News you may have missed #864

Otis G. PikeBy IAN ALLEN |
►►Germany says Obama’s NSA promise fails to address concerns. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government said yesterday that President Barack Obama’s pledge for new restrictions on mass surveillance by US spy agencies so far offered “no answer” to Germany’s concerns over spying. Merkel’s chief spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told reporters that Berlin would “look very closely at what practical consequences the announcements of the US president carry”, but added that key German concerns had not yet been addressed.
►►Longtime US Congressman who took on CIA dies. Otis G. Pike, a longtime Democratic Congressman from New York, who took on the CIA following the Watergate revelations, has died, aged 92. In 1975, he became chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, which began examining suspicions that the CIA had had its hand in coups in Chile and other countries and was spying on American citizens. The inquiry paralleled one in the Senate, chaired by Frank Church. These committees marked the first time that Congress looked into allegations of abuse by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies.
►►East Timor slams Australia at The Hague over alleged spying.  The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, is hearing a case brought against Australia by the government of East Timor. The small island nation accuses Australia of bugging the offices of key Timorese officials in an attempt to acquire inside information on a crucial energy deal. It alleges that a group of Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) officers disguised themselves as a refurbishing crew and planted numerous electronic surveillance devices in an East Timorese government office. The information collected from the listening devices allegedly allowed Australia to gain an upper hand during negotiations that led to the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) treaty.

Embarrassment in Germany as spy agency building plans go missing

BND seal

BND seal

The German government says it is embarrassed by news that classified blueprints of its spy agency’s new Berlin headquarters have gone missing. Construction for the state-of-the-art structure, which began in 2006, is expected to be completed in 2014, at the cost of 31.4 billion euros, making it Germany’s most expensive building. It is designed to serve as headquarters for 4,000 employees of the Bundesnachrichtendienst, or BND, the country’s primary foreign intelligence agency. But German newsmagazine Focus published a brief article last Sunday, alleging that the top-secret architectural plans for the building had “mysteriously disappeared” and had probably been stolen a year ago, without anyone at the government noticing their absence. According to the magazine, the missing blueprints contain detailed specifications of critical construction features, such as the building’s wall thickness, security and emergency escape systems, telecommunications cable routes, as well as sewage and water networks. Initially, the BND declined commenting on the story, but on the following day a BND spokesman told German newspaper Die Welt that the agency suspects the documents were stolen by a building contractor. Read more of this post

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