FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What’s a Little Espionage Among ‘Friends’?

by

Munich

You have to wonder how much more the German public will take of the country’s ongoing humiliation by the United States and its extensive program of secretly spying on what nominally is one of America’s most reliable allies.

The latest scandal involves the discovery of a CIA mole working in the highest reaches of Germany’s Defense Ministry. This exposé follows, by less than a week, the arrest of another US spy in Germany’s own intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtsdienst (BND).

Yesterday, the German government ordered the expulsion of the CIA station chief in Berlin because of the discovery of the two active spies. It was the first such expulsion of a CIA station chief by a US ally in memory, but even so, the action appears to be largely symbolic, and designed to appease public anger domestically, not to actually impact spying within Germany by the US. The German government, after all, didn’t even blow the station chief’s identity — an act of professional courtesy that in this case was totally inappropriate to the offense.

The German people then — and we Americans watching this farce — must be left wondering why the German government, almost like an abused child who is old enough to strike back, puts up with this kind of embarrassment at the hands of the US government.

Germany, after all, has a powerful economy — one that, driven as it is by a strong manufacturing sector and a solid trade surplus, including with the US, in many ways is much stronger than the US economy. Germany has no need to worry about any risk of US trade sanctions, the way most countries do that consider trying to stand up to the US. Nor does Germany need to rely on the US military for protection. The country faces no threat from any direction. (As anti-war activist David Swanson puts it in his column US out of Germany, “Protection from Russia?  If the Russian government weren’t demonstrating a level of restraint that dwarfs even that of the Brazilian soccer team’s defense there would be full-scale war in Ukraine right now.  Russia is no more threatening Germany than Iran is preparing to nuke Washington or the U.N. is confiscating guns in Montana.”)

Why, one has to ask, would such a powerful country put up with the crap that the US is doing here, which even includes the tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone (as disclosed in documents released by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden), or paying spies to rat out the inner workings of a Bundestag intelligence committee?

I suppose one logical explanation would be that there is enough corruption and political wheeling and dealing behind the scenes here that, knowing how deeply compromised they have been during a decade of NSA monitoring of their communications, the political leadership of Germany — both the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats — must be afraid (like their spineless counterparts in the US Congress) to take a stand against further US spying abuses.

Still, there is bound to be a limit to what the German public will tolerate, particularly in a country that has such raw memories of what it was like to live in a police state. After all, there is the history of the Nazi regime, and much more recently, of the Stasi state in East Germany, which only ended in 1990, and whose massive and all-pervasive spy apparatus and its predations have been luridly exposed over the course of the intervening years.

On July 4, the German news magazine Der Spiegel published an interview with Edward Snowden’s attorney Jesselyn Radack and fellow NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, in which Drake, who had intimate knowledge about the cooperation between the NSA and Germany’s BND, explained that German intelligence had basically for years operated as an extension, and junior partner, of the NSA in the latter agency’s effort to monitor virtually all communications inside of Germany.

Radack accused the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic politicians in the German Bundestag of being cowards, both in their hearings into the US spying operation in Germany and the cooperation the NSA had received from the BND, and in their unwillingness to grant asylum to Snowden, given all the information he had provided about the NSA’s spying on Germany and the German people.

Drake warns Germans in that Spiegel article that national security in the US has at this point become a kind of “state religion.” That’s a statement which should send a shudder down the spine of any German familiar with the country’s recent history.

This is a sordid story that is not going to go away, even if the current US station chief does.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:
June 30, 2016
Richard Moser
Clinton and Trump, Fear and Fascism
Pepe Escobar
The Three Harpies are Back!
Ramzy Baroud
Searching for a ‘Responsible Adult’: ‘Is Brexit Good for Israel?’
Dave Lindorff
What is Bernie Up To?
Thomas Barker
Saving Labour From Blairism: the Dangers of Confining the Debate to Existing Members
Jan Oberg
Why is NATO So Irrational Today?
John Stauber
The Debate We Need: Gary Johnson vs Jill Stein
Steve Horn
Obama Administration Approved Over 1,500 Offshore Fracking Permits
Rob Hager
Supreme Court Legalizes Influence Peddling: McDonnell v. United States
Norman Pollack
Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization: Janus-Faced Monopoly Capital
Binoy Kampmark
Railroaded by the Supreme Court: the US Problem with Immigration
Howard Lisnoff
Of Kiddie Crusades and Disregarding the First Amendment in a Public Space
Vijay Prashad
Economic Liberalization Ignores India’s Rural Misery
Caroline Hurley
We Are All Syrians
June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail