Did US threaten to stop sharing intel if Germany protected Snowden?

Angela Merkel and Barack ObamaBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
The vice chancellor of Germany has allegedly told an American journalist that the United States warned Berlin it would stop sharing intelligence if it offered protection to American defector Edward Snowden. The claim was made by Glenn Greenwald, a former reporter for British newspaper The Guardian, who became widely known by publishing Snowden’s revelations. The American former technical expert for the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency is currently living in Russia, where he was offered political asylum in 2013. Some of the most extraordinary disclosures made by Snowden since his defection center on allegations of extensive American intelligence operations against Germany. These led to an unprecedented cooling in relations between Washington and Berlin, which worsened in July of last year, after Germany expelled the CIA station chief —essentially the top American spy in the country— from its territory.

Many German politicians, who are appreciative of Snowden’s disclosures about American intelligence operations against their country, have pressed the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel to offer Snowden political asylum, thus shielding him from the possibility of arrest and imprisonment by American authorities. In 2013, however, when Snowden applied for political asylum in Germany, the government rejected his application after a notably short evaluation period.

According to Greenwald, the rejection of Snowden’s application came after direct warnings by the US that all intelligence cooperation between the two countries would seize if Berlin approved Snowden’s bid for political asylum. The American reporter says he was informed about the US warning by none other than German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, following a speech he made in the southern German city of Homburg last week. During his speech, says Greenwald, the vice chancellor, who is also head of Germany’s Social Democratic Party, argued that Snowden should not have been forced to seek protection from “Vladimir Putin’s autocratic Russia” and criticized the unwillingness of Western countries to offer him asylum instead. In response to a comment from a member of the audience, who asked Gabriel why Germany had rejected the American defector’s application for asylum, the vice chancellor said Germany would have been “legally obligated to extradite Snowden to the US if he were on German soil”.

Following Gabriel’s speech, Greenwald asked him to clarify why Germany was so quick to reject Snowden’s asylum application. The German politician allegedly responded that Washington had warned Berlin that it would be “cut off’ from all intelligence sharing in a variety of pressing matters. “They told us they would stop notifying us of [terrorist] plots and other intelligence matters”, Gabriel allegedly told Greenwald. As intelNews reported last month, Britain has also threatened to end intelligence cooperation with Germany if Berlin launches —as it has threatened to do— a parliamentary investigation of British intelligence operations in Germany, which were also disclosed by Snowden.

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Some spy-related nonfiction books for the summer

BooksBy I. ALLEN AND J. FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
It has been well established ever since we launched IntelNews, nearly six years ago, that readers of this blog are a well-read lot. The subject of books regularly comes up in our conversations with our readers, who often ask us for our personal spy-related book recommendations. We have several, but we thought we would suggest some recently published nonfiction for the summer that is now upon us. Our first suggestion is Dr. Kristie Macrakis’ fascinating new work entitled Prisoners, Lovers, and Spies: The Story of Invisible Ink from Herodotus to al-Qaeda, published by Yale University Press. Macrakis, an internationally recognized historian, is Professor in the School of History, Technology and Society at Georgia Tech, where she teaches classes in science and espionage. She is most known for two books on East German intelligence during the Cold War, the most recent of which was East German Foreign Intelligence (Routledge, 2010). In the book, the author displays her knowledge of both science and intelligence, in explaining how civilizations throughout history have used a variety of ingredients to hide written notes, ranging from citrus juices to cobalt, and even urine and semen. Her examples span the centuries as she highlights the role of secret writing in the American Revolution, the two World Wars, as well as the West’s current confrontation with al-Qaeda. The book is loaded with chemical terminology but it is written with the non-expert in mind and will be enjoyed by all those with a serious historical interest in intelligence. Another book we recommend is Glenn Greenwald’s No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the US Surveillance State (Metropolitan Books). Greenwald was the first journalist that the American intelligence contractor contacted when he decided to defect. Snowden’s actions have divided America, and we are aware that this includes this blog’s readership. But Greenwald’s account will be of interest to intelligence observers no matter where they stand on the issue. The author describes how he first heard from Snowden, via email in December of 2012, when he was a writer for Britain’s Guardian newspaper. He then tells the interesting story of his trip to Hong Kong to meet Snowden, which he undertook along with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras. Greenwald’s style comes across as somewhat self-righteous at times, but the account offered in his book is crucial in helping intelligence observers piece together the story of Snowden’s defection, as well as the importance of his disclosures. One final nonfiction spy-related book to consider is The Good Spy: The Life and Death of Robert Ames (Crown Publishers), by American Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist Kai Bird. Read more of this post

Essential links on WikiLeaks video of Iraq shooting

WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Whistleblower site WikiLeaks has released a leaked video taken from a US military helicopter in July 2007, showing US forces indiscriminately firing on Iraqi civilians, killing 12 people and wounding two children. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency. There are several edited versions of the video, which can be found in its entirety here. Cryptome offers a series of selected stills from the leaked WikiLeaks video, with some visual analysis of the footage. It is worth keeping in mind that the leaked video is of substantially lower quality than what the US helicopter pilots saw, because it was converted through several stages before it was released by WikiLeaks. Read more of this post