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Wenn du sie nicht schlagen kannst, verbünde dich mit ihnen

GERMANY’S secret service spied on the EU’s British foreign policy chief and on the US secretary of state, it emerged yesterday.

The Bundesnachrichten- dienst, or BND, Germany’s equivalent of MI6, placed Baroness Ashton of Upholland under electronic surveillance when she was the EU’s high representative on foreign affairs and security.

It also tried to tap the mobile and office phones of John Kerry, the secretary of state, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

However, the attempt to listen in to Kerry’s mobile conversations failed because a bungling spy used an African country code by mistake. His other phones, including one at the American State Department, were successfully tapped.

The revelations are deeply embarrassing for Angela Merkel, who criticised the US over allegations the National Security Agency (NSA) monitored the German chancellor’s phone as part of a mass surveillance programme that included snooping on allies.

Speaking at the time, Merkel told President Barack Obama that “spying on friends is not acceptable”.

Particularly not those friends. To expose your poor spies to hours on end of Baroness Ashton or John Kerry is an unacceptable violation of the Framework Directive 89/391/EEC on Occupational Safety and Health.

Update: Niall Kilmartin adds, “Wow. They lose track of 130,000 immigrants from Isis recruiting areas but they can (almost) bug John Kerry. Is this a dramatic revelation of German government priorities, or does it merely indicate that the standard of electronic security set by Hillary was followed throughout her department and maintained by her successor?”

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20 comments to Wenn du sie nicht schlagen kannst, verbünde dich mit ihnen

  • Wow. They lose track of 130,000 immigrants from Isis recruiting areas but they can (almost) bug John Kerry. Is this a dramatic revalation of German government priorities, or does it merely indicate that the standard of electronic security set by Hillary was followed throughout her department and maintained by her successor?

  • Mr Ed

    The headline is ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em‘.

    But what is the need for spying on those two Lefties Ashton and Kerry? Surely it’s obvious that tthey will do the most disgusting thing possible at any opportunity. Ashton was the treasurer of CND in her younger days, and a social worker.

    And why can’t the Germans spy on people, after all the East Germans did? Where did Merkel learn her manners if not in East Germany, after being born in the West?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Niall Kilmartin, OK, that comment goes in the main post. Mr Ed, wouldn’t similar comments apply to Obama spying on Merkel? I guess Tranzis must find greater interest in the conversations of other Tranzis than normal people do.

  • Mr Ed

    Natalie, iirc the BND ‘Federal Information Service’ is prohibited from spying on Germans or within Germany as that would be too Gestapo/SD-ish, but those outside Germany are fair game.

    Internally, the RSHA, er… the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution ‘Bundesamt für Verfassungschutz’ is responsible for ‘monitoring’ threats to the Constituional order, i.e. nutty Germans but that presumably does not include monitoring people for not being German.

    They are only following orders.

    What’s to stop Mr Obama spying on Merkel?

  • Firstly some caveats. The Times article indicates, in its photo caption, that the spying on Ashton stopped in 2013. She ceased her responsibilities as EU Commissioner etc in November 2014. Also, Does Der Spiegel really know on whom the BND does or does not spy?

    Next, one can at least speculate on other and/or additional interpretations.

    Does Merkel not view the EU as ‘friends’?

    Does the German government have grounds for not trusting the EU to tell them, through official channels, what the EU is doing? Or is it that Germany is spying on a UK Commissioner to the EU rather than on the EU High Representative on Foreign Affairs and Security Policy?

    Changing tack slightly: if UK Prime Minister David Cameron thinks we should trust and rely on the EU for our national and international security (and the UK will be seriously disadvantaged if we compromise that reliance – or even differently arrange the partial contribution through direct cooperation with other nations), what is his view on the fact that the Germans clearly do not agree with him?

    That leads me to ask what EU agency is the equivalent of the UK’s Communications Electronic Security Group (CESG, the part of GCHQ that advises the UK government on telephone and other communications security)? What advice has this putative agency given to Baroness Ashton? Has she followed it?

    Rather interestingly in my search about UK and EU security policy, I have come across this UK government policy document: HMG Security Policy Framework. It is dated 2014 and has an introduction by the Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood. In it, I have found not a single mention of “EU” or of “European”, though there is a great deal of reference to UK law. Given the Prime Minister’s repeated emphasis on the importance of the EU to UK national security, this surprises me.

    Best regards

  • Kevin B

    Come on, Natalie! Language tests on a Sunday morning?

    And the German spy agency is named after a Lewis Carrol creature?

    Yer ‘avin a giraffe.

    And anyway, we’re trying to leave them, not join them.

  • Paul Marks

    I strongly support the independence of the Free State of Bavaria.

    German “unification” (the Prussian conquest of everyone else) was a terrible disaster in the 19th century – that led to the horrors of the 20th century. And the German government is still obsessed with “European Unification” even now. Mrs M. sees herself as a sort of Frederick the Great (18th century statist ruler of Prussia – people who admit to admiring him reveal a lot about themselves) – imposing “enlightenment” on everywhere else. Accept that she has no real army (and would not be able to command it if she did) – so the modern German Chancellor is a sort of Toy Town Frederick the Great – hardly the “Blood and Iron” Bismark (another monster).

    Italian “unification” was also a bad thing – leading to conscription (Sicily had not had that), higher taxation and language persecution.

    19th century liberals, mostly, backed German and Italian “unification” – one of the reasons that leads me to think that there was something seriously wrong with liberalism (even then).

  • Paul Marks

    Paul Marks fantasy…….

    The Empress Elizabeth of Russia (who swore at the start of her reign that she would execute anyone – and kept her oath) lives a few months longer, and the Russians ride into Berlin – ending Frederick’s Prussia (no “the Great”).

    The Hapsburgs of Austria get to keep Silesia.

    France also wins. There is no Revolution a few years later.

    In Britain the “cult of Frederick” of “Prussianism” (of which Edmund Burke was such an opponent) dies.

    Such things as mass state education and the idea of the state as “liberator” and “enlightenment” (which so mislead even such liberals as James Mill and J.S. Mill) does not get off the ground. In most of the 18th century the term “the state” was not used with awe in Britain – in the 19th century it is (the influence of German philosophy and practice) it even twists the definition of words – for example Sir William Hamilton (the liberal philosopher) defines the term “university” as an institution created by “the state” (Prussianism had totally twisted his perceptions – in reality universities were mostly created by the Church) and demanded that the state “reform” the university in the Scottish capital (as the place had committed the terrible crime of voting for someone else for a Professorship – not him).

    For (wrongly I believe) the Prussia of Frederick is presented (all over the world) as the state that “works” – that improves the lives (materially and culturally) of the “people”.

    Horace Mann in the United States (and other so called “reformers”) were a product of Prussianism.

    I wish the Cossacks had cut its throat.

  • GERMANY’S secret service spied on the EU’s British foreign policy chief and on the US secretary of state, it emerged yesterday.

    The Bundesnachrichten- dienst, or BND, Germany’s equivalent of MI6, placed Baroness Ashton of Upholland under electronic surveillance when she was the EU’s high representative on foreign affairs and security.

    It also tried to tap the mobile and office phones of John Kerry, the secretary of state, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

    Do John Kerry, Baroness Ashton or even (god forbid) David Cameron present an existential threat to Germany? Arguably they do (albeit for different reasons), ergo the BND has not only the right, but the responsibility to attempt to snoop on them, just as the NSA and GCHQ have the responsibility to prevent their foreign service types from being snooped on.

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    John Galt, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” Exactly. Unless someone tells me that Ashton and Kelly were hot for privacy and civil liberties, which somehow I think unlikely, that’s my reaction to their hurt feelings now.

  • The Jannie

    Sorry, were we supposed to be surprised? I would be surprised if every bugger WASN’T spying on every bugger else.

  • jsallison

    Intelligence agencies listening in on foreign dignitaries… This is my shocked, SHOCKED face. In other news, there is gambling going on at a local indian casino…

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    ‘Friends don’t spy on friends.’ So, if someone is spying on you,they can’t be your friend! Simples, really. Invade them tomorrow.
    Didn’t someone once say that countries don’t have friends, just interests? That was a wiser saying.

  • AKM

    jsallison. Indeed. What do people think intelligence services are for if not for spying on other nations? There have been plenty of stories over the years about how British and American governments spied on their allies. The basic slogan is “trust but verify” and it’s good training for everyone on both sides that undoubtedly comes in useful when spying on, or defending against spies from, really nasty nations.

  • Mr Ed

    Didn’t the perfidious British give the Australians rigged Enigma machines post-WW2 and read Aussie diplomatic cables? About as rotten an egg as you’ll find.

  • Watchman

    So what we have learnt here is that the German spy agency is very good at its job, apart from when a single operative makes a mistake when there seems to be no checking to ensure the mistake has not been made.

    Or that the German spy agency is actually stereotypically German?

    (I am reassured however that the German spy agency is working like all the other agencies, apart from the UK ones, who would never do that, so there is no need to check up on them at all…)

  • Julie near Chicago

    What Paul said … What jsallison said.

  • “…does it merely indicate that the standard of electronic security set by Hillary was followed throughout her department…”

    More like: “Does modern-day Germany still maintain the electronic surveillance set up by the Stasi?”

    Makes sense that they would.

  • Watchman

    Kim,

    If they are using Stasi-era electronic surveillance they may be in trouble (even Hilary Clinton’s security should cope with that) – remember that the communists were losing the technology war not only in terms of nuclear missles and conventional warfare but also in terms of intelligence technology as free(ish) markets just continually out-innovated and out-produced their state-controlled systems. I suspect the legacy they are following there are whatever the old West German service was called (possibly the BND I suppose) who would presumably have had top-of-the-range material available to them in 1989.

  • […] Niall Kilmartin adds,3 Wow. They lose track of 130,000 immigrants from Isis recruiting areas but they can (almost) bug […]