German intelligence report sees US leading global energy contest

The Tengiz oil refinery in KazakhstanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A leaked geopolitical study authored by German intelligence sees the United States as the primary beneficiary of the world’s drastically changing energy balance. The report, which was produced by the German Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnach- richtendienst, or BND) was leaked to the Reuters news agency and accessed by Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. It sides with other recent estimates, notably by the International Energy Agency, which suggest that the domestic oil production of the United States might exceed that of Russia and Saudi Arabia by the year 2020. The BND estimates that, through the technique popularly known as fracking (using pressurized fluid to cause horizontal fractures on underground rock layers), the US will be able to exploit oil and natural gas reserves on its territory that were previously considered inaccessible. This could transform the US from the world’s largest energy importer of energy to a net exporter of both oil and natural gas. According to the report, such a massive transformation of the global energy import-export balance could have “particularly dramatic consequences” in the realm of international relations. Most crucially, it could transform the existing balance of power between the US and China. Specifically, German intelligence analysts forecast that, as the US becomes increasingly self-sufficient in energy, it will limit its import of oil and natural gas to its neighboring countries, namely Canada and Mexico. This could potentially lead the US to gradually disengage from the Middle East, allowing Washington’s foreign policy “increased freedom of action” vis-à-vis energy-rich Arab nations and Israel. At the same time, more Middle Eastern oil will find its way to China, as the Far-Eastern country will emerge as the world’s largest importer of energy. Read more of this post

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Germany, UK, share intelligence with Free Syrian Army [updated]

Regional map of SyriaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Two newspapers alleged over the weekend that German and British spy services routinely share critical intelligence on Syrian government troops with rebel forces in the country. In a leading article, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag claimed yesterday that Germany’s intelligence activities in Syria were far broader than officially acknowledged. The paper quoted an unnamed official from Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), who said that the country “can be proud of the significant contribution we are making to the fall of the Assad regime”. Also quoted in the article was an unidentified American intelligence official, who claimed that “no Western intelligence service has such good sources inside Syria as Germany’s BND”. According to Bild, the BND collects most of its intelligence on Syria through a number of ships, equipped with signals intelligence platforms, stationed in international waters off the Syrian coast. These ships can collect data on Syrian troop movements as far inland as 600 kilometers, or 400 miles. The collected data is then forwarded to BND officers stationed at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization base in Adana, Turkey, who are also tasked with intercepting radio messages and telephone exchanges between members of the Syrian government and/or military. The information is then passed on to members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the primary armed force engaged in a fierce civil war against the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Also on Sunday, the London-based Times newspaper quoted an unnamed FSA official as saying that the rebel forces are routinely given intelligence by British spy agencies. The official told the paper that “the British are giving the information to the Turks and the Americans and we are getting it from the Turks”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #754

Jonathan EvansBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
►►New German spy HQ to open a year late. The BND, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, was due to move from its base in Pullach, near Munich, to an enormous newly built center in Berlin, at the end of 2014. But that has now been officially put back by a year. The Berliner Morgenpost newspaper quoted BND president Gerhard Schindler saying he was “regularly losing young new staff”, due to the delay. The uncertainty has meant “they leave our authority and find themselves another employer”, he said.
►►UK spy chief warns of ‘astonishing’ levels of cyberespionage. In a rare public speech, Jonathan Evans, director general of MI5, Britain’s domestic spy service, has said that the West now faces an “astonishing” cyberespionage threat on an “industrial scale” from specific nation states. He said that cyberespionage is now conducted “with industrial-scale processes involving many thousands of people lying behind both state-sponsored cyber espionage and organized cyber crime”. Surely, however, Evans does not mean to imply that the West’s role in cyberespionage is purely defensive?
►►Aussie spy agency lacks resources to vet asylum seekers. An official audit into the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s ability to vet asylum seekers for potential security threats, has found that it is struggling with the “sharp increase” in boat arrivals, rudimentary computer systems and 30 per cent fewer staff than needed. The audit report examined 411 cases as a sample of the almost 180,000 security assessments ASIO completes each year.

German spy agency destroyed employee files of former Nazi members

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Germany’s primary spy agency has admitted that it recently destroyed the personnel files of some of its employees who used to be members of Nazi-era organizations during World War II, before they were hired to spy for West Germany in the postwar era. The discovery of the destruction of the files was made by a group of German historians  appointed by the government to investigate the extent to which the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s postwar foreign intelligence agency, relied on former Nazi officials. It has been known for some time that a tenth of the BND’s postwar personnel had been members of the Hitler-era National Socialist German Workers’ Party, the Gestapo, the SS and its intelligence wing, the SD. Earlier this year, however, the BND’s outgoing Director, Ernst Uhrlau, appointed an independent commission of historians to research the BND’s attitude toward the hundreds of former Nazi officials within its ranks. Now the independent commission has told German media that, in 2007, the spy agency destroyed approximately 250 personnel files belonging to BND employees with Nazi pasts. The commission’s spokesman, Dr Klaus-Dietmar Henke, told German newsmagazine Der Spiegel that the destroyed files primarily related to people who occupied “significant intelligence positions in the SS, the SD or the Gestapo”. Der Spiegel, which described the incident as “a true historical scandal”, said that the destruction of the files “inevitably raises suspicions that agency employees have deliberately tried to obstruct [...] efforts to investigate the organization’s history”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #628 (analysis edition)

Michael Scheuer

Michael Scheuer

►►Should intelligence agencies chase tax evaders? Three years ago, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, paid a whistleblower close to $7 million for DVDs containing information on thousands of secret accounts at a leading Liechtenstein bank. The discs contained data on 4,527 Liechtenstein foundations and financial entities, 1,400 of which were owned by Germans. But should a spy agency like the BND take part in the unglamorous and politically charged business of collecting information on tax cheats?
►►UK ex-spy chief says Google makes spies work harder. The rise of the web and Google means Britain’s spies have to work harder to produce genuinely secret intelligence, according to Sir David Pepper, the former director of GCHQ, Britain’s signals intelligence agency. He said “the Google effect” of so much information being readily available online had “very substantially” raised the “threshold for producing intelligence” for MI5, MI6 and GCHQ.
►►Ex-CIA official says America ‘creates its own enemies’. Americans are in the crosshairs of terrorists worldwide purely due to Washington’s policy in the Muslim world, according to former CIA officer Michael Scheuer, who spoke to Russia Today. Scheuer, author of Through Our Enemies’ Eyes, worked for the CIA for over 20 years and at one time was the chief of the agency’s ‘Bin Laden unit’.

Vladimir Putin ‘targeted by German spy agency’ during his KGB days

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A German researcher claims that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was targeted by West German intelligence in the 1980s when he was a KGB operative in East Germany. In the Cold War’s closing stages, Putin and his wife, Ludmila Putina, who were then in their thirties, spent five years in Dresden, German Democratic Republic. As one of four KGB officers in Dresden, Putin was tasked with infiltrating the local university and monitoring the on-campus activities of the children of Soviet and East German notables. But according to new research published last week, an undercover agent of the BND, West Germany’s external intelligence agency, was able to infiltrate the Putin household in Dresden, and pass private information about the couple’s personal life to her spymasters in Bonn and in NATO. The agent, codenamed LENCHEN, a native German, worked as a translator at the KGB station in Dresden. She reportedly befriended Ludmila Putina, eventually becoming her “shoulder to cry on”, according to Erich Schmidt-Eenboom, director of the Weilheim-based Institute for Peace Studies, who has published several books on the history of the BND. Schmidt-Eenboom claims that LENCHEN became Ludmila Putina’s closest confidante in Dresden. The latter told her that Vladimir Putin had been involved in numerous infidelities over the years and that he often beat his wife. LENCHEN reported to her handlers that life in the Putin household was highly dysfunctional, despite an outward appearance of happiness and normality. Schmidt-Eenboom claims he confirmed the report with at least two unconnected sources with knowledge of BND operations during the Cold War. If the story is historically accurate, it will signify only the second known penetration of KGB structures in Europe by the BND. The only other such example, says Schmidt-Eenboom, involved an agent named COLONEL VIKTOR, who also worked as an agent for the BND in the 1980s. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #621

Pakistan

Pakistan

►►Pakistan denies spying on German forces in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials have rejected a German newspaper report that the country’s secret service spied on German security forces in Afghanistan. Without citing its sources, mass-selling weekly Bild am Sonntag reported on Sunday that Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency warned its interior ministry that Pakistan had spied on 180 German police officers deployed in Afghanistan to train locals.
►►CIA expert says US government lacks security operating system. Industry is not providing the US government with the basic tools it needs to build a secure information infrastructure, according to Robert Bigman, chief of the CIA’s Information Assurance Group. “What we need is a secure operating system”, he said during a panel discussion at the Security Innovation Network showcase in Washington last month. “We gave up some time ago on the battle to build a secure operating system, and we don’t have one”.
►►US increased spy spending in 2011. The US Congress appropriated $54.6 billion for intelligence programs in the 2011 fiscal year, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed last week. The amount, which does not include what was spent on military intelligence, is a slight increase from the year before but could be the end of the upward trend, says CNN’s Security Clearance blog.

Analysis: United States and Germany spy on each other

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Newly released documents reveal that the Central Intelligence Agency has maintained an active program of espionage against Germany in the post-Cold War era, and experts say that Germany reciprocates the ‘favor’. According to an article in the latest issue of German newsmagazine Focus, the US intelligence community, led by the CIA, has been keeping tabs on Germany’s intelligence agencies since the 1950s, and continues to do so today. The magazine’s editors say they are in possession of internal government documents, which describe constant CIA monitoring on the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s main external intelligence agency. The CIA’s spying extends to Germany’s counterintelligence agency, known as the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution (Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz). CIA operations against the Office have reportedly included the interception of telephone calls, some of which involved high-level conversations between German and British or French intelligence officials. Focus claims that CIA spying against the BND actually intensified following German reunification in 1990, as the American agency kept tabs on German intelligence officers with former Nazi or communist past. According to one report, the CIA was able to verify that at least two BND officers with service in the Nazi SS had joined a NATO sabotage unit. The magazine spoke to an unnamed former BND counterintelligence officer, who said he was not in the least surprised by the revelations. Commenting yesterday on the Focus report, Washington-based reporter Jeff Stein argued that a little friendly spying is to be expected among allied intelligence services. The veteran intelligence correspondent spoke to an unnamed former CIA officer, who told him that the espionage between Washington and Berlin has not been “a one-way street” —the BND also spies on the CIA and other American intelligence agencies. Read more of this post

German spy helped facilitate Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange

BND seal

BND seal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Amidst the ongoing media frenzy over the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas, in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, few noticed that Germany was expressly thanked by the Israelis for its role in the deal. Speaking to journalists right after Shalit’s release, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was “grateful [to] German negotiators for helping facilitate the exchange. Commenting on Netanyahu’s statement, Germany’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guido Westerwelle, said simply that he was pleased because the German government was “able to contribute to Shalit’s release”. But what exactly was Germany’s role in arranging the deal? The answer was given on Tuesday by Ernst Uhrlau, director of Germany’s intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). Uhrlau hinted that BND officers had assisted Israel and Hamas in securing the unlikely agreement. Now Germany’s Suedeutsche Zeitung newspaper claims that it knows the identity of the BND officer who acted as the foremost mediator between Israel and Hamas. According to the paper, the officer’s name is Gerhard Konrad; he is 50 years old, six feet tall, and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from Germany’s prestigious Heidelberg University. He speaks fluently French, English and Arabic, which he perfected while working in the Middle East “for several years”. He began his career with BND by representing the agency in German embassies in countries such as Syria and Lebanon. It was there, says Suedeutsche Zeitung, that Konrad cultivated relationships of trust with Hamas and Palestine Liberation Organization-affiliated groups, such as Fatah. He also developed a strong reputation for negotiating with militant groups in adversary conditions. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #611

Kalevi Sorsa

Kalevi Sorsa

►►Diplomat says Finland’s ex-prime minister was Stasi agent. Finnish former diplomat Alpo Rusi said last week that Kalevi Sorsa, Finland’s longest serving prime minister, who led the country in the 1970s and 1980s, is on a secret list of 18 high-profile Finns with links to the Stasi, East Germany’s Cold-War security service. West German intelligence handed the file to its Finnish counterpart in 1990, but the Finnish Supreme Court ruled last year that the list would not be made public.
►►Nazi criminal spied for West Germany. A wiretap operation conducted in the early 1960s by the CIA against the BND, West Germany’s foreign intelligence service, revealed that the BND employed a senior Nazi war criminal, Franz Rademacher, to spy for it in Syria, CIA records show.
►►US government aims to build ‘data eye in the sky’. Social scientists are trying to mine the vast resources of the Internet — Web searches and Twitter messages, Facebook and blog posts, the digital location trails generated by billions of cell phones to “predict the future”.

German agency hired ex-Nazi mass murderer to spy on Cuba

Walther Rauff

Walther Rauff

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A senior member of the German SS, the Nazi party’s Praetorian Guard, who was wanted for the murder of nearly 100,000 people, was hired by West German intelligence to spy on the communist government of Cuba, according to newly released papers. Colonel Walther Rauff, who held several intelligence-related positions in the Nazi state apparatus during the Third Reich, is mostly known for his work for the Main Office of the Criminal Technical Institute of the Reich. While there, he led the working group that designed the so-called gas vans, which used exhaust fumes to exterminate large groups of prisoners trapped inside a tightly sealed vault at the back, while the vans drove to designated burial sites. Nearly 100,000 people were killed in this way in Germany, Poland and the Ukraine, between 1942 and 1945. Soon after the end of World War II, Rauff escaped from an American internment camp in Rimini, Italy, and eventually managed to escape to Chile with the help of the Catholic Church. According to German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, it was in Chile that Rauff was hired by West Germany’s main foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). The organization approached Rauff in 1958, through Lieutenant Colonel Rudolf Oebsger-Röder, another former SS member, who was working for the BND under the alias O.G. Roeder. Der Spiegel, which accessed the BND’s folder on Rauff, says the former SS member was asked to use his Latin American contacts to infiltrate the communist government of the island of Cuba. At the same time that the BND was recruiting Rauff, he was under investigation by Germany’s Department of Justice, for complicity to mass murder during World War II. In 1962, the German government, which had no idea Rauff was working for the BND, successfully pressured Chilean authorities to arrest the former Nazi official. But he was soon released from prison, because a 15-year statute of limitation made his arrest illegal under Chilean law. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #596

August Hanning

August Hanning

►►Analysis: China’s growing spy threat. Extensive and well-research analysis by Alex Newman in The Dipomat magazine. The article contains input by –among others– Charles Viar, of the Center for Intelligence Studies, Larry Wortzel, formerly of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, and intelNews’ own Joseph Fitsanakis.
►►Dutch court orders compensation for Indonesian massacre widows. The Dutch state is responsible for executions committed by colonial troops at an Indonesian village in 1947 and relatives of victims should be compensated, a Dutch court has ruled. Eight widows and one survivor from the town of Rawagedeh, east of Jakarta, took the Dutch state to court in 2008 to claim compensation for the execution of men and boys on December 9, 1947 by Dutch colonial troops.
►►Bush official says Germany partly responsible for Iraq War fiasco. A few weeks ago, August Hanning, the former Director of Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the BND, accused the Bush administration of consciously falsifying intelligence supplied by Germany in order to justify going to war in Iraq. Hanning’s charges related to ‘Curveball’, an Iraqi defector to Germany who supplied the CIA with false information about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, in order to justify his political asylum. But now the American side is fighting back. Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff has told German newspaper Die Welt that the Germans were “at least partly responsible” for the war (article in German).

US misused our intel to justify Iraq War, says German ex-spy chief

August Hanning

August Hanning

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The former Director of Germany’s foreign intelligence service has accused the Bush administration of consciously falsifying intelligence supplied by Germany in order to justify going to war in Iraq. August Hanning, who served as Director of Germany’s Bundesnachrichtendienst (known as BND) from 1998 to 2005, said that the BND had no part in the deception, and that “the responsibility for the war lies solely with the Americans”. In an interview to the Sunday edition of German national newspaper Die Welt, Hanning explained that the administration of US President George W. Bush was especially interested in intelligence collected by the BND from an Iraqi defector codenamed ‘Curveball’. The defector, whose real name is Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, arrived in Germany in 1999 and applied for political asylum, saying he had been employed as a senior scientist in Iraq’s biological weapons program. Among other things, he told his BND debriefing team that Saddam Hussein had built a fleet of biological weapons labs on wheels, in order to avoid detection from America and other countries. After consulting with biological weapons experts, the BND expressed serious doubts about Curveball’s reliability, but kept him in Germany nonetheless. Several years later, al-Janabi confirmed the BND’s suspicions, by admitting that he had invented his allegations in order to help bring down the regime of Saddam Hussein. He also admitted that he was in reality a taxi driver from Baghdad, who had used his undergraduate knowledge of engineering to get asylum in Germany. At the time, said Hanning, the BND strongly and repeatedly communicated to the CIA its doubts about Curveball’s claims, something which is known. What is not known, however, is that Hanning personally wrote to then CIA Director George Tenet and urged him to adopt a skeptical approach to the defector’s allegations. The former BND chief told Die Welt that he was “assured by the Americans that our intelligence would not be used in Powell’s speech”. Read more of this post

News you may have missed #549

Lo Hsien-che

Lo Hsien-che

►►Taiwan general who spied for China gets life. A court in Taiwan has sentenced Lo Hsien-che to life imprisonment, for spying for the People’s Republic of China. As intelNews reported before, Major General Lo gave national secrets to his mistress, a “tall, beautiful and chic” Chinese female operative, who held an Australian passport. Taiwanese counterintelligence investigators said this was Taiwan’s most serious espionage scandal in almost fifty years.
►►Did German intelligence protect world’s most wanted Nazi criminal? The German intelligence service, the BND, destroyed the file of the world’s most-wanted Nazi criminal, Alois Brunner, and may have tried to recruit him into its ranks, German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend. The order to destroy Brunner’s file came “at some point between 1994 and 1997″, according to the magazine. Few of those knowledgeable of BND’s history will be surprised. Incidentally, intelligence observers may remember that, in 1961 and 1980, Brunner, who lived in Syria, was injured by postal bombs sent by Mossad agents.
►►Analysis: New Czech spy law will not curtail abuse. Authorities in the Czech Republic have drafted a new law aimed, partly, at limiting the mandates of the country’s domestic Security and Information Service (BIS) and the Office of Foreign Relations and Information (ÚZSI) –the Czech foreign espionage agency. Read more of this post

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