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German Federal Police Helicopter Circles US Consulate

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the just-checking dept.

United States 239

New submitter mwissel writes "The German Federal Police ('Bundespolizei') had sent out an helicopter in late August to fly over the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt and take photos from only 60 meters height — reportedly to search for spy antennae and other espionage related equipment on the building rooftops. A government spokesmen more or less confirmed the purpose of the flight, and it is said that Merkel's chief of staff, Ronald Pofalla, gave the order. This is remarkable, because Pofalla so far stood out with a very U.S.-friendly attitude in the debate around NSA surveillance programs. There was, of course, no word about any findings. It also remains unclear whether this was just plain provocation or a PR-stunt for the upcoming federal elections in Germany on September 22nd."

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Trusting them... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805011)

Like a fox!

Re:Trusting them... (1)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44805631)

US embassy in Ottawa have a dome. Inside the dome there is a huge array of spyware equipment. Dont tell anyone!

But of course (4, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44805013)

This is remarkable, because Pofalla so far stood out with a very U.S.-friendly attitude in the debate around NSA surveillance programs.

I.e. no problem, so long as we aren't spying on him.

Re:But of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805073)

And betides, it is just a plain old silly heli, not a drone!

Re:But of course (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44805131)

I.e. no problem, so long as we aren't spying on him.

Don't worry, they can spy back.

The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy Too [spiegel.de]

Re:But of course (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805289)

Cold for most post ww2 West Germany had a constant hunt for anyone who was a threat to their new democracy.
Too communist, fascist, spreading a cult faith and the West German gov would get interested as noted in West German law.
East Germany had their own special role to play for their Russian liberators.
West Germany was expected to understand its role as a trusted third party in the wider NSA networks.
Unlike some parts of the world this aspect was known rather than having to be exposed by whistelblowers in the face of years of domestic legal reform.

Re:But of course (2)

rea1l1 (903073) | about a year ago | (#44805327)

Most countries don't try to police the world.

Re:But of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805369)

Believe me, the world needs a cop. And Americans make the best ones. If not for American occupation, Europe would still be in a constant state of war. And the Soviet Union did its part also, even if they are a bit hamfisted about it. I, for one, am very happy to see somebody enforcing some law and order on the planet. I don't think you understand the condition we would be in without it. American power is keeping the peace. You should be very grateful that you can sleep as comfortably as you do.

Re:But of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805431)

You are a fucking idiot.

Re:But of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805435)

Right now I'm not fuckin' anybody. Why don't you come over so I can stick it in yer butt..

Re: But of course (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805449)

Said like a good policeman.

Re:But of course (5, Insightful)

Omestes (471991) | about a year ago | (#44805477)

Trolling or genuine, who knows?

Seriously though, if we take your argument at face value, we're forced to ask; who gets to police us? Also, who made our judgements the so-called correct ones? And how can we actually claim authority over international morality when we're pretty much assholes, and do pretty much everything we condemn in others?

Re:But of course (4, Funny)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#44805661)

Seriously though, if we take your argument at face value, we're forced to ask; who gets to police us?

Why, the citizens of that great nation, of course!

Surely, those elected to the highest offices in the land will represent the will of the people.

Re:But of course (5, Insightful)

Pieroxy (222434) | about a year ago | (#44805571)

Believe me, the world needs a cop. And Americans make the best ones. If not for American occupation, Europe would still be in a constant state of war. And the Soviet Union did its part also, even if they are a bit hamfisted about it. I, for one, am very happy to see somebody enforcing some law and order on the planet. I don't think you understand the condition we would be in without it. American power is keeping the peace. You should be very grateful that you can sleep as comfortably as you do.

Americans aren't enforcing law and order on the planet. They are enforcing law and order when it suits them for their economical and geopolitical interests. It's just manipulative police, nothing to do with law and order.

Re:But of course (4, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about a year ago | (#44805669)

It's just manipulative police, nothing to do with law and order.

So ... just like the police then, eh?

Re:But of course (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44805433)

Most countries don't try to police the world.

Certainly not the Germans...

Of course it's a PR stunt (5, Informative)

mechtech256 (2617089) | about a year ago | (#44805015)

Germany has a very advanced military, it could certainly get photos of the roof of a building more covertly than sending out a helicopter and making a public statement.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (4, Interesting)

DasBub (139460) | about a year ago | (#44805077)

Not even military. Germany has foreign and domestic intelligence agencies - the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), respectively. They don't need the po-po's helicopter to check for antennae. They already know or can reasonably guess what intercept equipment is on-site at the consulate (and other sites).

If this stunt's goals were any more transparent, birds would be smashing into them with the frequency of that Hot Butter song.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805135)

I don't think there's anything wrong with this. Its far nicer then sending in armed forced to march everyone out of the country and destroy all the property in the building for "security reasons". Which is about probably how non-us government officials feel about our "embassies etc..." at this point in time.

I'm sure their not like ... oh yay, so glad to have the goonstore open in our neighboorhood.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (4, Insightful)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year ago | (#44805257)

You realize every country in the world uses its embassies as the central headquarters for their intelligence apparatus in that country. So you know that row of embassies in Washington? Every single one of them does the exact same things or tries to. They're just not as good at it.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805295)

If by "headquarters" you use that term very loosely. Anybody spying in-country probably shouldn't be going anywhere near the embassy, because people going in and out are tracked.

U.S., Russian, and Chinese intelligence officers are often stationed out of their embassies, but they also usually have gigantic embassies and enormous intelligence operations which have a chain of command in-country.

If you're a country like Israel, then you keep your spies and their handlers well away from the embassy.

(Of course, I'm making all of this up, because IANAS. But it makes much more sense to me. Although I met a retired spy once, and AFAIK when he was in-country he never stopped by the embassy. If you're going to do some spying, you enter, do your task, and leave. That includes installing equipment, such as cameras which track tail numbers at airports.)

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

aaaaaaargh! (1150173) | about a year ago | (#44805839)

Based of my knowledge from spy novels I'd say there are two sorts of spies: officials and illegals. The mostly former operate from the embassy and spend most of the day with trying to get rid of their pursuers. If they fuck something up, they go home as a persona non grata. The latter are under deep cover, should never meet the former, and their existence will be denied by every embassy. They use stuff like code books, dead drops and run-off-the-mill short wave receivers to listen to number stations. If they get caught, they face life long prison or execution.

If a spy doesn't want to take too much risk, he can always abort mission and send the bluprints of a vacuum cleaner back to headquarters instead. Nobody will figure out what it means.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805819)

Yes, everyone does it, even thought it's explicitly forbidden by the Vienna Convention. That's why the rule is that you don't get caught, at which the US now spectacularly failed.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (2)

Torvac (691504) | about a year ago | (#44805537)

"operation roflcopter". fake news, nobody can be that clueless. and the Pofalla dude said weeks ago: "there is no spying, nsa said so. no need to investigate anything."

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1, Interesting)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | about a year ago | (#44805759)

Yep and also the Consulate is legally US territory anyway so they can put what the hell they like on the roof.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805851)

It's legally US territory as long as the germans allow it to be. And even while it is, embassies generally try to behave. Also, spying from the embassy is pretty much forbidden. If diplomats are caught spying they are generally told to get the fuck out.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805111)

Every gov knows what Russia, the UK and US do with their "Consulate" floors or just put a T2FD outside.
http://cryptome.org/eyeball/rubig/rubig-eyeball.htm [cryptome.org]
60 metres to photograph the site sounds a strange cover story? What could a normal sized helicopter carry in Germany at this point in time wrt quality sigint collecting?
~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligence_Support_Activity [wikipedia.org] made in Germany? Why the low distance?

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805187)

Or rather what every country has done with their consulates and embassies since the concepts were first created. The division between diplomacy and espionage has always been a polite fiction rather than a practical reality.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (5, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44805317)

Every gov knows what Russia, the UK and US do with their "Consulate" floors

Oh come now A., the club is bigger than that! The majority of countries get in on the spy game at some level.
The Germans: The German Prism: Berlin Wants to Spy [spiegel.de]
Very involved in the current crisis: Assad did not order Syria chemical weapons attack, says German press [theguardian.com]
The Finns and Swedes can't be left out: Supo wants expanded net surveillance powers [yle.fi]
Nor the French: France 'runs vast electronic spying operation using NSA-style methods' [theguardian.com]
The club is bigger still: Think US snooping is bad? Try Italy, India orCanada [qz.com]
Thousands of Russian spies in US: ex-CIA agent [ndtv.com]
Gordievsky: Russia has as many spies in Britain now as the USSR ever did [theguardian.com]
Chinese Spies Targeting U.K., MI5 Warns [informationweek.com]
But of course! Chinese use honeytraps to spy on French companies, intelligence report claims [telegraph.co.uk]
Germany accuses China of industrial espionage [theguardian.com]
Germany targets Russian, Chinese spies [abs-cbnnews.com]
Spies in Sweden mostly from China, Russia, Iran [thelocal.se]
Number of Foreign Spies on the Rise in Finland [theepochtimes.com]
Austrian capital ‘filled with Iranian spies’ [jpost.com]
Foreign spies targeting Polish shale - Natural Gas Europe [naturalgaseurope.com]
Spain arrests three suspected of spying for Iran [haaretz.com]
Russia warns Ireland it will retaliate in spy row [bbc.co.uk]
FBI releases papers on Russian Irish spies in US - ‘Ghost Stories’ [irishcentral.com]

Sometimes the trails can get very complicated.

For some reason this video comes to mind: Its a Small World [youtube.com]

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805421)

Cold very few countries of the world could have global reach for their international signals intelligence efforts.
So they have their own citizens, dual citizens or trusted people spy for them.
The list for the cash, computing power, skill, geographic location and ongoing data storage was not easy even with cold war budgets.
Why do you think the UK had to trade some of bases to the US for international signals intelligence efforts if they could go it alone?
The list was tiny. Now every small rich nation runs all it can internally and tries the best it can with any signal that their embassies and mil bases can find.
The tech is now cheap, storage is now very cheap but what most are missing is that global telco reach - only the US ever had that.
The rest of the world has to make do with gossip, sales by contractors needing cash, blackmail or ideology, addiction, dual citizens, people of the same faith over generations been trusted by their new country finding their homeland again and totally selling out.
People get caught, spies get caught, swapped, embassy staff are set up ... every year... the spy game is known.... US/UK signals intelligence news is at another level.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1)

m.alessandrini (1587467) | about a year ago | (#44805501)

It's the game theory: when someone does it, the other ones feel they must too, to not be left behind.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805319)

This is the first time I hear about it here in Germany, so I doubt it is a PR stunt.

On the other hand I have heard about an organized photo shooting of a building bought by the US embassy in Vienna (Austria, not Germany) that is allegedly being used by the NSA: article in German with embedded YouTube video [heise.de]

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805463)

Fun vid AC
Group talking about keeping the best pic "forever". 1970's building, not listed on the Austrian official 'embassy property' list ie private but ~guarded by the Austrian gov?
Interesting how photography was treated around a ~'private' building - ie from public property by the Austrian gov.
2006 a police presence was noted - antenna, CCTV activity, sat dishes ....
Interesting story about a cold war front group "sting" site near the building for people collecting reading material interested in Soviet PR/science is also mentioned near the end of the clip.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (1)

siddesu (698447) | about a year ago | (#44805523)

We didn't see much of the building, but someone probably got the names of all people in that video.

Re:Of course it's a PR stunt (4, Insightful)

gmanterry (1141623) | about a year ago | (#44805599)

Germany has a very advanced military, it could certainly get photos of the roof of a building more covertly than sending out a helicopter and making a public statement.

It is time someone made a public statement. No one seems to understand what this NSA spying means. I have yet to see anyone address the most troubling aspect of the NSA spying. The present, in power President has now got 100% access to all information about the opposition party. He can read their mail, listen in on all calls he has access to all confidential data from reporters, judges, congressmen and senators. How can his party lose? The only information the party in power does not have is mouth to ear communication and snail mail. This is equivelant to high tech WaterGate times 1000. At the close of the Constitutional Convention, Ben Franklin said "You have a Republic, if you can keep it". I'm sorry to say this but "We had a Republic, but it appears that we have indeed lost it". The U. S. government can not function when one political party has all the phones tapped and reads everyone's email. That is why we used to have a fourth amendment.

PR stunt unlikely (1)

gentryx (759438) | about a year ago | (#44805761)

It's unlikely that this is a PR stunt of the government to soothe the public. To give you some background information: the election campaigns here in Germany are in full blast now. The opposition used the recent revelations by Snowden to accuse the Merkel administration of breaking the constitution and betraying civil rights and values. The strategy of the coalition was to downplay everything, ensure everyone that the NSA was not pulling a dragnet through everyone's private data, and that there really way nothing to see. Please move along.

Now, this weird helicopter flight does not reflect that secure, self-reliant stance the coalition has presented before. Instead, it reveals that officials have little clue about what foreign intelligence is really doing on German soil. And so they have to rely on embarrassingly obvious means to gather new intel. This is no display of strength, but of weakness.

TFA tells us of the real mission: (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44805027)

They broke some China.

Spying indeed. They were just trying to help.

Re:TFA tells us of the real mission: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805475)

They were protecting the US Embassy from a threatened terrorist attack.

If it was... (1)

betterprimate (2679747) | about a year ago | (#44805029)

... just a PR stunt or an investigation of espionage, might I suggest dropping 60" frankfurters on Frankfurt? Either way it's a win!

Ich bin hungrig. :(

The Art of Diplomacy (5, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year ago | (#44805057)

The Art of Diplomacy, it is said,
is saying "nice doggy" whilst you look about
for a large enough stick.

This is how (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805093)

This is how you treat hostile countries' foreign representations.

If the US won't play the rules then they should be kept under tight surveillance anywhere in the world in order to prevent them acting as an enemy.

Re:This is how (-1, Troll)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#44805385)

Hostile country? Yeah. US goals are most definitely to undermine German sovereignty, not spend untold billions of dollars to protect and build them up from the ashes of their genocidal fascist state into one of the most powerful democratic capitalist countries in the world.

Jeez. US foreign policy is currently very aggressive and somewhat paranoid, but don't pretend Germany isn't where they are today because of US support (yes, largely to counter Russian expansion in Eastern Europe, but don't look a gift horse in the mouth...)

Re:This is how (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805485)

So you want credit both for stopping Germany from becoming a great power, and then for making germany into a great power? Just want to make sure I understand what goes on the "America Fuck Yeah" score board.

but don't pretend Germany isn't where they are today because of US support

Such arrogance, it almost boggles the mind.

The US isn't spying on Germany to undermine their sovereignty or protect them or any such bullshit, they're spying on Germany because Germany is a powerful nation with a lot of industry that's fighting for some of the same contracts that US companies. It's industrial espionage plain and simple. How the fuck to you think the whole NSA spying apparatus is financed? Through taxes alone?!

Re:This is how (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805543)

That someone has done good in the past is no excuse for wrongdoing now. If you learned that someone who once saved your life now started to rob banks, would you say "well, he saved my life, so I have to support his actions now"? Or would you not rather try to convince him that he should stop robbing banks?

Re:This is how (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805737)

True, but you might not turn him in right away....

Re:This is how (2)

gagol (583737) | about a year ago | (#44805681)

US used his intelligence network to help corporations win bids on big projects, against allies. Intel is more about industrial espionage then "security".

Obama ist kein Berliner ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805113)

Those who recall 1960s history know I am riffing on the famous speech given by John F. Kennedy in which he said "Ich bin ein Berliner" ( I am a Berliner ).

US foreign policy has never been worse than now, and idiots like Obama, Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and of course the fuckwits in the Pentagon who are always hungry to get another war started are all to blame.

As an American, I have recently begun to feel the sort of despair which I surmise may have led people in the former USSR to consume prodigious amounts of alcohol.

Re:Obama ist kein Berliner ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805337)

It would be great if those quoting Kennedy actually know what he said, because taking just that part out of context gives the completely wrong impression.
I wonder how many of the people there during this speech didn't really understand a word of English...

This article caused me to have a vision : (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805149)

Here it is :

The US went too far with its abusive stance toward the rest of the world,
which finally decided it had had enough.

Europe, Russia, and China formed an alliance and brought the US to its
knees without a shot being fired. Economic pressure alone did the trick.

You know, I think this actually is already in progress, it's just that the swine
who control the US military-industrial complex have such extreme hubris
that they won't see what's coming until it runs them over.

Re: This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805261)

I wish your vision come true.

Re: This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805403)

Be careful what you wish for, you might get it. Don't worry though, if you wait 30-40 years you'll find enough trouble coming your way anyway.

Re:This article caused me to have a vision : (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year ago | (#44805293)

Right, because they're so innocent and have no ulterior motives. It's not like Germany totally fucked over Greece while pretending to be its salvation the last few years, right?

Re: This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805335)

The damage had to be contained.

The US banks and credit rating agencies organized the mess in Greece over a long term, we are talking years. It was a trap for Central European banks.

Germany and others had to reduce the impact to their banks. Otherwise the whole Europe would have been in a mess.

The Greece operation failed. Euro is still sytrong and a threat to the Dollar.

Re: This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805665)

Thats correct the dollar will collapse if and only if American dominance is because of oil!

Re: This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805685)

^^^^ "PetroDollar" ^^^^

Re:This article caused me to have a vision : (4, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44805345)

They fucked Greece over by loaning them 100.000.000.000 euro that everybody knows will never be repaid? Greece has been fucked over by the Greeks. If they have a problem with the terms and conditions of the rescue package then they are free to refuse the money.

Re:This article caused me to have a vision : (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805387)

Not salvation, but why would Greece go along with it if Germany (and it's really the EU in many ways) wasn't offering a better alternative than e.g. bankrupcy?
There's been discussion whether there should be more actual help instead of just emergency rescue, but giving away money voluntarily can be a hard thing to do.
And the good number of Greeks who for quite some time have behaved like spoilt brats (going on strike when it can only make things worse, vilifying those they actually get money from, not accepting any own fault for the situation they are in now, Merkel as Hitler drawings, burning flags...) makes it really, really hard for anyone to actually help more than they feel is absolutely necessary. And btw. it is perfectly possible to feel sorry for someone yet still say "no".
And I guess I hereby fullfill the stereotype of being an arrogant ass (though I am not living in Germany currently). And probably I am not telling you anything new, but I felt compelled to try to say that things aren't quite that simple as your anger makes you feel.

Gamesmanship (1)

wrackspurt (3028771) | about a year ago | (#44805153)

Gamesmanship [wikipedia.org] is the use of dubious (although not technically illegal) methods to win or gain a serious advantage in a game or sport. It has been described as "Pushing the rules to the limit without getting caught, using whatever dubious methods possible to achieve the desired end" (Lumpkin, Stoll and Beller, 1994:92). It may be inferred that the term derives from the idea of playing for the game (i.e., to win at any cost) as opposed to sportsmanship, which derives from the idea of playing for sport. The term originates from Stephen Potter's humorous 1947 book, The Theory and Practice of Gamesmanship (or the Art of Winning Games without Actually Cheating).

This smacks of cold war gamesmanship. I've known a few spooks and what they had in common was a deep seated sense of gamesmanship.

Re:Gamesmanship (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805245)

At least they didn't bomb it and say "we are sorry, we were working with outdated maps" like Clinton. And yes, we spy on them it is all in the game, they spy (gasp! with a low flying helicopter all could see) that is cold war thing, typical Assholism.

Blackmail, Deceit, Extortion and Money Honey (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805159)

The real purpose of the NSA's activities are becoming all to clear.

Oh, and that helicopter, was trawling an EMS (ElectroMagnetic Signals) antenna as well as a P-Band InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) antenna.

Just from that I'd say that GFZ and DLR personnel are closely involved.

Call the helicopter a "suborbital" remote measuring platform.

While everyone's attention was diverted to the helicopter, little noticed were the former Stasi types whipping down the door knobs and doing some thermal imaging of the steeps leading to the front and back doors!

Ha ha! I'd say, Gotcha!

Re:Blackmail, Deceit, Extortion and Money Honey (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#44805765)

Oh, and that helicopter, was trawling an EMS (ElectroMagnetic Signals) antenna as well as a P-Band InSAR (Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar) antenna.

And that helps find antennas LISTENING to something instead of broadcasting something?

U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805165)

Under Surveillance

What's a spy antanna look like? (4, Insightful)

HockeyPuck (141947) | about a year ago | (#44805169)

How is one meant for spying different from any other type of antenna?

I realize there are different antennas for different frequency...

Unless of course there are ones that are only made for those frequencies used for espionage and not anything else... "Is this optimally made for listening to encrypted transmissions and not broadcast radio or TV signals?"

Hopefully, Fry's has them on sale in the espionage section.

Re:What's a spy antanna look like? (2)

DasBub (139460) | about a year ago | (#44805181)

I'd ask the German federal police about this. After all, counter-intelligence against foreign state agencies is their bread and butter... (/snark)

Re:What's a spy antanna look like? (2)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805329)

http://www.angelfire.com/rebellion2/sw_underground1/embassy.html [angelfire.com] some pics.
Try a google image search for embassy antennas for the more public pics over many years.
The more interesting work was done inside taking up a lot of space.

Re:What's a spy antanna look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805351)

A spy antenna looks like anything but an antenna. Its a brick wall. Its a tree. Its a picture frame. Its a bike rack. Its not anything that you would see. Antennas are generally designed around the frequencies they are intended to capture. Long, medium and shortwave antennas are large. VHF and UHF antennas are smaller. Higher frequencies are less prone to refraction on the ionisphere, and less prone to scattering. Antennas must be made of metal, and usually must have a characteristic shape, but they can usually be disguised as other things.... brick walls, trees, picture frames, bike racks... Oh, and instead of listening to 'external' communications, its so much better to tap into internal communications.

Re:What's a spy antanna look like? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805565)

Actually they were trying to prove that the U.S. embassy has TV receivers, because the U.S. embassy didn't pay their TV fee.

Re:What's a spy antanna look like? (-1, Redundant)

rts008 (812749) | about a year ago | (#44805707)

A Spy Antenna will look like one of these two antenna images. [websiteurl]

And, they pick up EVERYTHING but your dirty socks!! Even encrypted stuff that is Top Secret!!!! ;-)

                          signed, Morocco Mole

But what's really the truth? (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#44805189)

reportedly to search for spy antennae and other espionage related equipment on the building rooftops

That's what they *say* but the helicopter was really trying to draw fire.

We trust the American people... (2, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | about a year ago | (#44805191)

We trust the American people... it's just your damn government we have a problem with.

Re:We trust the American people... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805219)

You do realise that the American govt is full of American people right?

Re:We trust the American people... (1)

cusco (717999) | about a year ago | (#44805247)

I live in the US, and can tell you in all honesty your trust is sadly misplaced.

Re:We trust the American people... (3, Insightful)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year ago | (#44805705)

Well, most people everywhere are stupid. It's just that most governments are too inept to do real damage while the US government is inept and capable of doing real damage. That's a scary mix.

Re:We trust the American people... (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | about a year ago | (#44805777)

I'd even go further and say that I even fully trust the US gouvernment to have only the best intentions.

But we all know what the road to hell is paved with.

It was a mistake, sorry (3, Funny)

TCM (130219) | about a year ago | (#44805209)

In the name of all Germans I want to apologize for this. It was a huge mistake...

...because the helicopter was missing the "YES WE CAN" banner!

Sorry.

In Response (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about a year ago | (#44805211)

The staff of the Consulate should construct giant satellite dishes out of tin foil and hang them out of every window in the place.

Not American friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805235)

So if we don't want to be spied on we are not American friendly? Thats some attitude ...

Re:Not American friendly (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year ago | (#44805271)

I agree. As an American citizen I demand that that the US take their helicopters and fly from house to house 60' from every bedroom window in Germany to ensure there isn't any spying equipment trying to spy on our consulate. In the name of transparency, all video should be streamed live on the internet. Fair is fair.

Re:Not American friendly (1)

cps42 (102752) | about a year ago | (#44805301)

Oy. I'm American too, and I know 60m != 60'. 197' isn't much better, but really. C'mon.

Re:Not American friendly (1)

KingMotley (944240) | about a year ago | (#44805313)

Just being more thorough.

Re:Not American friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805491)

If you can spy on all of Germany from the consulate, without flying US helicopters over sovereign German soil, then you're probably allowed within international treaties to do so. And that is exactly what the Germans are worried about. I bet the German helicopter stayed over German soil, and never violated any treaties.

In the end this was probably a stunt with two goals: 1) the upcoming elections in Germany, and 2) give a clear signal to the US that the Germans are not pleased with the NSA (note: the NSA go a lot further with their spying than any German agency).

Re:Not American friendly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805623)

You don't need helicopters to get those images.
You already have Google Street View.

Kraut resistance is futile (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about a year ago | (#44805277)

NSA knew of it even before the chopper took off.

Nothing to see, move along. (1)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#44805311)

They weren't sure if they found anything, so they released the one photo they thought looked the the most suspicious the public to see if they could help [wikimedia.org] find anything.

S.O.P. (1)

meerling (1487879) | about a year ago | (#44805471)

I always thought it was standard practice for everyone's embassies to include an entire electronics communications suite usable for both 'secure' communications and 'accidentally' listening in on host nation broadcasts.

Heck, if the Germans didn't know about any visible gear by now, their spy boss is an incompetent buffoon and needs to be shipped back to whatever cave he crawled out of.

Re:S.O.P. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year ago | (#44805547)

The spy bosses hoped to get within bluetooth dongle and wifi range?

Parlament election (4, Informative)

alendit (1454311) | about a year ago | (#44805495)

Just to give some background: Germany will have parlament elections on Sep 22nd, i.e. in 2 weeks.

Re:Parlament election (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#44805817)

This.

It also remains unclear

Uh, no it doesn't. The current ruling coalition is not guaranteed to continue having the majority after the election. We will most likely keep our mother-troll, mostly because she spent the last 10 years wiping out everyone who could challenge her within her own party, but it's unclear if they can rule with their favorite coalition partner or someone else.

Of course this was a publicity stunt. Ponfalla is not in the business of stuff like this unless it is of personal important to the government.

In contrast USA will send drone to their consulate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805499)

and turn in to dust. Bye, bye Germans, don't start fights with U.S.A

are marines on the way yet? (1)

umghhh (965931) | about a year ago | (#44805557)

this aggression will not stand, man!

"an helicopter"!? (1, Insightful)

johnw (3725) | about a year ago | (#44805573)

"an helicopter"? How far can this idiocy of putting "an" in front of any word beginning with h go?

It's "a helicopter".

Re:"an helicopter"!? (5, Funny)

asifyoucare (302582) | about a year ago | (#44805643)

Don't get into an huff about it.

Re:"an helicopter"!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805649)

Maybe he is french and the h is silent. Anyway, English is so inconsitent who can blame anyone. After all, it e.g. is "an honor" and not "a honor".

Re:"an helicopter"!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44805729)

...because 'h' is silent...

It is NOT silent (1)

mha (1305) | about a year ago | (#44805843)

You don't say "elicopter". You DO speak the "h". Silent really, REALLY means "silent".

Re:"an helicopter"!? (2)

DMiax (915735) | about a year ago | (#44805717)

seems like an honest mistake

No suprise here ... (3, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year ago | (#44805801)

Ronald Pofalla is know for his - how shall I put it? - errrm, ... lack of subtleness. How the _chancelors_ chief of staff can order a _police_ helicopter to do what's basically a military/state _intel_ job is totally beyond me though.
We have these nutcase scenarios where people seem to break every rule in the book just for the heck of it. At the G8 convention in Heiligendam we had high-tech tactical bombers helping out the police gathering intel on demonstrators. ... It raised a lot less of a stink than I would have hoped for.

My 2 cents.

Looking for rockfs? (1)

Tim12s (209786) | about a year ago | (#44805831)

Hmm... I dont believe they are thinking correctly. I suspect they are looking for rocks. With nanotech they will have to search for sand. Hell - I'd create brick antennas.

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