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German expose of America's "Secret War" attracts quick, strong U.S. rebuttal: From spying to murder campaigns, reported allegations cover it all by Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Foreign Staff, November 15, 2013.

The first episode of "Secret War," a multimedia documentary series jointly produced by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR, German public radio and television) and Germany's largest broadsheet newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung, was released to the internet Friday morning, and the US State Department wasted no time issuing a rebuttal claiming the program is "full of half-truths, speculation, and innuendo."

Here are some claims the American diplomats found "outrageous":

  • the fact that they [US Bases] are closed to the public in no way implies that illegal activities are being organized there
  • the United States does not engage in kidnapping and torture

Süddeutsche Zeitung responded to the US Embassy in Berlin's denial that the US engages in torture:

Only seven months ago a commission made up of Democrats and Republicans called it "undeniable" that the United States tortured inmates following the terror attacks of 2001. Even President Barack Obama said in 2009 that the American practice of water boarding was torture."
Christian Fuchs, John Goetz, Hans Leyendecker and Frederik Obermaier of Sueddeutsche Zeitung complain in their November 15 article, Germany: Ally and Accomplice in U.S. ‘War on Terror’: The U.S. knows no limits. And Germany looks on—even asking where it can help, how the US has "betrayed the trust" of Germany by not only tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone, but conducting a secret drone war in Africa from US military bases in Germany, which breaks not only international law, but is against the German constitution as well.  

From their POV: “The worst part? Germany doesn't even seem to mind.”

The authors bemoan Germany's "history of complacency":

Every nation has its threshold of pain. You’d imagine eavesdropping on Merkel would be one. Since the snooping targeted German domestic and foreign affairs, it’s out-right espionage. But Germany seems determined to ignore this threshold of pain—a long tradition in this country.
In their November 16 article, Outsourcing intelligence sinks Germany further into U.S.’s pocket, Christian Fuchs, John Goetz, Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer write about Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), a company headquartered in Wiesbaden, hired by the CIA to jet a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, away from Kabul, where the US held him hostage.  Khaled el-Masri was kidnapped by the CIA and held  prisoner for five months, during which time they dressed him in diapers, gave him enemas (what is up with this enema kick the PTB are into these days?  Yuk!), drugged, beat, and tortured him.  CSC did the CIA's dirty work or clean up, depending how you look at it, by flying their innocent torture victim in handcuffs to Albania, then driving him to a remote forest and dropping him off.  

Even after CSC completed this "extraordinary rendition" for the CIA, the German government awarded them over 100 contracts worth millions of dollars.

The CSC and its subsidiaries are part of a secret industry, the military intelligence industry. And they do the work traditionally reserved for the military and intelligence agencies, but for cheaper and under much less scrutiny.

Related branches in this industry include security providers, such as Blackwater (now going by the name Academi). Blackwater is now being legally charged for a massacre in Iraq. And then there’s Caci, whose specialists were allegedly involved in Abu Ghraib and the ‘enhanced interrogation’ methods used there.

the company [CSC] was part of a consortium that was awarded the so-called Trailblazer project by the NSA. The contract was to build a giant data vacuum, which would have dwarfed the later-developed PRISM program whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed to the world. The program ran over budget, failed and was cancelled altogether.
The Trailblazer project is the one NSA Senior Executive, Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack's client, blew the whistle on due to it needlessly costing billions of dollars and invading our privacy, compared to its alternative, ThinThread.  The government charged Drake with 10 infractions which they dropped the eve of trial, which cost him his job and humongous legal fees.

NDR released this video, November 16, of their intrepid reporters going up in a cherry picker to film the spyware on the roof of the American Embassy in Berlin-Mitte and launching a video drone to get a bird's eye view of a Frankfurt CIA spy center.  They film a U.S. airbase in Grafenwöhrof, a CIA contractor in Weisbaden, and an Intelligence job fair in Stuttgart.  The clip shows the somewhat comical response from polizei and Embassy security reacting to the video journos turning the tables and monitoring the spooks.  At the end of the video, the investigative reporters send a message to the spies:

Dear Intelligence Services,

We'll be spying on you now.


On November 17, The Contractor Spies: Hackers for hire and a shadow army by Bastian Brinkmann, Oliver Hollenstein and Atonius Kempmann gets down to the dirty little secret wars carried out from German soil with the help of private corporations:

The U.S. uses Germany to fight an enemy very far away. When U.S. predator drones shoot down suspected terrorists in Somalia, those orders come from Stuttgart, Germany. That’s where the U.S. missions in Africa are headquartered. Private contractors are also heavily involved in this drone war. Their agents tend to drone equipment, calibrate lasers and collect information for targeting.
Private corporations, making millions of dollars in government contracts, are deeply intertwined with US intelligence gathering agencies, some even have offices on military bases and share communication systems.  James C. Clapper, who last March lied under oath to Congress about the NSA not wittingly spying on average Americans, is a perfect example of someone spinning through the revolving door between the US government and private corporations:
The top U.S. intelligence director James C. Clapper got his start at the U.S. military’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), then went to work with the contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and eventually returned to a government post as Director of National Intelligence.
Edward Snowden, who worked in IT at Booz Allen Hamilton is a perfect example of the kind of sensitive information to which even low level private contractor workers have access.

Today's installment is Foreign Customs: U.S. Supersedes Authority at German Airports, Seaports in Name of ‘War on Terror’ by John Goetz, Christian Fuchs, Frederik Obermaier and Tanjev Schultz.

More than 50 agents from Homeland Security, the Secret Service and immigration and transportation services work alongside the CIA and NSA in Germany. These agents enjoy diplomatic immunity and have power akin to German customs and police officers. They decide who can board planes, which containers are loaded onto cargo ships—sometimes they even make arrests, apparently.
The American Secret Service, whose purpose I mistakenly thought was only to protect important American heads of state, but actually was established to hunt down counterfeiters and now cyber-criminals, arrested an Estonian hacker, "Johnny Hell," at the Frankfurt Airport on his way to Bali, a trip during which he would not pass through the US.  They had no international warrant for "Mr. Hell" at the time of his arrest.  The SS passed the hacker to German police, and the Germans extradited this foreign national to the US where he is serving time in an Ohio prison.  German requests for information concerning the hacker were ignored, so they blindly and obediently extradited the 29 year old Estonian to the US without participating themselves in the investigation based on a warrant that was received ex post facto to the arrest.  Although, it turns out that "Johnny Hell" pleaded guilty to credit card fraud, his arrest by the Secret Service in Germany was not by the book and highlights the subordinate relationship German authorities submit to with regard to the US.  As far as the Germans are concerned, the SS arrest never took place.

When the shoe is on the other foot, the Americans do not reciprocate.  When 13 CIA agents were suspected of abducting the German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, and extraordinarily renditioning this poor soul to Afghanistan to be tortured, humiliated, and beaten, the US ignored the German warrants for their arrests.  These kidnappers are still at large.  Can you imagine if an innocent American citizen were kidnapped by the Germans and given forced enemas and beatings in a foreign prison, how outraged we all would be?  Would we stand for the perpetrators not to face any justice at all for this grave injustice on one of our citizens?

1,000,000 people are on the US no fly list, but the list is secret.  American authorities stand over the shoulders of German authorities at the airport and tell them who can and cannot fly out of German airports, and the Germans obey them without question.

United States Blocks German Author, Critical of NSA Surveillance, from Entering the Country

German-Bulgarian author Ilija Trojanow, who has been highly critical of the National Security Agency’s massive surveillance apparatus, was blocked from taking an American Airlines flight from Salvador, Brazil, to a conference with German academics in Denver.
Pakistani human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar continues to be denied entry to the US to participate in a hearing on drones organized by members of Congress and Brave New Foundation.
yet, a young man, who the Russians warned the CIA and the FBI about flew back and forth to Russia without a hitch to come home and allegedly plant bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Patriot's Day.

Go figure.

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