Why Spy Scandal Stokes German Distrust of U.S.

Angela Merkel. Official photo by Armin Linnartz, Creative Commons
Angela Merkel. Armin Linnartz, Creative Commons

“Spy versus spy games are one thing, but spying on the work of a parliamentary committee of one of Washington’s closest allies is worse than stupid. It is very rude,” writes International Affairs analyst Jonathan Manthorpe, pondering the scandal which prompted Germany to ask America’s CIA’s station chief to leave. The incident stoked the “smouldering debate in Germany about the future nature of its alliance with Washington,” he warned in today’s column. An excerpt:

American spy agencies in particular seem unable to make the distinction between what they can do and what they should do or, more precisely, what they should not do. President Barrack Obama has pledged to reform the entire U.S. intelligence establishment, but going on some recent events, the agencies still seem to be operating on cruise control. They continue to gather up whatever information is obtainable without questioning the means involved or the likely value of the product. 

The current breech of fraternal relations between the U.S. and Germany is a context in point. Last year’s leak of NSA material by Snowden included information that the electronic surveillance organization had been bugging the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Late last month, German outrage got another jolt when it was found that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been buying secret documents from an employee of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst. If that was not enough, on Wednesday, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police raided the home of a Defence Ministry employee, who is also suspected of spying for Washington. If true, this allegation is particularly heinous and embarrassing for Washington because it seems the CIA was buying copies of secret documents being prepared for a parliamentary committee investigating the implications of the Snowden revelations … read more (subscription*)

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Spy scandal confirms Germans’ growing mistrust of Washington

Jonathan Manthorpe’s columnist page is here.

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