era decree as justification. In their hurry to leave Slovyansk the other day, they left documents behind, some of which are reproduced here.

    But, you know, they’re just federalists.

  85. 85
    RareSanity says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    I like this explanation.

    “Needing something to do” is exactly the kind of thing that causes people to dumb stuff, sloppily, and get caught. Or, just over do something that has gone way past its level of usefulness.

    @Gin & Tonic:

    Do you honestly think that the Chinese government has anywhere near the capabilities of the U.S. government? Not only that, do you honestly think that China is gathering the same amount of data, from as many countries, as the U.S. is doing?

    While it may be good that the U.S. has better capabilities than the Chinese, the problem is that those capabilities provide for more efficient means of abuse.

  86. 86
    Elie says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Crazy narcissists can’t stop. Ever. Cause and effect are not necessarily connected to weigh subtle cost benefit decisions — just the impulse to do what one wants and values at that time.

    We are blessed that he and so many as sick as he was have that fatal disability…

  87. 87
    RareSanity says:

    @ericblair:

    Fair enough.

  88. 88
    Cacti says:

    @RareSanity:

    Yes, this is the current outrage, but my comment clearly asked why almost all of the recent such outrages, are other countries catching the U.S., and not the U.S. ever catching another country “doing the same thing” with in its’ borders?

    Others have beaten me to it, but other countries do get caught at it. More often than not, countries quietly exchange spies and double agents rather than splash it on the front page news.

    The last well publicized exchange was in 2010 when 10 Russian agents were swapped for 4 of our own.

    China has active and ongoing human and cyber spying operations within US borders. Google was the victim of a China-orignating cyber attack in 2010 that resulted in the theft of intellectual property, the Gmail addresses of Chinese political dissidents and human rights activists living abroad were specifically targeted. 5 Chinese business were caught in 2002/2003 shipping trade secrets and equipment from California to China, including computers used on classified national defense projects. 34 different US based companies in the medical, financial, defense, and information technology sectors have reported sophisticated cyber attacks originating from China.

    The WaPo had a story just two days ago entitled “Chinese cyberspies have hacked Middle East experts at major U.S. think tanks”.

    The US gets spied on all the time.

  89. 89
    RareSanity says:

    @Cacti:

    Noted.

    Thanks for reminding me of those past occurrences, and informing me of the more recent one.

  90. 90
    Cacti says:

    @RareSanity:

    Do you honestly think that the Chinese government has anywhere near the capabilities of the U.S. government?

    China has the second largest GDP in the world. They are also an ascendant power and are constantly looking to expand their reach and influence.

    They’re also substantially more authoritarian and brutally crack down on internal dissent whenever it pops up.

    So, what makes you think that China’s intel gathering apparatus is something other than one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world?

  91. 91
    Mnemosyne says:

    @RareSanity:

    I suspect that Merkel is also pissed off on a personal level about the reasoning for the original spying — really, those dumbfucks in the Bush administration thought she was a communist plant? I think it made her realize just how deep the insanity really went and it has freaked her (and the rest of Germany) out in retrospect. Because, sure, the current administration claims that they’re sane, but how do you really know?

  92. 92
    C.V. Danes says:

    @LAC:

    Dear Auf,

    Do you know where “Snowy” is? We have several theories of “intensive interrogation” that we would like to test on him, should he ever find himself renditioned back to us.

    NSA

  93. 93
    Cermet says:

    @Botsplainer: Uh, you are missing some facts – the Russian’s essentially defeated Germany long before we got into the fight and even before the Brits did much (the North African campaign involved few German troops compared to Russia.) Even our lend/lease did rather little for the Russians – not a lot got in compared to their needs. Hitler’s armies were in full retreat during the winter of 43. Kinda hard to attack the Brits in 44 if Russians are driving on Berlin … .

  94. 94
    C.V. Danes says:

    @drkrick:

    Spying on foreign governments, including allies, is SOP. If Germany isn’t spying on us it’s a dereliction of their duty to their people. But like an unfaithful spouse with an “arrangement”, part of the deal is to act with enough discretion not to embarrass the other party. Thanks to sloppiness, overreaching and Snowden the US has failed to live up to that responsibility.

    I think that spying in defense of your country is SOP, although you would think that allies might be treated differently than enemies, and might be justifiably outraged to catch us doing the equivalent of rifling through a business partner’s desk drawer.

  95. 95
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @RareSanity: Do you honestly think that the Chinese government has anywhere near the capabilities of the U.S. government? Not only that, do you honestly think that China is gathering the same amount of data, from as many countries, as the U.S. is doing?

    Yes.

  96. 96
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cermet: I disagree with you about lend/lease with the Russians. We provided a lot of non-shooting materiel (like Studebaker trucks) that were essential for the logistical support of the Red Army. Uncle Joe himself sang hosannas about the sturdy Studebaker. That aid allowed the Soviets to concentrate on what they were really good at…T34s, artillery, small arms, Stormoviks.

    Hitler’s insane “where the German soldier advances, he never retreats from” philosophy set up the disaster at Stalingrad, which became a personal thing between Hitler and Stalin. His Generals knew what they needed to do to have a chance to stem the tide, and they were repeatedly rebuffed by Hilter.

  97. 97
    NCSteve says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Cermet: I think the fact that we and the Brits forced the Germans to pour massive resources into building the Atlantic Wall, siphon off badly needed divisions into France and Italy, devastated their air force and bombed the living shit out of their cities and factories might have been of some assistance to the Soviet war effort.

  98. 98
    tobie says:

    @ericblair: Hypocrisy runs deep in German politics because their rhetoric when it comes to political matters is infuriatingly moralizing. Germany may be pissed that Kerry was able to get them to threaten Russia with importing less natural gas if Russian-sponsored forces continued their aggression in Eastern Ukraine. But far be it from either German politicians or the commentariat to note that factor.

    I’m a bit amused at how upset they are about the possibility of being spied on when about a year ago they were absolutely jubilant that the Bundesnachrichtendienst (their intelligence service) had successfully eavesdropped on the Syrian Army and supposedly had proof that the army used sarin gas. Read Der Spiegel from that time. The national pride that their intelligence service was a major player on the world stage was unmistakable.

    All politics doesn’t have to based on realist principles of self-interest. But assuming, as the German public and chattering classes generally do, that the policies and politics of the government are idealist in nature is willfully blind, smug, and self-satisfied.

  99. 99
    LAC says:

    @C.V. Danes: dear USA. No, we don’t. We have heard about this thing in your country called due process – is that the torture method used now? Russia is such a beacon of freedom! We should not let them know about due process torture. It would upset Vlad so.

    Oh and loved reading Snowden ‘s “letter from Birmingham jail”. Is it true that there is a memorial site named after him or is that another civil rights activist ? He is just like those heroes , yes? You must be proud. Just stop spying ok?

  100. 100
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @NCSteve: as I understand it, the jury’s kind of split on that issue. The Germans were really, really good at putting bombed-to-shit factories back into production. The targeting of fuel refineries towards the end o the war is believed to have had a genuine impact, but other than that, the strategic bombing campaign seems not to have done much to shorten the war.

  101. 101
    guachi says:

    Agency tasked with conducting foreign signals intelligence caught conducting foreign signals intelligence. On one of the biggest economies in the world, even.

    I would be surprised and upset if we weren’t conducting signals intelligence on one of the largest countries in the world.

  102. 102
    NotMax says:

    @Axel Foley

    Did I get it right?

    No.

  103. 103
    Tom DeVries says:

    @NCSteve: oh, excellent point. Bit of pearl clutching by the Germans, I think.

  104. 104
    JGabriel says:

    Betty Cracker:

    The newest cases apparently refer to a pair of old-fashioned human spies rather than digital eavesdropping. Fascinating.

    I don’t know for sure, but I suspect these spies were kicked out of Germany not so much for spying – every country places intelligence agents in their embassies for observation and local collection of information – but for recruiting German citizens. That’s a step above the usual level of spy games between allies. Of course the NSA revelations were probably a factor, too.

  105. 105
    JGabriel says:

    @C.V. Danes: I lol’d. Thanks for the laugh.

  106. 106
    Glocksman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    IIRC, the Red Army drove into battle with Studebaker and Dodge while the Red Air Force flew into battle using the seemingly limitless supplies of US high octane aviation gasoline.

    The US also supplied 2000 locomotives, compared to Soviet production of only about 92 built during the war years.
    This freed up even more industrial capacity for armored vehicles.

    Those things alone let the Soviets focus on making T34’s and refining the diesel to run them on.

    Was Lend Lease crucial?
    Probably not, but the Soviets would have had it much more difficult than they did and the war probably would have gone on for longer than it did.

  107. 107
    Tim I says:

    @NCSteve:

    Well said!

  108. 108
    Narcissus says:

    It can be simultaneously true that the security apparatus of the US government, as well as the military industrial complex more largely, is out of control while countries, even allies, do routinely spy on each other.

  109. 109
    Tim I says:

    @C.V. Danes:

    Pres.Obama did go on to qualify that by pointing out that it is only July, so the Republicans still have 6 months to “shut ‘er down” again.

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