TBR News June 22, 2014

Jun 22 2014


The Voice of the White House


            Washington, D.C. June 20, 2014: “All an interested person has to do to discover the global rage at American spying and use of force or its threat, is to read foreign news sites. American news sites are notoriously shy in discussing such matters, mainly because they are ordered not to but outside this growing police state, the truth is much easier to locate. And if America is now being dragged into yet another debilitating war, we can thank our wonderful friends in the CIA. After all, they caused the Ukraine Orange Revolution and when that failed, instigated a riot and a putch in Kiev to put in a US-obedient regeime, run by a notorious crook. But like all CIA operations, this one failed as well and now foreign-financed ISIS rebels in Iraq are totally destabilizing that area. More troops sent off to their deaths and more enormous costs are pushed onto the American people. Eventually, as the German’s say, the shovel gets full.”


Worried about spying? Maybe you need a personal drone detection system


June 19, 2014

by Samuel Gibbs



 Domestic Drone Countermeasures’ Kickstarter project offers a black box which beeps when a drone is snooping within 15m


Privacy in the drone-filled age is going to be more difficult to protect than ever. Competitors, thieves, or even just your neighbours could be spying on your every move using a remote-controlled flying camera.


That’s the kind of paranoia Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is hoping to tap into with its new personal drone detection system (PDDS) Kickstarter project – a black box that promises to go beep when a drone flies within 15m of its sensors.


“Drones are becoming more capable all the time and this is why it’s alarming. They fly with payloads like still cameras, video cameras, infrared detectors, thermal detectors, among other things, and they are already being used for surveillance,” said Amy Ciesielka, founder of DDC.


“Though there are legitimate uses for domestic drones, there is still concern about invasion of privacy and surveillance by various entities,” she said.


In the UK it is illegal to fly a drone within 50m of a structure even for recreation, while commercial use of drones has to be cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). But in the US personal drones are not regulated by the American Federal Aviation Administration and can currently be flown around buildings and built-up areas.


Black box goes beep


Portland, Oregon-based DDC has been working on the technology for more than a year and promises to warn users of personal drone snooping before it’s too late. The PDDS kit cannot detect military drones as “they fly too high and are too sophisticated,” according to the company.


The kit consists of three boxes – a primary command and control unit that connects via Wi-Fi to the internet, and two sensors which are placed about the home. More sensors can be connected to the primary unit for covering a larger area.


If a drone is detected the command and control unit sends a notification to the user’s smartphone, tablet or computer, even while the user is away from home. The PDDS kit does not promise to actually block the drone’s invasion of privacy, yet.


In April, Robert Knowles became the first person convicted in the UK for “dangerously” flying a drone. He was fined £800 and ordered to pay £3,500 costs by the Furness and District Magistrate court after being prosecuted by the CAA.


A starter PDDS kit costs $499 from DDC on Kickstarter, but as ever with crowd-funded projects, the system may not come to fruition.


Poll finds confidence in U.S. Congress at historic low


June 19, 2014

by Susan Heavey



WASHINGTON – The U.S. public’s confidence in its lawmakers in Washington, which has been on the decline for decades, is now at a historic low not just for Congress but compared to any major U.S. institution, according to a Gallup poll released on Thursday.


            Just 7 percent of Americans surveyed said they have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence overall in Congress, down from 10 percent last year, the non-partisan polling firm said.


“This is the lowest confidence score Gallup has recorded for any institution – ever,” Gallup said in a statement. “This is also the first time Gallup has ever measured confidence in a major U.S. institution in the single digits.”


The dismal findings could portend even more trouble for incumbent lawmakers in November’s congressional elections.


Already, several longtime lawmakers have faced serious challenges, including outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor who lost his Republican primary race in Virginia last week.


Confidence in U.S. lawmakers has been falling ever since Gallup began surveying the public about Congress in 1973. At that time, 42 percent of those polled responded positively.


The latest poll results, based on a nationwide telephone survey of more than 1,000 adults earlier this month, found Congress at the bottom of a list of 17 major U.S. institutions that included the U.S. presidency, the Supreme Court, schools, police and banks, among others.


Those polled said they had the most confidence in the U.S. military, with 74 percent responding favorably, followed by small businesses, the police and religious institutions, according to the poll, which had a margin of error of plus-or-minus 4 percentage points.



(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Paul Simao)


Germany is NSA’s primary host of surveillance architecture in Europe – report


June 18, 2014



The US National Security Agency has turned Germany into its most important base for surveillance operations in Europe, developing an “intimate relationship” over the past 13 years, Der Spiegel revealed.


The NSA has not only been spying on German citizens, but the country has also become home to the agency’s key data collection centers in Europe, German magazine Der Spiegel revealed on its website Wednesday in an article based on the analysis of documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and information from other sources.


“No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture like the one in Germany…In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany,” Der Spiegel said.


Snowden’s leaked documents show that the “all-powerful American intelligence agency” has developed an “increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence,” the article reads.


The media reveals that one of the key NSA bases is located in Wiesbaden, southwest Germany, named European Technical Center (ETC), and it has been much developed by the US in the recent years. As the article states Building 4009 of the “Storage Station”, publically known as a US military compound, was never suspected to be a data collecting center.


Snowden’s documents show that following the facility’s refurbishment in 2011, it has been the NSA’s “primary communications hub” in Europe streaming huge amounts of intercepted data to “NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”


Spiegel also reveals that an “even more powerful and modern facility” is under construction five kilometers from Clay Kaserne at a US military complex in the Erbenheim district of the south-central city of Wiesbaden. Named the “Consolidated Intelligence Center” it is estimated to have cost the US government $124 million.


The European Center for Cryptology (ECC) is yet another key US facility located in the town of Griesheim. It was set up by the US in 2004 and has now become “NSA’s most important outpost in Europe,” according to Spiegel. ECC is an “operative arm” of the NSA’s EU leadership in Stuttgart, says the article citing Snowden’s documents. ECC relies on intelligence gathered through Europe and shared by NSA’s British counterpart GCHQ.


NSA staff in Griesheim use the most modern equipment available for the analysis of the data streams, using programs like XKeyscore, which allows for the deep penetration of Internet traffic,” the article added.


The agency earlier defended its use of the program as lawful adding that it engages in “extensive, close consultations” with the German government concerning the issue.


The Spiegel article also ponders upon the NSA’s still-close relationship with its German partner, Germany’s foreign intelligence agency the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst).


“…the exchange of data, spying tools and know-how is much more intense than previously thought,” according to Spiegel. “…yet German officials would seem to know next to nothing about the NSA’s activity in their country. For quite some time, it appears, they didn’t even want to know. It wasn’t until Snowden went public with his knowledge that the German government became active.”


             The leaks about the NSA’s surveillance programs were first published in the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year, revealing the extent of US spying on its citizens. Further revelations in February showed that the NSA also spied on world leaders, including the chancellor of Germany. Earlier this June the German Federal Prosecutor opened a long-anticipated investigation into the alleged surveillance of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone by the NSA after months of delays.




New NSA Revelations: Inside Snowden’s Germany File


June 18, 2014

by SPIEGEL Staff



Just before Christmas 2005, an unexpected event disrupted the work of American spies in the south-central German city of Wiesbaden. During the installation of a fiber-optic cable near the Rhine River, local workers encountered a suspicious metal object, possibly an undetonated World War II explosive. It was certainly possible: Adolf Hitler’s military had once maintained a tank repair yard in the Wiesbaden neighborhood of Mainz-Kastel.


The Americans — who maintained what was officially known as a “Storage Station” on Ludwig Wolker Street — prepared an evacuation plan. And on Jan. 24, 2006, analysts with the National Security Agency (NSA) cleared out their offices, cutting off the intelligence agency’s access to important European data streams for an entire day, a painfully long time. The all-clear only came that night: The potential ordinance turned out to be nothing more than a pile of junk.


Residents in Mainz-Kastel knew nothing of the incident.


Of course, everybody living there knows of the 20-hectare (49-acre) US army compound. A beige wall topped with barbed wire protects the site from the outside world; a sign outside warns, “Beware, Firearms in Use!”


Americans in uniform have been part of the cityscape in Wiesbaden for decades, and local businesses have learned to cater to their customers from abroad. Used-car dealerships post their prices in dollars and many Americans are regulars at the local brewery. “It is a peaceful coexistence,” says Christa Gabriel, head of the Mainz-Kastel district council.


But until now, almost nobody in Wiesbaden knew that Building 4009 of the “Storage Station” houses one of the NSA’s most important European data collection centers. Its official name is the European Technical Center (ETC), and, as documents from the archive of whistleblower Edward Snowden show, it has been expanded in recent years. From an American perspective, the program to improve the center — which was known by the strange code name “GODLIKELESION” — was badly needed. In early 2010, for example, the NSA branch office lost power 150 times within the space just a few months — a serious handicap for a service that strives to monitor all of the world’s data traffic.


 On Sept. 19, 2011, the Americans celebrated the reopening of the refurbished ETC, and since then, the building has been the NSA’s “primary communications hub” in Europe. From here, a Snowden document outlines, huge amounts of data are intercepted and forwarded to “NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.” The hub, the document notes, ensures the reliable transfer of data for “the foreseeable future.”


Soon the NSA will have an even more powerful and modern facility at their disposal: Just five kilometers away, in the Clay Kaserne, a US military complex located in the Erbenheim district of Wiesbaden, the “Consolidated Intelligence Center” is under construction. It will house data-monitoring specialists from Mainz-Kastel. The project in southern Hesse comes with a price tag of $124 million (€91 million). When finished, the US government will be even better equipped to satisfy its vast hunger for data.


One year after Edward Snowden made the breadth of the NSA’s global data monitoring public, much remains unknown about the full scope of the intelligence service’s activities in Germany. We know that the Americans monitored the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and we know that there are listening posts in the US Embassy in Berlin and in the Consulate General in Frankfurt.


But much remains in the dark. The German government has sent lists of questions to the US government on several occasions, and a parliamentary investigative committee has begun looking into the subject in Berlin. Furthermore, Germany’s chief public prosecutor has initiated an investigation into the NSA — albeit one currently limited to its monitoring of the chancellor’s cell phone and not the broader allegation that it spied on the communications of the German public. Neither the government nor German lawmakers nor prosecutors believe they will receive answers from officials in the United States.


German Left Party politician Jan Korte recently asked just how much the German government knows about American spying activities in Germany. The answer: Nothing. The NSA’s promise to send a package including all relevant documents to re-establish transparency between the two governments has been quietly forgotten by the Americans.


In response, SPIEGEL has again reviewed the Snowden documents relating to Germany and compiled a Germany File of original documents pertaining to the NSA’s activities in the country that are now available for download here. SPIEGEL has reported on the contents of some of the documents over the course of the past year. The content of others is now being written about for the first time. Some passages of the documents have been redacted in order to remove sensitive information like the names of NSA employees or those of the German foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). This week’s reports are also based on documents and information from other sources.


An Omnipotent American Authority


The German publichas a right to know exactly what the NSA is doing in Germany, and should be given the ability to draw its own conclusions about the extent of the US intelligence agency’s activities in the country and the scope of its cooperation with German agencies when it comes to, for example, the monitoring of fiber-optic cables.


The German archive provides the basis for a critical discussion on the necessity and limits of secret service work as well as on the protection of privacy in the age of digital communication. The documents complement the debate over a trans-Atlantic relationship that has been severely damaged by the NSA affair.


They paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence. No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany. It is a web of sites defined as much by a thirst for total control as by the desire for security. In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.


The documents indicate that the NSA uses its German sites to search for a potential target by analyzing a “Pattern of Life,” in the words of one Snowden file. And one classified report suggests that information collected in Germany is used for the “capture or kill” of alleged terrorists.


According to Paragraph 99 of Germany’s criminal code, spying is illegal on German territory, yet German officials would seem to know next to nothing about the NSA’s activity in their country. For quite some time, it appears, they didn’t even want to know. It wasn’t until Snowden went public with his knowledge that the German government became active.


On June 11, August 26 and October 24 of last year, Berlin sent a catalogue of questions to the US government. During a visit to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland at the beginning of November, German intelligence heads Gerhard Schindler (of the BND) and Hans-Georg Maassen (of the domestic intelligence agency, known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution or BfV) asked the most important questions in person and, for good measure, handed over a written list. No answers have been forthcoming. This leaves the Snowden documents as the best source for describing how the NSA has turned Germany into its most important base in Europe in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.


The NSA’s European Headquarters


On March 10, 2004, two US generals — Richard J. Quirk III of the NSA and John Kimmons, who was the US Army’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence — finalized an agreement to establish an operations center in Germany, the European Security Center (ESC), to be located on US Army property in the town of Griesheim near Darmstadt, Germany. That center is now the NSA’s most important listening station in Europe.


The NSA had already dispatched an initial team to southern Germany in early 2003. The agency stationed a half-dozen analysts at the its European headquarters in Stuttgart’s Vaihingen neighborhood, where their work focused largely on North Africa. The analysts’ aims, according to internal documents, included providing support to African governments in securing borders and ensuring that they didn’t offer safe havens to terrorist organizations or their accomplices.


The work quickly bore fruit. It became increasingly easy to track the movements of suspicious persons in Mali, Mauritania and Algeria through the surveillance of satellite telephones. NSA workers passed information on to the US military’s European Command, with some also being shared with individual governments in Africa. A US government document states that the intelligence insights have “been responsible for the capture or kill of over 40 terrorists and has helped achieve GWOT (Global War on Terror) and regional policy successes in Africa.”


Is Germany an NSA Beachhead?


The documents in Snowden’s archive raise the question of whether Germany has become a beachhead for America’s deadly operations against suspected terrorists — and whether the CIA and the American military use data collected in Germany in the deployment of its combat drones. When asked about this by SPIEGEL, the NSA declined to respond.



The operations of the NSA’s analysts in Stuttgart were so successful that the intelligence agency quickly moved to expand its presence. In 2004, the Americans obtained approximately 1,000 square meters (10,750 square feet) of office space in Griesheim to host 59 workers who monitored communications in an effort to “optimize support to Theater operations” of the US Armed Forces. Ten years later, the center, although largely used by the military, has become the NSA’s most important outpost in Europe — with a mandate that goes far beyond providing support for the US military.


In 2011, around 240 intelligence service analysts were working at the Griesheim facility, known as the Dagger Complex. It was a “diverse mix of military service members, Department of the Army civilians, NSA civilians, and contractors,” an internal document states. They were responsible for both collecting and analyzing international communication streams. One member of the NSA pointed out proudly that they were responsible for every step in the process: collection, processing, analyzing and distribution.


In May 2011, the installation was renamed the European Center for Cryptology (ECC) and the NSA integrated its Threat Operations Center, responsible for early danger identification, into the site. A total of 26 reconnaissance missions are managed from the Griesheim complex, which has since become the center of the “largest Analysis and Production activity in Europe,” with satellite stations in Mons, Belgium, and in Great Britain. Internal documents indicate that the ECC is the operative intelligence arm of the NSA’s European leadership in Stuttgart.


 Much of what happens in Griesheim is classic intelligence work and threat identification, but a presentation dating from 2012 suggests that European data streams are also monitored on a broad scale. One internal document states there are targets in Africa as well as targets in Europe. The reason being that “most terrorists stop thru Europe.” For reconnaissance, the document mentions, the ECC relies on its own intelligence gathering as well as data and assistance from Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) intelligence service.


The latter is likely a reference to the Tempora program, located in the British town of Bude, which collects all Internet data passing through several major fiber-optic cables. GCHQ, working together with the NSA, saves the data that travels through these major European network connections for at least three days. The ECC claims to have access to at least part of the GCHQ data.


NSA staff in Griesheim use the most modern equipment available for the analysis of the data streams, using programs like XKeyscore, which allows for the deep penetration of Internet traffic. Xkeyscore’s sheer power even awakened the interest of Germany’s BND foreign intelligence service as well as that of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which is responsible for monitoring extremists and possible terrorists within Germany.


An internal NSA report suggests that XKeyscore was being used at Griesheim not only to collect metadata — e.g. the who, what, where, with whom and at what time — but also the content of actual communications. “Raw content” is saved for a period of between “3 days to a couple of weeks,” an ECC slide states. The metadata are stored for more than 90 days. The document states that XKeyscore also makes “complex analytics like ‘Pattern of Life'” possible.


The NSA said in a statement that XKeyscore is an element of its foreign intelligence gathering activities, but it was using the program lawfully and that it allows the agency to help “defend the nation and protect US and allied troops abroad.” The statement said it engages in “extensive, close consultations” with the German government. In a statement provided to SPIEGEL, NSA officials pointed to a policy directive Barack Obama issued in January in which the US president affirmed that all persons, regardless of nationality, have legitimate privacy interests, and that privacy and civil liberties “shall be integral considerations in the planning of US signals intelligence activities.”


The statement reveals the significant gap between Germany’s understanding of what surveillance means and that of the Americans. In overseas operations, the NSA does not consider searching through emails to be surveillance as long as they are only stored temporarily. It is only considered to be a deeper encroachment on privacy when this data is transferred to the agency’s databases and saved for a longer period of time. The US doesn’t see it as a contradiction when Obama ensures that people won’t be spied upon, even as the NSA continues monitoring email traffic. The NSA did not respond to SPIEGEL’s more detailed questions about the agency’s outposts in Germany.


‘The Endangered Habitat of the NSA Spies’


The bustling activity inside the Dagger Complex listening station at Griesheim stands in stark contrast to its outward appearance. Only a few buildings can be recognized above ground, secured by two fences and a gate made of steel girders and topped by barbed wire.


Activist Daniel Bangart would love to see what is on the other side of that fence. He’s rattled the fence a number of times over the past year, but so far no one has let him in. Instead, he’s often been visited by police.


When Bangert first began inviting people to take a “walk” at Griesheim to “explore together the endangered habitat of the NSA spies,” he intended it as a kind of subversive satirical act. But with each new revelation from the Snowden archive, the 29-year-old has taken the issue more seriously. These days, the heating engineer — who often wears a T-shirt emblazoned with “Team Edward” — and a small group of campaigners regularly attempt to provoke employees at the Dagger Complex. He has developed his own method of counter-espionage: He writes down the license plate numbers of suspected spies from Wiesbaden and Stuttgart.


At one point, the anti-surveillance activist even tried to initiate a dialogue with a few of the Americans. At a street fair in Griesheim, he convinced one to join him for a beer, but the man only answered Bangert’s questions with queries of his own. Bangert says another American told him: “What is your problem? We are watching you!”


Spying as They Please


It’s possible Bangert has also attracted the attention of another NSA site, located in the US Consulate General in Frankfurt, not far from Griesheim. The “Special Collection Service” (SCS) is a listening station that German public prosecutors have taken a particular interest in since announcing earlier this month that it was launching an investigation into the spying on Angela Merkel’s mobile phone. The trail leads from the Chancellery in Berlin via the US Embassy next to the Brandenburg Gate and continues all the way to Laurel, Maryland, north of Washington DC.


That’s where the SCS is headquartered. The service is operated together by the NSA and the CIA and has agents spread out across the globe. They are the eyes and ears of the US and, as one internal document notes, establish a “Home field advantage in adversary’s space.”


The SCS is like a two-parent household, says Ron Moultrie, formerly the service’s vice president. “We must be mindful of both ‘parents’.” Every two years, leadership is swapped between the NSA and the CIA. The SCS, says Moultrie, is “truly a hybrid.” It is divided into four departments, including the “Mission Support Office” and the “Field Operations Office,” which is made up of a Special Operations unit and a center for signal development. In Laurel, according to internal documents, the NSA has established a relay station for communications intercepted overseas and a site for training.


Employees are stationed in US embassies and consulates in crisis regions, but are also active in countries that are considered neutral, like Austria. The agents are protected by diplomatic accreditation, even though their job isn’t covered by the international agreements guaranteeing diplomatic immunity: They spy pretty much as they please. For many years, SCS agents claimed to be working for the ominous-sounding “Defense Communications Support Group.” Sometimes, they said they worked for something called the “Defense Information Systems Agency.”


Spying Stations, from Athens the Zagreb


According to an internal document from 2011, information related to the SCS and the sites it maintains was to be kept classified for at least 75 years. It argued that if the agency’s activities were ever revealed, it would hamper the “effectiveness of intelligence methods currently in use” and result in “serious harm” to relations between the US and foreign governments.


In 1979, there were just over 40 such SCS branch offices. During the chilliest days of the Cold War, the number reached a high point of 88 only to drop significantly after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. But following the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, the government established additional sites, bringing the number of SCS spy stations around the world up to a total of around 80 today. The documents indicate that the SCS maintains two sites in Germany: in the US Consulate General in Frankfurt and the US Embassy in Berlin, just a few hundred meters away from the Chancellery.


The German agencies responsible for defending against and pursuing espionage — the Office for the Protection of the Constitution and the office of the chief federal prosecutor — are particularly interested in the technology deployed by the SCS. The database entry relating to Merkel’s cell phone, which SPIEGEL first reported on in October 2013, shows that the SCS was responsible for its surveillance.


According to an internal presentation about the work done by the SCS, equipment includes an antenna rotator known as “Einstein,” a database for analysis of microwaves called “Interquake” and a program called “Sciatica” that allows for the collection of signals transmitted in gigahertz frequencies. A program called “Birdwatcher,” which intercepts encrypted signals and prepares them for analysis, can be remotely controlled from the SCS headquarters in Maryland. The tool allows the NSA to identify protected “Virtual Private Networks” or VPNs that might be of interest. VPNs are used by many companies and embassies for internal communication.


200 American Intelligence Workers in Germany


Following the revelations that Merkel’s mobile phone had been monitored, Hans-Georg Maassen of the domestic intelligence agency BfV, turned to US Ambassador to Germany John Emerson to learn more about the technology and the people behind it. Maassen also wanted to know what private contractors the NSA was working with in Germany. When Emerson said during a visit to the Chancellery that he assumed the questions had been straightened out, Maassen countered, in writing, that they remained pertinent.


Maassen says he received a “satisfactory” answer from Emerson about intelligence employees. But that could be because the US government has officially accredited a number of the intelligence workers it has stationed in Germany. SPIEGEL research indicates more than 200 Americans are registered as diplomats in Germany. There are also employees with private firms who are contracted by the NSA but are not officially accredited.


The list of questions the German government sent to the US Embassy makes it clear that German intelligence badly needs help. “Are there Special Collection Services in Germany?” reads one question. “Do you conduct surveillance in Germany?” And: “Is this reconnaissance targeted against German interests? ” There are many questions, but no answers.


Ultimately, Maassen will have to explain to the parliamentary investigative committee what he has learned about US spying in Germany and how he intends to fulfill his legally mandated task of preventing espionage. The explanation provided by the BfV thus far — that it is uncertain whether the chancellor was spied on from the US Embassy in Berlin or remotely from the headquarters in Maryland, making it unclear whether German anti-espionage officials should get involved — is certainly an odd one. Germany’s domestic intelligence agency is responsible for every act of espionage targeting the country, no matter where it originates. Cyber-attacks from China are also viewed by the BfV as espionage, even if they are launched from Shanghai.


The order to monitor the chancellor was issued by the department S2C32, the NSA unit responsible for Europe. In 2009, Merkel was included in a list of 122 heads of state and government being spied on by the NSA. The NSA collects all citations relating to a specific person, including the different ways of referring to them, in a database called “Nymrod.”


The NSA introduced Nymrod in January 2008 and the entries refer to a kind of register of “intelligence reports from NSA, CIA, and DoD (Department of Defense) databases.” In Merkel’s case, there are more than 300 reports from the year 2009 in which the chancellor is mentioned. The content of these reports is not included in the documents, but according to a Nymrod description from 2008, the database is a collection of “SIGINT-Targets.” SIGINT stands for signals intelligence.


             Is it possible that the German government really knew nothing about all of these NSA activities within Germany? Are they really — as they claimed in August 2013 in response to a query from the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) — “unaware of the surveillance stations used by the NSA in Germany”?


That is difficult to believe, especially given that the NSA has been active in Germany for decades and has cooperated closely with the country’s foreign intelligence agency, the BND, which is overseen by the Chancellery. A top-secret NSA paper from January 2013 notes: “NSA established a relationship with its SIGINT counterpart in Germany, the BND-TA, in 1962, which includes extensive analytical, operational, and technical exchanges.”


When the cooperation with its junior partner from West Germany began, the NSA was just 10 years old and maintained stations in Augsburg and West Berlin in addition to its European headquarters in Stuttgart-Vaihingen.


American intelligence agencies, like those of the three other World War II victors, immediately began to monitor Germans within their zones of occupation, as confirmed by internal guidelines relating to the evaluation of reports stemming from the years 1946 to 1967.


In 1955, the British and French reduced their surveillance of Germans and focused on operations further to the east. The Americans, however, did not and continued to monitor telephone and other transmissions both within Germany and between the country and others in Western Europe. By the mid 1950s, US spies may have been listening in on some 5 million telephone conversations per year in Germany.


The easternmost NSA surveillance post in Europe during the Cold War was the Field Station Berlin, located on Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in West Berlin. The hill is made from the rubble left over from World War II — and the agents operating from its top were apparently extremely competent. They won the coveted Travis Trophy, awarded by the NSA each year to the best surveillance post worldwide, four times.


‘A Perpetual State of Domination’


Josef Foschepoth, a German historian, refers to German-American relations as “a perpetual state of domination.” He speaks of a “common law developed over the course of 60 years” allowing for uncontrolled US surveillance in Germany. Just how comprehensive this surveillance was — and remains — can be seen from the so-called SIGAD lists, which are part of the Snowden archive. SIGAD stands for “Signal Intelligence Activity Designator” and refers to intelligence sources that intercept radio or telephone signals. Every US monitoring facility carries a code name made up of letters and numbers.


Documents indicate that the Americans often opened new SIGAD facilities and closed old ones over the decades, with a total of around 150 prior to the fall of the Wall. The technology used for such surveillance operations has advanced tremendously since then, with modern fiber-optic cables largely supplanting satellite communications. Data has become digital, making the capture of large quantities of it far easier.


The Snowden documents include a 2007 list that goes all the way back to 1917 and includes the names of many former and still active US military installations as well as other US facilities that are indicated as sites of data collection. It notes that a number of the codes listed are no longer in operation, and a deactivation date is included for at least a dozen. In other instances, the document states that the closing date is either unknown or that the SIGADs in question are still in operation. These latter codes include sites in Frankfurt, Berlin, Bad Aibling and Stuttgart — all places still known to have an active NSA presence.


Because Americans tended to monitor their targets themselves, Germany’s BND long had little to offer, creating a largely one-sided relationship in which the Germans played the subservient role. Only at the beginning of the last decade did the nature of the cooperation begin to change, partially as a result of the BND’s successful effort to massively upgrade its technical abilities, as an internal NSA document notes approvingly. But the pecking order in the relationship has remained constant.


The former East Germany appears to have beenbetter informed about the NSA’s spying activities than Berlin currently claims to be. The NSA’s work was known to the Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung (HVA), East Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, a unit of the Ministry for State Security, the secret police more commonly known as the “Stasi.” One internal Stasi document noted of the NSA: “This secret intelligence service of the USA saves all radio signals, conversations, etc., around the globe from friends and foes.”


At the beginning of 1990, right after the Berlin Wall fell, HVA officers delivered around 40 binders with copies of NSA documents — obtained by two spies — to the Stasi’s central archive. The HVA officers wanted to preserve the highly controversial material for historians and others who might be interested in it.


Not Enough for the USA


After US diplomats were informed by the German Federal Prosecutor of the documents’ existence, Washington began applying pressure on the German government to hand over the NSA files. Finally, in July 1992, employees of the German agency responsible for executing the Stasi archive handed “two sealed containers with US documents” over to the German Federal Border Guard, which in turn delivered them to the Interior Ministry. Once in possession of them, the Americans used the files as evidence in the trial against a former NSA employee who had spied for East Germany.


Apparently the first haul of documents wasn’t enough for the NSA. In 2008, during Merkel’s first term in office, several NSA employees visited the Stasi archives to view all the remaining documents — from the Stasi’s Main Department III, which was responsible for signals intelligence — containing information about US facilities.


The German Interior Ministry classified and blocked access to most of the material and they are no longer viewable by journalists or researchers. By the time Edward Snowden began publishing the NSA documents last year, only two files pertaining to the NSA remained available for viewing, and both were filled with harmless material. It is unlikely the remaining historical documents will be much help to the federal prosecutors now investigating the NSA.


But one person who could potentially contribute to clarifying the NSA’s role in Germany was in Munich this week. General Keith Alexander, who recently left his position as NSA chief, spoke at a conference organized by Deutsche Telekom on Monday night. When officials at the Federal Prosecutor’s Office were asked days before his keynote speech whether they would try to question Alexander as a witness, they, responded by saying, “We do not conduct criminal investigative proceedings publicly.”


It seems Germany’s chief federal investigator may ultimately follow the dictum given by Foschepoth: “The German government is more concerned about keeping the Americans happy than it is about our constitution.”


By Sven Becker, Hubert Gude, Judith Horchert, Andy Müller-Maguhn, Laura Poitras, Ole Reißmann, Marcel Rosenbach, Jörg Schindler, Fidelius Schmid, Michael Sontheimer and Holger Stark


 Translated from the German by Charles Hawley and Daryl Lindsey


NSA uses 33 countries to intercept web traffic – Snowden Files


June 19, 2014



The United States has made top-secret deals with more than 30 third-party countries so that the National Security Agency can tap into fiber optic cables carrying internet data in those parts of the world, new leaks reveal.


Documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published on Wednesday by journalists at The Intercept and Denmark’s Dagbladet Information show publically for the first time an intelligence gathering operation waged in 33 countries where secret arrangements exist to broaden American surveillance abilities.


The previously unreported NSA operation — a program codenamed RAMPART-A — “sweeps up a vast amount of communications at lightning speed,” according to Ryan Gallagher of The Intercept, by letting the NSA tap into broadband internet cables containing web traffic that might not be otherwise easily obtainable from the originating country.


“It has already been widely reported that the NSA works closely with eavesdropping agencies in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia as part of the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance,” Gallagher wrote. “But the latest Snowden documents show that a number of other countries, described by the NSA as ‘third-party partners,’ are playing an increasingly important role – by secretly allowing the NSA to install surveillance equipment on their fiber-optic cables.”

Together, The Intercept and Dagbladet Information have published a handful of classified internal NSA documents in which the clandestine program and its abilities are revealed for the first time, in turn showing how the US intelligence agency can suck up several terabits of data in only a second by tapping into these cables at intersections where the world’s internet traffic transverses outside of America’s physical borders.


Leaked documents provided by Snowden have previously shown how the US taps into these cables in allied countries where arrangements already exist, either with or without the host nation’s cooperation. According to the latest leak, however, RAMPART-A puts the NSA in places where it is able to collect intelligence pertaining to foreign persons that wouldn’t be easy to gather with existing agreements.


“If you look at a map of the Internet, there are surprisingly few trunks. Most data flows through a surprisingly small number of choke points. If you get access to them, you get access to everything,” security expert Bruce Schneier told Dagbladet Information. “The goal must be to cover the most of the world with as few access points as possible. A lot of Internet traffic flows through the US but a bunch doesn’t. So you’re going to look in places in the world where the data is, if not in the US.”


If your country is in a key location, and if a lot of interesting traffic happens to flow through it, that makes you an important partner,” added another expert, Mikko Hypponen, to the Danish paper’s report.


The NSA declined to comment on “specific, alleged foreign intelligence activities” when approached by both outlets. Previously disclosed leaks concerning the agency’s eavesdropping on foreign intelligence, with and without permission, have generated immense criticism from those countries, however, and has rekindled an international debate on surveillance.


Snowden, 31, is currently in Russia, where he was awarded asylum last year after leaving the US with a trove of classified NSA files taken from the agency during his tenure as a systems administrator for the American government, and is now wanted for espionage as a result.


Official list of SIGINT Partners


Second Parties




New Zealand

United Kingdom


Third Parties






Czech Republic













Korea (South)







Saudi Arabia










House of Representatives moves to ban NSA’s ‘backdoor search’ provision

Members vote 293 to 121 to stop NSA performing warrantless searches of data collected under foreign surveillance program


June 20 2014

Spencer Ackerman in New York



Surveillance reform gained new congressional momentum as the US House of Representatives unexpectedly and overwhelmingly endorsed stripping a major post-9/11 power from the National Security Agency late Thursday night.


By a substantial and bipartisan margin, 293 to 121, representatives moved to ban the NSA from searching warrantlessly through its troves of ostensibly foreign communications content for Americans’ data, the so-called “backdoor search” provision revealed in August by the Guardian thanks to leaks from Edward Snowden.


The move barring funds for warrantless searches “using an identifier of a United States person” came as an amendment added by Zoe Lofgren, Democrat of California, and Thomas Massie, Republican of Kentucky, to the annual defense appropriations bill, considered a must-pass piece of legislation to fund the US military. Also banned is the NSA’s ability, disclosed through the Snowden leaks, to secretly insert backdoor access to user data through hardware or communications services.


“I think it’s the first time the House has had the opportunity to vote on the 4th Amendment and the NSA as a discrete item. It was an overwhelming vote,” Lofgren told the Guardian. She said the vote succeeded despite efforts of what she called “the intel establishment.”


 It swiftly circumvented a carefully crafted legislative package, backed by the White House and the NSA, presenting President Obama with an uncomfortable choice about vetoing the entire half-trillion dollar spending bill.


That legislative package, known as the USA Freedom Act, had jettisoned a measure to ban backdoor searches in order to move the bill out of committee. Losing the backdoor-search prohibition prompted, in part, civil libertarian groups to abandon their support of the House version of the bill. Several senators, including Democrats Ron Wyden and Mark Udall, are seeking to reinstate the ban in the Senate version currently under judiciary committee consideration.


The NSA considers its ability to search for Americans’ data through its massive collections of email, phone, text and other communications content a critical measure to discover terrorists and a sacrosanct prerogative. Its authorities to do so stem from a provision, called section 702, of a key 2008 surveillance law, the Fisa Amendments Act, which Obama endorsed as a legislator and presidential candidate.


During a March hearing of a government privacy board, lawyers for the intelligence community sharply disputed that such warrantless searches are illegal or unconstitutional, as civil libertarians consider self-evident. They contended that NSA ought to be able to search for US data at their discretion since Section 702 authorizes the prior collection of such communications.


“That information is at the government’s disposal to review in the first instance,” Rajesh De, the NSA’s senior lawyer, argued to the panel.


The NSA and its allies contend that searching through the data for information identifying Americans is qualitatively distinct as a privacy issue from an explicitly banned practice called “reverse targeting,” whereby the NSA deceptively structures its broad, foreign-focused interception powers to intentionally collect communications of Americans or people in the United States.


But civil libertarians argue that the distinction is meaningless when the NSA harvests data on a massive scale, inevitably including data from Americans.


“The mere fact that the government’s ‘targets’ are foreigners outside the United States cannot render constitutional a program that is designed to allow the government to mine millions of Americans’ international communications for foreign intelligence information,” ACLU deputy legal director Jameel Jaffer told the privacy board in March.


That board, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, is preparing to issue a report into the government’s backdoor searches. That report, due July 2, is eagerly anticipated by both the NSA and its critics, as it is likely to add momentum to either side in the ongoing legislative debate on the scope surveillance.


Additionally, US intelligence leaders promised Wyden during a hearing earlier this month they would disclose for the first time how many searches for US data under the 2008 law the NSA has performed.


As an indication of how critical the NSA considers its search powers to be, it fought hard behind the scenes to strip the USA Freedom Act of its backdoor-search ban. By contrast, it accepted losing its powers to directly collect US phone metadata in bulk, which it had argued was similarly crucial.


The amendment’s success came as House Republicans were preoccupied with selecting a new majority leader to replace Virginia’s Eric Cantor, who lost his reelection primary. Cantor, a critical figure in the House leadership, was key to aiding the NSA and its allies in weakening privacy protections in the USA Freedom Act ahead of passage last month.


“We’ll be reviewing that amendment, and so I can’t comment on it at this time,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.


“More generally though, the administration has made clear that it supports certain changes to Fisa designed to ensure our intelligence and law enforcement professionals have the authorities they need to protect the nation, while further ensuring that individuals’ privacy is appropriately protected. We believe the USA Freedom Act passed by the House by a wide bipartisan majority accomplishes that goal. We strongly support that bill, and have urged the Senate to quickly consider it.”


Jeffrey Anchukaitis, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence, declined to comment.


Lofgren cautioned that appropriations bills containing controversial provisions do not have smooth roads to passage. But, she said, the vote “helps the Senate understand that the House of Representatives on an overwhelming basis, bipartisan, wants the 4th Amendment respected.”


She continued: “It should change the trajectory of this.”


Treblinka Archaeology


June 21, 2014

by Invictus





During World War Two, National Socialist Germany operated two installations near the village of Treblinka in Poland, designated Treblinka I and Treblinka II respectively. Treblinka I is generally acknowledged as having been a forced labour camp. Treblinka II is the subject of two competing accounts: the orthodox, “exterminationist” view is that it was an extermination camp, to which Jews were transported, and there done to death in gas chambers; while revisionists aver that it was a transit facility, involved in the relocation of Jews.


According to the exterminationist account; approximately 900,000 Jews and 2,000 Roma were gassed at Treblinka II, and buried in enormous mass graves. The bodies were allegedly subsequently exhumed and burnt in gigantic cremation pits. The remains are said to have been thus reduced to ash, surviving bones being crushed by three hundred Jews using mallets. The ashes and bone fragments were allegedly mixed with sand and spread over an area of 22,000 square metres (237,000 square feet).


Two forensic archaeological studies have been conducted at Treblinka. The above process of disposal of bodies would have left much evidence that archaeologists could not fail to detect.


The Krege Study


In 1999 an Australian team led by Richard Krege, and financed by the revisionist Adelaide Institute, examined the entire Treblinka II site. Their Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) indicated that huge pits had never existed there: the vast majority of the ground in the area remained in essentially natural and undisturbed condition. Visual soil inspection and extensive soil core sampling with an auger did not encounter any human or wood ashes, or bone fragments.


The Colls Study


A team headed by Caroline Sturdy Colls of Staffordshire University’s Centre of Archaeology, has been carrying out archaeological work at both Treblinka I and Treblinka II for six years. This study is being conducted on the basis that the exterminationist account is not open to doubt. Colls claims to have made tremendous discoveries which, if true, would appear to prove the exterminationist case.


In November, 2013 the UK’s Channel 5 broadcast a TV documentary on this project, titled ‘Treblinka: Inside Hitler’s Secret Death Camp‘. The Smithsonian Channel broadcast ‘Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine‘, an American version of the programme, in March, 2014. Revisionist Eric Hunt has replied with ‘The Treblinka Archaeology Hoax‘. These documentaries offer insight into Colls’ approach, and permit evaluation of her claims.


Human Remains on the Surface


In the videos Caroline Colls draws attention to small fragments of bone on the ground at the Treblinka II monument as clear evidence of extermination.


Hunt provides recently-shot TV footage from Deutsche Welle of Jewish crematory remains being scattered there.


“Mass Graves”


Colls has stated that she has discovered three previously unknown mass graves associated with Treblinka I. This matter is covered by the videos.


Colls states in the videos that lidar mapping has shown two hidden depressions near Treblinka I. The lidar image shown on screen indicates these apparently small rectangles in an area in which numerous similar features can be seen. Linear features are seen to radiate across the area.


Colls and her team are shown visiting the area in question. It is apparent that it is a clearly-marked cemetery; with a monument, and numerous crosses to mark graves. The radiating linear features on the lidar image are cemetery paths.


The depressions are excavated and a few bones discovered. A third trench is stated to have been dug, yielding more bones. Colls states that forty bones have been discovered in toto. A single adult human skeleton comprises two hundred and six bones.


Colls immediately declares these to be mass graves of persons murdered by the Germans in the Treblinka complex. They appear actually to be individual interments: the lidar image shows them to be comparable in size to the surrounding graves. No effort is made to identify the remains, or to establish the age of the burials. The only evident connection to Treblinka I or II is geographic proximity.


Clearly the claim that Colls has discovered three mass graves is not supported by the evidence. She has merely proven that a marked cemetery contains graves, which is hardly remarkable or relevant.


“Gas Chamber”


Another claim made by Colls is that she and her team have discovered and identified the foundations of a gas chamber at the Treblinka II site. This discovery is featured, or perhaps “re-enacted”, in the videos.


Excavation of a location indicated by GPR, uncovers the apparent scant remains of a building. A few coloured floor tiles are found. The reverse side of the tiles is shown to bear a six-pointed star device. Colls and her Dutch colleague place much significance on this “Star of David” as proof that this was a gas chamber.


Eric Hunt established that this device is not in fact a Star of David, but a heraldic mullet of six points pierced. This symbol, with letters on either side as seen on the tiles; is in fact the logo of the manufacturer, Dziewulski i Lange.


Caroline Colls merely presumes that this was a gas chamber, and presumption is not proof.


Lidar, GPR and the Giant Pits


The most important piece of evidence arising from Caroline Colls’ project, is one to which she is not drawing attention. Her lidar and GPR confirm the absence of the enormous pits on which the exterminationist narrative depends.




Setting aside the highly tendentious and fanciful claims made by Caroline Sturdy Colls, it is clear that the evidence produced by the archaeological projects at Treblinka render untenable the account of Treblinka as an extermination camp.




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