Remember all the Angst and outrage from the Merkel government when She Who Is Not To Be Spied Upon, Frau Bundeskanzler, discovered that the American national security agency was tapping her cell phone? At the time, we read all the outraged op-ed pieces that it simply wasn't a good thing for allies to spy on each other. Indeed, consider the following RT article, reporting on a recent article on Germany's own international espionage efforts in Der Spiegel, shared by Mr. S.D.:
As the RT article points out, the outrage expressed by the Merkel government is more than disingenuous:
Spying on friends is not acceptable,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose mobile phone had also been tapped by the NSA, declared when the scandal broke.
There's really only two ways to read this, in the light of our high octane speculation of the day, but first, we must dispense, once again, of a naive idea that some people have, and that is the idea that allies don't spy on each other. To put this point "country simple," allies spy on each other all the time, and if that's still not clear, then maybe this will drive the point home: France spies on Italy, Germany, the UK, the USA, Japan, and just about every other major country; the UK spies on France, Italy, Germany, the USA, Japan, and just about every other major country; Italy spies on France, the UK, USA, Germany, and just about every other major country...and so on.
So we really shouldn't be all that surprised to read that when Frau Merkel was expressing outrage at American spying on her country, that behind her back, her fingers were crossed, knowing full well her own BND was spying on:
...the embassies and consulates of France, Great Britain, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, and even the Vatican...
not to mention
...the Ministries of Interior of Poland, Austria, Denmark and Croatia; US diplomatic missions at the EU and UN, as well as the US Treasury Department and Department of the Interior in Washington.
But there's a bigger story here, and it lies carefully hidden between the lines: "Spying on friends is not acceptable," said Chancellorin Merkel. And maybe she was telling the truth, insofar as the German intelligence community is concerned, for maybe the list above - and perticularly the American component, given its prominence - is no longer considered "friendly," and perhaps the revelation of the extent of German spying on the USA is really a symbol of the reassessment of the USA and its role that I have argued is slowly occurring in the capitals of the European powers, Berlin among them.
However, digging deeper exposes something else, and here comes our high octane speculation: that is the revelation that much of the German effort seems to be concentrated upon the embassies of various countries inside of Germany, and what this suggests is a massive and ongoing counter-intelligence effort; what exactly this may be, and why it's being conducted, the Germans are not saying, nor would they be expected to. But clearly the implication is that they are looking for something, a leak, or a network of leaks perhaps of an international nature, something that hides itself in and behind the embassies of "friendly nations." Additionally, one notes that this story is being carried to an English speaking audience by RT, notably, without the slightest suggestion of disapproval from that media outlet. And at the deepest level, there is yet another disturbing thing, for syping on the embassies of various nations, or on internal departments of government, suggests both a "humint"(human intelligence) capacity in the spied-upon countries, as well as a SIGINT (signals or electronic intelligence) capacity. We know what the historical antecedents for any German HUMINT capability against American intelligence are. The real question is, what precisely is the capability in electronic and signals intelligence?
Whatever is going on, my suspicion is this is a much bigger story than either RT or Der Spiegel are willing to admit, for there are questions of capability, resources, and motivation that are raised by the pattern of this activity, but no easy, and certainly no palatable, answers.
See you on the flip side...