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Thursday, August 27, 2015
Germany's Spy Agency Used NSA Software To Spy On Germans (And Helped The NSA Spy On Germans Also)
Do you remember how angry the Germans got when they found out the NSA had spied on Germans, (even Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone was bugged)? According to German Newspaper Die Zeit , Germany's national intelligence agency secretly traded information with the National Security Agency in return for gaining access to NSA's most powerful software surveillance program to spy on locals.
The software the Germans wanted to get their hands on is called XKeyscore, which the NSA once described in a training manual as its "widest-reaching" Internet surveillance system.
Die Zeit obtained secret documents between the German and U.S. spying agencies outlining the controversial cooperation. It is unclear whether those documents were provided to the paper by Snowden, Hillary Clinton's email, or some lesser known method.
According to the paper, the German intelligence agency vowed "to the maximum extent possible to share all data relevant to the NSA's mission." Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, also signed on to the deal, the paper said. In other words the German spy agency helped the NSA spy on Germans. Additionally the paper suggests the deal between the two spy agencies may have been made "with little external or political oversight." But by passing confidential information along to the NSA without consulting other government agencies the German spy agency may have violated German law. At the very least they helped the US spy agency do what angered the German politicians.
XKeyscore, was originally revealed two years ago by the Guardian in the UK as part of their release of the secrets stolen by Edward Snowden. The program allows analysts to check though large databases of emails, browsing histories, online chats and webcam photos, or as the newspaper described the software's capabilities, it can collect "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet." Die Zeit reports that the version of XKeyscore provided to German spy masters them to analyze the Internet metadata of a domestic suspects under national security surveillance. And of course the German spies "pinky-swore, crossed their heart promised "to utilize XKeyscore in a manner consistent with German law and in a manner reasonably likely not to result in the targeting of U.S. persons (just like the NSA swore never to spy on the Germans)"
In the end this revelation is bound to have a bigger outcry in Germany than the entire NSA scandal had here in the U.S.. After all, fresh in the Germans collective memory are the secret domestic spying programs during the Nazi era, and the even more recent spying during the communist East German regime, all of which led to other domestic atrocities.