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World tensions over excess U.S. surveillance of everyone around the globe escalated today as German demanded an immediate clarification from the U.S. Ambassador after a man arrested for spying said he worked for the United States. Alison Smale of The New York Times reports the details in her article German Accused of Passing Secrets, and Fingers Point at U.S..

BERLIN — In the latest turn in the yearlong tensions with Germany over American spying, a 31-year-old German man was arrested this week on suspicion of passing secret documents to a foreign power that appeared to be the United States, and the American ambassador was called in to the Foreign Office here and urged to help with what German officials called a “swift clarification” of the case.

The arrest came just as Washington and Berlin were trying to put to rest a year of strains over the National Security Agency’s monitoring of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, and just months after an effort by Germany to strike a “no spy” accord with the White House collapsed.

While the White House and American intelligence officials refused to comment on the arrest, one senior American official said that the reports in the German news media that the man under arrest had been working for the United States for at least two years “threaten to undo all the repair work” the two sides have been trying to achieve

The man was originally arrested for begin a spy for the Russians, but the main said he has been working for the U.S., which might be exactly what we'd expect a Russian spy to say. With U.S. credibility with regard to global intelligence in tatters, that line of defense is probably not going to get very far.

The German Parliament is already investigating allegations that our NSA tapped the phones of top German government and corporate officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone.

Poignantly Chancellor Merkel was informed of this Thusday morning just before her conversation with President Obama as both parties are working to repair the damages done by our out-of-control intelligence agencies.

The White House did not say if this topic came up and the CIA and NSA were not available to say what their wiretaps indicate about the content of the conversation. (Snark alert.)

Recently, we also learned the NSA has been using the DEA as a cover to tap the telephones of top government and corporate officials in Latin America.

After 9/11, our U.S. intelligence philosophy seems to be that any conversation occurring around the world that is not monitored by the N.S.A. could represent a threat to our national security. What if someone talked about a terrorist act and we didn't spy on it? Would you want the potential loss of a major American city to a terrorist nuclear bomb on your conscious?

Any privacy by anyone anywhere could be a national security threat. Remember, "untapped lips, sinks ships." We could solve all of this is everyone in world would just agree to let the NSA install a RTFF dental implant in their front teeth at birth, so all of your conversations could be recorded and stored, for future reference. (Snark alert.)

Both the CIA and NSA refused to comment on these allegations, for real.  

5:01 PM PT: oops. I had "written out" the last two paragraphs of the original version and then forget to erase them. Sorry that the first draft of this post went out with five paragraphs rather than three from The New York Times. I got distracted when I was checking the Recent Posts, and only now got back.

5:42 PM PT: Thanks to TranslatorPro for bringing us the following link to The Guardian

http://www.theguardian.com/...

However, under questioning by the federal prosecutor the suspect said he had received money in exchange for passing on secret information to a US contact. If his claims turn out to be true, German papers say it would constitute the biggest scandal involving a US-German double agent in the post-war era.

According to Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper, the employee had been approached several times by the NSA, at least once with a specific request for information on the Bundestag's investigation into NSA surveillance.According to Der Spiegel, the BND staffer had collected between 200 and 300 secret documents from internal servers and saved them onto a USB stick.

They were sold on to the US intelligence services between 2012 and 2014, for price of several tens of thousands of euros, said the magazine. The employee had managed to establish contact with the NSA by the most obvious way imaginable – by sending an email to the US embassy.On Friday, the investigative committee gathered for an emergency meeting in response to the arrest. Martina Renner, a Left party politician on the parliamentary committee, told Associated Press that the case indicated that anyone who examined Snowden's revelations in detail was subject to scrutiny by US intelligence agencies.

News of the double-spying allegations come less than a day after two former NSA employees spoke as witnesses to the Bundestag inquiry. William Binney, a former technical head, said the NSA had a "totalitarian mentality", claiming that it represented the "greatest threat" to American society since the civil war.


I'm shocked, kogs, shocked, to discover foreign nations spying on us! On behalf, of the privacy respecting nations let me be the first to demand an "immediate clarification" from the Germans for this affront to international respect, (Snark alert.)


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (39+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 03:01:19 PM PDT

  •  Stimson said "Gentlemen don't read each others (7+ / 0-)

    mail".

    "Gentlemen do not read each other's mail." Stimson's ethical reservations about cryptanalysis focused on the targeting of diplomats from America's close allies, not on spying in general. Once he became Secretary of War during World War II, he and the entire US command structure relied heavily on decrypted enemy communications.
    Maybe they need to carve that in stone at NSA HQ.
  •  And this is what we do to our allies for crissakes (16+ / 0-)

    With friends like that...

    "If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged." - 17th-century French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu.

    by markthshark on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 03:37:15 PM PDT

  •  everybody really does spy on everybody (0+ / 0-)

    some more effective and less evil than others but it's all necessary which is why we get revelations and consequential bad feelings.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:25:52 PM PDT

  •  You can rely on HoundDog to cover (6+ / 0-)

    all the spicy stories. :)

    I am roughly translating from Der Spiegel, who said round about this:
    It's somewhat ironic (my words) that the BND (German Federal Intelligence Service intercepted an e-mail of this man in which he apparently has offered his services to Russian Spy agencies.

    Just later the BND found out that he in fact was sitting himself inside the BND.
    He has saved 200 to 300 internal BND documents on an USB stick for years, documents which included papers of the NSA investigative committee itself.

    he guy has sold these documents between 2012 and 2014 to an employee of the NSA. He created this contact to the NSA employee by very simply sending an email to the US embassy in Germany and suggested some "cooperation". The Americans paid him well. Several ten thousands of dollars he earned for his services.

    This information (published in Der Spiegel) comes from the testimony the man made directly after having been arrested to the government authorities.

    Supposedly nobody in the BND had the impression that something might be wrong with the man. He was a little conspicuous, he had a slight disability, nobody would have thought him to be capable of being a spy for the Americans.

    And so far everybody is very cautious. The man could have claimed false facts.

    Whatever.

    Money talks and the desire to be "somebody" too, apparently.

    We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

    by mimi on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:27:39 PM PDT

    •  Thanks mimi. You've really made my day. (5+ / 0-)

      I was feeling gloomy that I had to spending the day moving boxes up from the basement, while already suffering the slings and arrow of outrageous and unreal body pains.

      But this is one of the best compliments I've ever received.

      You can rely on HoundDog to cover (1+ / 0-)
      all the spicy stories. :)
      Now I'm thinking of changing my name to SpiceDog!  

      "All you other dogs stand aside, for The SpiceDog take large steps... and wouldn't want the little dogs to get hurt."  (With apologies to Mel Brooks,)

      Woof, woof, aaaahhhhhhhwwwwwooooooo! (Awesome, awe inspiring moon howl, remenescent of Tarzan's yell.)

      Thanks misi. I'm going to put this one on my "Wall of inspiration" where I currently have my "Most Improved Dog" award in spelling from the sixth grade.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 05:11:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Lol ... my hound mutt dog Sasha says she wants (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog, translatorpro

        you to stay a real HoundDog though.

        We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

        by mimi on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 05:38:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sasha is such an exotic sounding name, I'm already (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          translatorpro

          convinced.

          You are such a font on wonderful ideas. "The real HoundDog" is a fantastic concept. I like it and encourage readers to accept nothing less.

          LOL.

          Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

          by HoundDog on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 08:21:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, the NSA is led by paranoids. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, koNko, translatorpro, stevemb

    But Obama, Kerry and our diplomats really ought to know better.

  •  9-11 highjackers lived in Germany (0+ / 0-)

    part of the planning to highjack the planes took place in Germany

  •  I get the outrage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cryonaut

    But honestly, does anyone think Germany does not have spies here? Or that other allies don't? Here is an article from jast a few months ago about Israel spying on us. http://www.newsweek.com/...

    It wouldn't surprise me if other countries try to do or have been doing the same crap the NSA does. We were just the ones who got caught.

    •  oh, you know, I am German, worked for (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OHdog, BMScott, stevemb

      German TV in Washington DC. Our female colleagues sometimes joked about their American boyfriends, apparently their boyfriends too often worked for the NSA at Fort Meade for it to be just a haphazardly thingy.

      So, the joke went like this, who is spying on whom, the American NSA guy his German girlfriend working for German TV or the German girl trying to find some "spicy" story through their NSA related boyfriend.

      We got somewhat calmed down when she said her boyfriend spies on the Russians. (wiping off my sweat here). We have a Polish guy, who really, really doesn't like Snowden much and I guess the Russians neither, but then he had a Russian wife.

      Those Russian women... oh la la ... spicy, I tell you... stories for the fiction inclined writer in abundance.

      :)

      When CT theories getting funny, the funniest guys to nuts and I go to sleep. Nothing to see here. Move on.

      We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

      by mimi on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:53:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What would Germany's interests be (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      corvo, lotlizard, koNko, mimi, stevemb

      if they did spy on the US? They have no military to speak of, i.e. only for defensive purposes, the country is more interested in economic development than spreading democracy. I'm really curious about what the motivation would be, in your opinion. The US is falling apart, literally, what's the US have that could be of any interest to Germany whatsoever? I can only think of foreign-based neo-Nazi groups that the German fringe could be in contact with, but that's about it. Maybe I have no imagination, but to me the main reasons for spying would almost always ultimately be for military purposes. I'm sure the German authorities do a lot of internal monitoring to flag potential terrorists, and they have been successful in stopping some attacks. So the defensive side of intelligence work seems to work fine.

      „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

      by translatorpro on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 04:54:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  wowwww 'immediate clarification' (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    sounds so important.

    •  What? I demand you clarify this comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, alx9090

      "immediately" cryonaut!!! Is this meant as snarky sarcassim? If so, where is the "snarky sarcassism" label?  

      How are readers expected to tell if a comment is meant in snark, or with great sincerity, if it is not properly labeled?  

      Please issue a clarification immediately, or I may be forced to take this issue to the next level, and write a firm post "raising serious concerns" about the lack of compliance with the Daily Kos "Truth in Snark Labeling System."

      How can we be expected to correctly modulate our levels of mirth without correctly labeled snark cues? Really! (Subtle humor embedded within feigned indignation alert.)

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 05:21:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a bit more information (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Iberian, corvo, HoundDog, koNko, mimi

    from the Guardian:

    Germany arrests BND member on suspicion of spying for US

    Germany arrests BND member on suspicion of spying for US
    Media says alleged double agent may have been tasked with spying on committee investigating NSA's activities in Germany

    The article continues for several more paragraphs, and seems to be a pretty good summary of the facts known so far.

    „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

    by translatorpro on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 05:19:00 PM PDT

    •  Thanks. A double agent maybe? This story is (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, translatorpro

      getting better by the minute.

      How does that work in the Ambassador's office? After his heartfelt and humble apology, he then becomes indignant and then says, "and, moving on to other matters, how dare you spy on us? We are shocked, truly shocked, to discover Germany spying on us!"

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Fri Jul 04, 2014 at 05:30:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Buried lede 1: examination leads to surveillance (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, HoundDog, koNko
    anyone who examined Snowden's revelations in detail was subject to scrutiny by US intelligence agencies.
  •  Buried lede 2: circular spook full-employment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, HoundDog, koNko
    approached several times by the NSA, at least once with a specific request for information on the Bundestag's investigation into NSA surveillance.
    In other words:

    1. NSA spies
    2. Target investigates
    3. NSA spies on investigation
    4. NSA demands more money to pay for more spying

  •  The German Foreign Office did not actually (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, koNko, translatorpro, mimi

    demand that Ambassador Emerson provide an explanation: it asked him to meet for a discussion and to contribute to a speedy clarification of the affair.  In diplomatic language this falls short of an actual demand.  According to the quotations that I've seen in SPIEGEL ONLINE, it's the possibility that the NSA was spying on parliament that has occasioned the most official outrage so far.

  •  Until someone can show me that Germany or any (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, translatorpro, Flying Goat, mimi

    other country threw an electronic drift net to spy on Americans the way the NSA has done to German citizens as well as citizens of many of our other allies spare me the false equivalency nonsense I'm seeing in some of the comments.

    •  Exactly! I don't give any credence at all (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, mimi, dfarrah, stevemb

      to the "well, everybody does it" crap. I want to see proof, too. As noted in a comment higher up, what on earth does the US have that Germany would want to spy on it for? As an American expat in Germany, I have watched my country and everything it stood for being dismantled piece-by-piece over the last 25 years, and I have no idea what is left that a highly-developed, sophisticated country with a tiny, defense-only military force could possibly not already have that the US does. Germany's power is in economics and efficiency, where the US has had large deficits for a long time by selling out the American people to the wealthy and corporations. It breaks my heart, but it's easier to be outside the country to see it clearly and inside to do anything about it. On the other hand, maybe I'm missing something? The idea of Germany doing any scale of spying on the US just seems preposterous to me, especially knowing the German culture and mentality as well as I do.

      „Wer kämpft, kann verlieren. Wer nicht kämpft, hat schon verloren.“ - Bertolt Brecht

      by translatorpro on Sat Jul 05, 2014 at 01:09:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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