In a stunning revelation that should surprise no one with a basic understanding of spycraft, the German press can confirm: Berlin’s intelligence agencies have spent years spying on their American allies, despite Germany’s public outrage against Washington for doing likewise. From The Local Germany:
Germany’s foreign intelligence service long spied on numerous official and business targets in the United States, including the White House, Spiegel weekly reported Thursday.
The magazine said it had seen documents showing that the intelligence service, the BND, had a list of some 4,000 so-called selector keywords for surveillance between 1998 and 2006.
These included telephone or fax numbers, as well as email addresses at the White House as well as the US finance and foreign ministries.
Other monitoring targets ranged from military institutions including the US Air Force or the Marine Corps, space agency NASA to civic group Human Rights Watch.
Countries with the capabilities to keep tabs on their allies do so; this is a basic reality of foreign intelligence-gathering. The revelation here is more significant for once again highlighting the hypocrisy of Berlin’s response to the 2013 NSA scandal. At the time, Angela Merkel indulged in hectoring lectures against Washington, insisting that “spying on friends is not acceptable at all.” Later, Germany kicked out a CIA official and conducted a politicized parliamentary inquiry into the matter, constantly inveighing against their perfidious allies in Washington—all while apparently staying up to similar tricks.
To be fair to Merkel, the specific revelations here only go up till 2006, when she was just starting out as Chancellor. But that hardly means that Berlin has turned its spies’ eyes away from the United States. In any case, Merkel must be crossing her fingers that this story doesn’t land on the President’s desk—he seems to be a little sensitive when it comes to surveillance.