According to recent reports, Angela Merkel has ordered its intelligence service to spy on United States and its biggest ally, Great Britain for the first time since 1945.
Germany’s BND or the Federal Intelligence Service is the counterpart of MI5 and CIA which looks into monitoring spy operations on its soil following the discovery earlier this month of two alleged US spies. The move is as well thought to be a response to the revelations of mass surveillance of German citizens by the US National Security Agency particularly for eavesdropping on Merkel’s cell phone.
After the defeat of the Nazis by the end of World War II in 1945, the new authorities of West Germany adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to the intelligence activities of some of the victors, namely the U.S., Britain and France. This time, it’s the government’s turn to send a strong revoking signal.
With the discovery of the U.S spies, Kanzier Merkel demanded the departure of the CIA station chief in Berlin. In an attempt to soothe tensions between two governments, US President Barack Obama dispatched two senior advisers to Germany following the new allegations. Chief of staff Denis McDonough and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco are in Berlin for meetings with their German counterparts. The White House says the U.S. and Germany agreed to set up a dialogue to address intelligence concerns on both sides.
Merkel quoted “Trust can only be restored through talks and certain agreements”.
She added, “We will seek out such talks, though I can’t announce anything concrete right now.”
Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany where state surveillance was considered a lifestyle, initially said her administration and that of U.S. President Barack Obama have opposing views on what’s needed to guarantee security and at the same time protect personal data. While the Obama administration has remained largely silent, U.S. commentators have defended the need to spy on even close allies such as Germany, citing the country’s close links to Russia and fact that several members of the 9/11 terror cell lived in Hamburg before the attacks.
Despite the spy row, Merkel insisted that Germany and the U.S. remain close partners and nothing about this will change.
Merkel dismissed the idea that the government would home Edward Snowden, the NSA contractor whose leaks sparked a worldwide flurry of reports on U.S. spy activity, to come to Germany.
She insists, “We learned things that we didn’t know before, and that’s always interesting,” but added, “granting asylum isn’t an act of gratitude.”
Earlier a top White House official pledged that the CIA will no longer use vaccination programs as cover for spying operations. The agency used the hoax in targeting Osama bin Laden before the U.S. raid that killed him in 2011. Lisa Monaco,one of Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, wrote to the deans of 13 prominent public health schools, saying the CIA has agreed it would no longer use vaccination programs or workers for intelligence purposes. The agency also agreed to not use genetic materials obtained through such programs for safety of the public and the health workers.