Aletho News


UK spying on Germany’s major data cable to US triggers media storm

RT | June 25, 2013

A wave of outraged comments have swept the German media after it was revealed Monday that British secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) wiretapped the dataflow of Germany’s major transatlantic cable.

The northern German public broadcaster NDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported late on Monday that Germany’s external intelligence service BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) has been in the dark about GCHQ wiretapping Transatlantic Telephone Cable No. 14 (TAT-14) connecting Germany with the US via UK, in the framework of its Tempora data collection project.

The TAT-14 fiber optic cables entered service in 2001. It is operated by private consortium German Telekom and used by around 50 international communication companies for phone calls, internet connection, data transfer etc.

Countries like Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the UK itself also use this cable for internet connection to North America.

The capacity of the 15,000km TAT-14 is enormous; it transfers hundreds of gigabytes of data per second in both directions. The report claimed British GCHQ has already had access to 21,600 terabytes of private and business German data transferred through the cable.

‘We haven’t asked NSA and GCHQ to protect us’

The initial reaction from official Berlin concerning Edward Snowden’s revelations about British intelligence straddling Germany’s major fiber optics cables without Berlin’s knowledge was rather moderate.

Senior German Interior Ministry official Ulrich Weinbrenner admitted to the Bundestag committee that it was known “in general form” that foreign tapping programs – like American PRISM and British Tempora – existed.

Having met American President Barack Obama last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cautiously commented that collecting information needs ‘proportionality’ and that “the free democratic order is based on people feeling safe.”

However, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert announced that Berlin wanted explanations from NATO allies “on what legal basis and to which extent” surveillance had been conducted.

The head of the Free Democratic Party parliamentary group, Rainer Brüderle, demanded an investigation.

“A comprehensive monitoring of citizens in the network cannot and will not be accepted ,” he told Passau Neue Presse.

“We need to step back here and say clearly: mass surveillance is not what we want,” said Jan Philipp Albrecht, a German Green member in charge of a planned overhaul of the European Union’s data protection laws.

“We urge the Federal Government and the EU Commission to initiate an infringement proceedings against the UK government,” which would have to deal with the matter, Albrecht said to Berliner Zeitung.

“The Federal Government and the Commission must take the issue of protecting fundamental rights seriously,” the rapporteur added in the Judiciary Committee.

Albrecht’ thoughts were echoed by CSU MEP Manfred Weber who told Berliner Zeitung that “If European law has been broken, such as in relation to the retention, the Commission must act.”

The harshest comment came from German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, who dubbed the total eavesdropping from a NATO ally a “Hollywood nightmare.”

Federal Commissioner for Data Protection Peter Schaar called on the federal government to proceed on an international level against data espionage from abroad.

“The federal government must insist that our emails will not be penetrated by foreign intelligence services,” he demanded according to Bild newspaper.

The methods used by the American NSA and British GCHQ agencies are “secret, but lawful” and “subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards,” stated UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

But such statements have produced little effect on the public or within expert communities.

“How much and which data of German citizens and companies had been secretly accessed by the Anglo-American intelligence services NSA and GCHQ, for example by tapping glass fiber cables?” questioned Greens party parliamentarian Hans-Christian Ströbele, as quoted by Deutsche Welle (DW).
‘Not our laws’

“The shoulder-shrugging explanation by Washington and London that they have operated within the law is absurd. They are not our laws. We didn’t make them. We shouldn’t be subject to them,” Spiegel online columnist Jakob Augstein. “We have not asked the NSA and GCHQ to ‘protect’ us,” he said.

Gisela Pilz, a data protection expert with the parliamentary group of the liberal FDP, the junior partner in the governing coalition, agrees.

“We observe with a great deal of concern and dismay the amount of data that has been collected and stored,” she told DW.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government was caught in the crossfire of criticism for not ensuring national digital security.

It is the responsibility of the German government to see that foreign agencies no longer process the data of German citizens and companies, Augstein stressed, because “a government that cannot make that assurance is failing in one of its fundamental obligations: to protect its own citizens from the grasp of foreign powers,” he concluded. “Germans should closely observe how Angela Merkel now behaves.”

The head of the Bundestag’s intelligence supervisory committee, opposition Social Democrats deputy Thomas Oppermann, called to speed up the elaboration of data privacy legislation currently being drafted in the EU.

June 26, 2013 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. The total surveillance and copying of all German communications to, from and through the USA and UK, is simply an act of war carried out to map legal political opposition and to convey and exploit commercial advantage for corporate and political initiatives allied with the US and UK spying agencies. The US and UK may have created a veil of internal legality for spying on all German communications but the German government must perceive the surveillance as an act of war against Germany. The German nation is entitled and obligated to respond to defend its sovereignty, its integrity and its national interests. The corporate leadership of the US and UK uni-polar alliance has no more regard whatsoever for national sovereignty in Germany than it has for national sovereignty in Italy, Serbia, Syria, Canada or Libya. The corporate leadership does have regard for threats to the uni-polar globalization mission wherever they occur and they authorize themselves and their subject nations to interfere on their behalf. That interference however window dressed as humanitarian is now the primary function of NATO as articulated through US, UK and allied realpolitik. Maybe the Germans will wake-up and see the threat to German sovereignty in their blithe future as handmaidens of corporate globalization and perhaps Germany may see the need engage with and defend sovereignty at home and abroad and strongly support the non-aligned movement of nations which is being neutralized and carved-up for corporate consumption. Germany, please take the red pill and drop out of your corporate globalization induced delusion.

    Michael\\ victoria BC


    Comment by michael major | June 26, 2013

    • The empire is laid bare for all to see. Any nation that is being dominated in such a scheme that is not reciprocal is obviously not only lacking sovereignty but is in fact occupied.

      Liberal democratic institutions with free markets and transparency is not what the “good war” was fought about on the part of the West. It was plainly empire destroying independent outliers.

      Ahmadinejad and Chavez were the new Hitlers, just as the empire’s propaganda teaches.


      Comment by aletho | June 26, 2013

  2. I agree with Aletho but a more general popular agreement on the situation and threat is so very desirable to achieve impetus for real change. But, achieving consensus is made more difficult by continuously illustrating the present expansionist nature of corporate global dominion with bits of historical imagery derived from 3,000 years of oppressive and exploitative empires. When we use historical references to the brutal nazification of western and eastern europe, we are in a sense telling our citizens that they should become alarmed and active only when they see foreign, steel helmeted, jackbooted stormtroopers in the streets. Though comparisons and allusions to the strategy and tactics of other empires can be instructive, our resistance to globalization and its humanitarian excused obliteration of national sovereignty is an entirely new offensive strategy to which we must very strategically respond. Effective response will require not pretending we are confronting the 1940 Wermacht but the 2013 allied corporate powers which through their control of the most powerful governments have become ubiquitous, all seeing and omnipotent and are now able to mobilize the global economy and media moulded public sympathy as war tools against any recalcitrant non-aligned national opponents provided they do so only one or two at a time. If we try to see a Mussolini, Franco or Hitler’s ego and achille’s heels in the uni-polar enemy of sovereign peaceful co-existence then we fail. We must see it for what it really is, what it wants and how it feeds and expands. Understanding the strategic opponent and not just the apparently uniformed enemy is the first and most important step to strategic response. M\\


    Comment by Michael\\ | June 26, 2013

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