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German Intelligence Spying On Allies, Recorded Kerry, Clinton, and Kofi Annan

Soulskill posted about a month ago | from the turnabout-is-fairly-played-out dept.

Government 170

cold fjord writes: According to Foreign Policy, "The revelation that Germany spies on Turkey, a NATO member, should dispel any notion that spying on allies violates the unwritten rules of international espionage. ... For nearly a year, the extent of NSA surveillance on German leaders ... has drawn stern rebuke from the German political and media establishment. ... Merkel went so far as to publicly oust the CIA station chief in Berlin. 'Spying among friends is not at all acceptable,' Merkel said. ... [C]alls made by Secretary of State John Kerry and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were accidentally recorded. ... 'It's a kind of delightful revelation given the fact that the Germans have been on their high horse.' Christian Whiton, a former ... State Department senior advisor, added that the report on German spying is a perfect example of why rifts over intelligence among allies should be handled quietly and privately." The Wall Street Journal adds, "Cem Özdemir, the head of the Green party and a leading German politician of Turkish descent, told Spiegel Online it would be 'irresponsible' for German spies not to target Turkey given its location as a transit country for Islamic State militants from Europe." Further details at Spiegel Online and The Wall Street Journal."

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Bottom line... (2)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | about a month ago | (#47705815)

...nation states are always a bunch of hypocritical jerks.

Color me incredibly unsurprised here - every nation state is built upon a foundation of distrust. Distrust of other nation states, and distrust of even their own citizens.

Hell, if people could actually trust each other, we wouldn't *need* nation states in the first place.

Oblig. Madison quote: (2)

daemonhunter (968210) | about a month ago | (#47705897)

" If men were angels, no government would be necessary." - James Madison, Federalist Papers #51

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706549)

As much as I respect Mr. Madison, a basic grasp of Rabbinic lore or even a detailed study of Isaiah's writings will provide examples of angels whose actions were explicit violations of their purpose for existence*.

*Imagine if your text editor one day decided that it hated taking your orders, conspired with the midi synthesizer, and together declared themselves the true rulers of your PC.

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706653)

Well there's a kind of circular logic. Angels that are acting nonangelicly are no longer angels but fallen angels. I may be mistaken, but angels that went against God's will tend to receive swift justice.

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (1)

aevan (903814) | about a month ago | (#47706861)

Is angels a species or position then? Is falling a bureaucratic thing, a holy impeaching? Some biological response to ethical violation?

"No True Angel would rebel against God" =P

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47707115)

Both? Presumably of the same genus as humans since there was some bumpin uglies goin on back in the day. It's a free will thing. Angels were created with the sole purpose of being conduits of God's will, ie messengers. If they're no longer serving God they can't really be called angels anymore, because that's their sole purpose. Metatron was Enoch son of Noah transformed to an angel. So I guess in that sense you could kind of call it a position.

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a month ago | (#47707185)

Both.. God is the creator and can change his creations. But angels are defined as a messenger from God or as a guardian of human beings. So it is like a title and a species. A fallen angel is a former angel who sinned and was cast into into hell and committed to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment.

Oh, and we are talking about angels so there is a presumption of a real God assuming the angels are also real- at least for the sake of conversation.

Re:Oblig. Madison quote: (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707221)

so you're saying there is no governance system in heaven? that makes no sense.

Re:Bottom line... (4, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about a month ago | (#47706013)

...nation states are always a bunch of hypocritical jerks.

Oh please, don't be disingenuous. It's been well known by everybody for decades that every state in the world spies on all the other statse, and that to a certain extent, every state spies on every one of its citizens too.

The real problem comes when a certain state is outed, and flat out lies about its domestic and international spying activities to the representants of its own people.

Re:Bottom line... (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47707083)

It's been well known by everybody for decades that every state in the world spies on all the other states

On balance, that is a GOOD THING. Exactly 100 years ago, the German Army was marching through Belgium, the Russians were preparing to invade East Prussia, and millions of men were being mobilized all over Europe. World War One was a result of a series of diplomatic blunders, secret treaties, and severe misjudgements by many leaders of the intentions of both enemies and allies. It is quite likely that it could have been avoided if better intelligence had been available. Voluntary mutual transparency would be best, but spying is still better than secrecy.

Re:Bottom line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47708101)

Um, No?

All those 'secret treaties'? No.

AC

Re:Bottom line... (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about a month ago | (#47707739)

It's been well known by everybody for decades that every state in the world spies on all the other statse, and that to a certain extent, every state spies on every one of its citizens too.

The real problem comes when a certain state is outed, and flat out lies about its domestic and international spying activities to the representants of its own people.

But you'd really expect a state to admit to their spying? It's just as well known that covert operations are covered by deniability and secret classifications. At least where Int'l spying is concerned, anyway.

Re:Bottom line... (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a month ago | (#47706283)

Hell, if people could actually trust each other, we wouldn't *need* nation states in the first place.

Nation states killed 350 million people [hawaii.edu] in the last century alone.

The onus is on nation states' defenders to show that neighborly spats and other small disputes would do worse than that. It's not like private conflict-resolution services don't already exist (and are always preferred in business contracts). Every lack-of-imagination excuse people have for "needing" nation states must be justified vis-a-vis the demonstrated body count (and that's only taking the utilitarian stance, not even the moral one).

If somebody showed up today promising peace in exchange for executing a tenth of the world's population, they'd be locked up in the psychopath ward and the religious people would call him an antichrist.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

Old97 (1341297) | about a month ago | (#47706349)

Who would enforce the contracts? Contracts of all kind are enforced by government, i.e. the states you think are unnecessary. It's the states that provide the mechanisms to make and enforce laws, contracts, private property, etc. How would you replace that? How does anarchy work exactly?

Re:Bottom line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706533)

I found this [imdb.com] HBO documentary about it.

Re:Bottom line... (5, Insightful)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706693)

That's exactly the point. The problem with anarchists is that there is no such as anarchy. Humans naturally create social circles and tribes. Removing "governments" or "nation-states" would only result in tribalism. Hatfields vs McCoys, etc.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | about a month ago | (#47707747)

That's exactly the point. The problem with anarchists is that there is no such as anarchy. Humans naturally create social circles and tribes. Removing "governments" or "nation-states" would only result in tribalism. Hatfields vs McCoys, etc.

Absolutely this, spot on. Where are my mod points?

Re:Bottom line... (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about a month ago | (#47707027)

Much as with credit ratings. All voluntary transactions include a mutually agreeable arbitrator in case of contract dispute. If you fail to fulfill your contract, the arbitrator marks it as such on your contract fulfillment rating. Fail to abide by the arbitrator's corrective directives, and your contract rating falls more severely, to the point you have to accept very bad terms on future contracts until you repair your rating. That's the anarcho-capitalist, totally government-free version of the solution.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

digsbo (1292334) | about a month ago | (#47707049)

Also, it's government that often *prevents* contract enforcement. Limited liability is a great example. One saying in anarcho circles is "a free society is a full liability society". There are lots of examples of companies and people getting out of contracts. Thus, this suggests the government is not effective in enforcing contracts.

Re:Bottom line... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707147)

Much as with credit ratings.

I assure you, I have NO voluntary interaction with credit ratings agencies.

Re:Bottom line... (3, Insightful)

jratcliffe (208809) | about a month ago | (#47707267)

Much as with credit ratings. All voluntary transactions include a mutually agreeable arbitrator in case of contract dispute. If you fail to fulfill your contract, the arbitrator marks it as such on your contract fulfillment rating. Fail to abide by the arbitrator's corrective directives, and your contract rating falls more severely, to the point you have to accept very bad terms on future contracts until you repair your rating. That's the anarcho-capitalist, totally government-free version of the solution.

This scenario doesn't do much for the party injured, however. If your roofer caused your house to collapse, the fact that it's going to be a black mark in his book, and make it harder to get contracts going forward, doesn't help you keep the rain out of your living room.

Re:Bottom line... (2)

idontgno (624372) | about a month ago | (#47707709)

More to the point, dead former customers can't seek arbitration. So a sufficiently failed roof (i.e., lethally collapsed) is a guaranteed win for the roofer.

Every system is gamed. The system described by GPP is optimized for the gamer, to the fundamental detriment of anyone "playing fair".

Re:Bottom line... (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a month ago | (#47707053)

How would you replace that? How does anarchy work exactly?

There are entire sections of libraries about how this has worked in the past, works now (every unregulated transaction), and what kinds of improvements could be made in the future, but you can YouTube Bob Murphy [youtube.com] for some gentle introductions. Just be careful of the "but who would pick the cotton?" arguments.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a month ago | (#47707345)

Who would enforce the contracts?

Local courts, backed up by the local police. Courts and police both predate the concept of the modern nation state.

How does anarchy work exactly?

This is the Fallacy of the Excluded Middle [wikipedia.org] . Anarchy is NOT the only alternative to sovereign nation states. There are many other alternatives. Anarchy is only the most extreme. World government would be another extreme. Between the two, there could be partial surrendering of sovereignty to international courts, and dispute resolution mechanisms such as the WTO. There are plenty of examples where this has worked: The fifty states of the USA, the European Union, and even the Holy Roman Empire, which worked pretty well when outsiders weren't invading.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706765)

Nation states are not artifiical constructs and do not need defending. They are naturally forming political entities based primarily in cultural and ethnic ties. For example the Kurds are a nation but they are not a nation state because they do not have political borders dictating the scope of their nation. Humans naturally form nations of like individuals and then seek to dictate their scope of control thus creating a nation state. Essentially, my people live here we control this farm land and river ways for our benefit; then later, my people need more space so I'm going to take this farm land and water for my people's benefit.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707249)

if nation states killed 350 million people, then how come there are so many people in the world?

Re:Bottom line... (1)

cforciea (1926392) | about a month ago | (#47707973)

I've got a question for you. How do you think the first nation states came to be? Can you explain why you think that if we somehow managed to demolish them today, it would leave us in a different enough situation that they wouldn't just form again, with or without the consent of those who would be governed? Wouldn't it happen even more quickly, given the much larger wealth and power concentrated among fewer people?

Re:Bottom line... (3, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | about a month ago | (#47706613)

Spying serves a valuable purpose. It allows a country to ascertain whether another country's pols are lying or telling the truth. It can also help prevent surprise attacks, and it can help explain another country's behavior. We should want countries to spy on each other, then there are fewer secrets.

Nation states arose not because of mistrust, but from shared language, culture, and so on. Trust has almost nothing to do with it.

Re:Bottom line... (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707301)

loooool look at all the snowden amerians saying nononono spying is good as long as it's not on us!!! loooooooooooooooooool

No surprise here (4, Interesting)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a month ago | (#47705825)

Anyone who thought that Germany's protests over surveillance was anything other than hypocritical bullshit is an idiot. All countries spy on all other countries. They always have and they always will.

as usual... (2)

swschrad (312009) | about a month ago | (#47705869)

the guy who screams loudest about (insert issue here) is hiding their own little sin pad of the same.

Re:as usual... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706181)

Except they did it by accident, and as soon as they realised who they were spying on, deleted the calls.

As opposed to a deliberate and targeted surveillance effort by US intelligence to spy on the German Chancellor.

Re:as usual... (1)

kaatochacha (651922) | about a month ago | (#47707453)

"yes, yes, we did it on Accident, yes sir! And, believe you me, once we knew what we'd recorded, we recoiled in horror, deleted the calls,and burned the devices they were recorded on! Plus, we vow NEVER to do it again!".

You're a glutton for punishment, aren't you?

um (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707763)

If they say it was not intentional then we must accept that, right? A small reminder from Senate Hearing, March 2013:

Senator Wyden: "And this is for you, Director Clapper ... Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

Director Clapper: "No, sir."

Wyden: "It does not?"

Clapper: "Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently perhaps collect, but not wittingly."

Big government is ALWAYS dangerous to individuals and their liberty because it is a huge concentration of power in the hands of a relative few people who are just as imperfect, temptable, and corruptable as the people they seek to rule. When big government seems safe, it is generally because the population is unaware of what it is up to. That same total power, in the hands of the citizens themselves, is less dangerous because it is more diffuse.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706217)

Anyone who thought that Germany's protests over surveillance was anything other than hypocritical bullshit is an idiot.

As a German I would love to get rid of all the politicians involved, how does that make me a hypocrite?

Note that the politicians aren't hypocritical either, anyone observing Merkel reactions and just who she send to "resolve" the issue was aware from day one that she didn't care about privacy and was more interested getting into the hot STASI action shes been missing out of for 3 decades.

  Note there are lawsuits over the German government overreaching in its spy program and its Bundestrojaner (which is now fully conform to the law - for reals, we swear - not) every other year. The assholes on top are the same everywhere, that we have them in Germany only means that we hate them more for it.

Sadly the alternatives are soul less sellouts (FDP - for only x million we will support tourism in your region), stone age espies ( B90 Die Gruenen - we are for renewable energy and would like to get rid of everything else without having a migration plan first), outright communists ( Die Linke ), outright Nazies ( whatever the current NPD ), the party that sold newly planed gas lines to Russia ( SPD - Gerhard Schroeder, a good friend Putins retired to GAZPROM ), the list goes on.

Re:No surprise here (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707321)

what are espies? in the US they are an awards show for sports tv.

Re:No surprise here (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about a month ago | (#47706327)

Anyone who thought that Germany's protests over surveillance was anything other than hypocritical bullshit is an idiot. All countries spy on all other countries. They always have and they always will.

True, and in general it was dealt with in a low key manner with the occasional low level diplomat getting expelled and then a bit of tit for tat. Both sides knew the game and had no desire to escalate the situation.

With the germans, I'd guess domestic political considerations necessitated a stronger response, spiced with a bit of schadenfreude, while at the same time the very same politicians were thinking, "Mein Gott I hope we don't get caught as well."

Re:No surprise here (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a month ago | (#47706383)

Exactly,
There is a lot of internet tout that Europeans somehow do things that much better then the US, is actually a lot of BS. They just have a different set of problems that the US does.

Germany probably just made the biggest fuss about it, just because they could, and distract their public from their own problems. We do the same in the US.

Re:No surprise here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706431)

Except they were not targeting the US...

Re:No surprise here (1)

Frobnicator (565869) | about a month ago | (#47706595)

Yes, countries spy on other countries. All of their hands are dirty to some extent.

The difference is the method and extent of targeting. As a wartime example, it is the difference between a sniper rifle vs Agent Orange.

There are various 'socially acceptable' levels of international espionage. Military groups are going to spy on other military groups, sure. Installing listening devices inside embassies, I understand that. Under international law it is well regarded that those INDIVIDUALS who engage in an activity against another party can be subject to similar activities by other nations. That is, government spying on government is okay. Government spying on citizenry is NOT okay.

The Geneva Convention implemented and now all nations are bound to treat non-combatant civilians as 'protected persons'. While they might be affected by actions, they are unlawful targets and violators are considered international war criminals. Those same protections should apply even during times of peace and apply to espionage, but unfortunately they don't.

"Ethical espionage" is not a contradiction in terms. Just as in traditional warfare the common citizenry are protected and are illegal targets, so to should they be off limits to espionage. The "Just War" doctrine, which currently includes details like only attacking war-related targets, ethical treatment of prisoners, post-war reconstruction and recovery for the citizens, should apply just as well to espionage.

Re:No surprise here (1)

gtall (79522) | about a month ago | (#47706635)

On the other hand, you are assuming the parts of Germany's gov. that were "shocked" by U.S. spying even knew about their own. They may not have been hypocritical at all. Similar things happen to the U.S. government. Some agency does something and immediately the other side assumes a conspiracy. Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of it. It is sort ingrained in human nature to "connect the dots". The same silliness occurs with the WTC "truthers".

NSA Tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705845)

Why the NSA Tag?

Re:NSA Tag? (2)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a month ago | (#47706185)

ob. Joker:

"Spy on entire nations and nobody bats an eye - spy on a few government officials, and suddenly everybody loses their shit."

Germany not responsible for call recordings (5, Informative)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about a month ago | (#47705853)

The Speigel article states that the person responsible for making the call recordings of Clinton/Kerry and Kofi Annan was the same person the BND now believes to be a double-agent working for the US. The headline here makes it seem like the German government ordered the BND to do it, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705971)

The Speigel article states that the person responsible for making the call recordings of Clinton/Kerry and Kofi Annan was the same person the BND now believes to be a double-agent working for the US. The headline here makes it seem like the German government ordered the BND to do it, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

That's some pretty tortured logical contortions you're putting us all through.

Why WOULDN'T Germany target Turkey? Hell, Turkey openly supports "we've never seen a cease fire we can't break in 90 minutes" Hamas in their quest to eradicate Israel AND overthrow the Palestinian Authority.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706281)

Throwing their guy under the bus ("US double agent") seems fishy as well. A little too convenient.

But yeah, mod up the shit out of Joe Gillian's uncorroborated Speigel stuff because everything in the universe is less evil than USA!!!1

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707733)

They did indeed intentionally spy on Turkey, for the exact reasons you mentioned and probably more.
They did not intentionally spy on Kerry, Clinton and Kofi Annan - that happened accidentally when they happened to be in Turkey, and the calls were immediately deleted. That's the difference between German spying and US spying - Germany spies on specific targets in countries they deem "dangerous" and deletes anything else they pick up along the way, the US spies on everyone, everywhere.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706001)

Right, take the spooks' word for it.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (5, Informative)

Yokaze (70883) | about a month ago | (#47706057)

Also the same article states that
* they were not targeting either officials, but the party they were happening to call.
* and were ordered to delete the records, as soon as the involved parties were identified.

Sounds not quite like hiring a double-agent from an allied secret service.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about a month ago | (#47706285)

Not quite. If you RTFA, the BND made the recordings and dutifully transcribed the calls. They got passed along to higher-ups, who once they realized who was talking ordered the transcripts be destroyed. The person believed to be a double-agent for the U.S. was responsible for destroying the transcripts, and didn't. So no, he's not responsible for making the call recording - that falls squarely in the BND's lap. He just didn't follow through on the BND's good faith effort not to spy on the U.S. (or to cover up their spying on the U.S. depending on how you want to spin it).

It does raise questions about the allegations that he's a U.S. agent though. Why would he be so keen to keep a transcript of a call between Clinton and Kofi Anon to send back to the U.S., knowing full well that the U.S. would already know everything about that call? The only explanations I can think of are that he wasn't a double-agent as Germany is claiming (or at least not a double-agent for the U.S.), or that he was a U.S. double-agent and included that transcript to implicate Germany in case the story ever blew (which would've been remarkably far-sighted).

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (2)

dave562 (969951) | about a month ago | (#47706563)

Or that the United States leverages multiple sources for the same information. Redundant systems and all of that.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706893)

If he was a double-agent, in the vein of your latter option, it could simply be he was informing the US that the Germans were tapping US officials' calls. I'm more of the vein that he wasn't a double-agent and was more a leaker upset over the hypocrisy of Germany's actions.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707447)

The transcript could have provided clues on how they were tapped which might have led to ways to detect or block it in the future.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707455)

maybe one US agency hired a double agent in a foreign country to report back on activities of another US agency!!! it's not that farfetched.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

hey! (33014) | about a month ago | (#47708209)

Or he may have spent years building up a tolerance to iocaine powder...

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about a month ago | (#47708345)

The ability to pass back that US calls where not at all secure or where collectable at times, places would have been a good task for any German working for the US with wider German security access.
The spin can be seen as to try and not ask why US communications where not secure...
The spin can be seen as to try and not mention too much about German issues with German staff working for the US.
Beyond that its just Germany collecting all as they where tasked to by the the UK and US gov since the end of ww2.
The only mystery is how many Germans work for the USA and at what levels within the wider German gov and mil.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706305)

The Speigel article states that the person responsible for making the call recordings of Clinton/Kerry and Kofi Annan was the same person the BND

Can we please type out the proper name for the Bundesnachrichtendienst? Is that so hard??

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

pslytely psycho (1699190) | about a month ago | (#47706865)

Budsinabongandchristisadentist....that wasn't too hard...

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706905)

Gesundheit.

Re:Germany not responsible for call recordings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706401)

The Speigel article states that the person responsible for making the call recordings of Clinton/Kerry and Kofi Annan was the same person the BND now believes to be a double-agent working for the US. The headline here makes it seem like the German government ordered the BND to do it, but it doesn't seem to be the case here.

False. Mod parent down:

"Following protocol, staff at BND headquarters prepared a several-page-long transcript of the conversation and passed it along to senior agency officials. They in turn ordered that the transcript be destroyed. Sources say that the document was not forwarded to Merkel's Chancellery.

But the person tasked with destroying the transcript was Markus R., an employee in the agency's Areas of Operations/Foreign Relations department, who also turns out to be the same man recently accused of serving as an agent for the Americans."

Murica the ugly (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705881)

Nice. The rats are eating each other. Usually they keep this kind of thing off the news, but after Germans ousted the CIA chief, Americans had to save face somehow, and here it is!

Murica the ugly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706179)

Which, of course, negates the impact of the story. Oh, wait... it doesn't.

When America needs to save face, we don't need interweb preteens to explain to us what's going on. This is a simple, stately, clearing of the air. Each side can now shut the hell up and get back to serious business.

Re:Murica the ugly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706297)

Achievement Unlockled: Jimmies Rustled.

*zoidberg dance*

Big problem is in-game spying... (2, Funny)

downright (1625607) | about a month ago | (#47705891)

The germans keep coming into World of Warcraft as your allies only to look at your gear then they suddenly stop aiding in the battle... They switch sides and use the intel against you... Worst of all they only play gnomes for maximum humiliation. Damn you German Gnomes! Damn You!

Oligarchy logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47705911)

So... rather than entertain the notion that such spying is simply wrong, the "right" solution is for all the bad actors to keep the issue amongst themselves, and thereby avoid accountability to or even awareness by their citizens.

In general are people so personally hypocritical that they don't completely reject this pseudo-ethics immediately, due to a perverse perceived "common cause" with this stance?

High Horse (1)

fsterman (519061) | about a month ago | (#47705949)

... 'It's a kind of delightful revelation given the fact that the Germans have been on their high horse.' Christian Whiton, a former ... State Department senior advisor

Yup, Germany stepped off their high-horse and dived right into our cesspool. But just because everyone is violating our fundamental civil liberties en-mass doesn't make it any less evil.

The only thing this tells us is what our threat model should have been from the start.

Re:High Horse (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706139)

Sorry, but spying on the government officials of a foreign nation is not a violation of whatever civil liberties you are imagining.

Why they get caught spying on allies, the Germans call it an "accident". When they spy on you, it really is an accident.

Here's a hint: They don't WANT to spy on you. You don't matter. You are so utterly insignificant you are considered a HINDRANCE when they get any information about you, because they could have been intercepting data on people that matter.

Re:High Horse (1)

Jiro (131519) | about a month ago | (#47706365)

They don't WANT to spy on you. You don't matter.

Spoken like a man who has never heard of the term "false positive".

If you don't matter, but they think you matter, they can make life hell for you.

Trust, but verify (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a month ago | (#47705957)

doveryai no proveryai

Re:Trust, but verify (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a month ago | (#47707297)

I love that phrase. "Say you trust, but don't trust."

Re:Trust, but verify (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707499)

I dont' like this proverb. I don't understand the different from this to "don't trust"

Re:Trust, but verify (1)

hey! (33014) | about a month ago | (#47708165)

I disagree. It means trust but don't rely entirely on trust when you have other means at your disposal.

Consider a business deal. You take the contract to your lawyer and he puts all kinds of CYA stuff that supposedly protects you against bad faith. But let me tell you: if the other guy is dealing in bad faith you're going to regret getting mixed up with him, even if you've got the best lawyer in the world working on the contract. So you should only do critical deals with parties you trust.

But if the deal is critical, you should still bring the lawyer in. Why? Because situtations change. Ownership and management change. Stuff can look different when stuff doesn't go the way everyone hoped. People can act differently under pressure. Other people working at the other company might not be as trustworthy as the folks sitting across the table from you. All kinds of reasons.

So you trust, but verify that the other party can't stab you in the back, because neither method is 100% effective. It's common sense in business, and people usually don't take it personally. When they *do*, then that's kind of fishy in my opinion.

Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706011)

And you can bet the info on that came from some agency in the States that is sick and tired of Germany playing the victim. A little bit of screaming and political ballyhooing over something like this is expected, but they've ridden it for way too long... time wean them with a little sour milk.

Ground rule misunderstanding (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706053)

The fundamental rule of spying is not that gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail.

It's that you are not supposed to get caught doing it.

It's a sad state of affairs when two supposedly first rate intel agencies get caught.

Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (4, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about a month ago | (#47706127)

'Spying among friends is not at all acceptable,' Merkel said

And I doubt very much Turkey is a true friend of Germany: it's a economical, immigration and to a certain extent, religious threat to Germany - or at least perceived as such by a sizeable part of the German population. It's also a liability, as it's capable of singlehandedly dragging Germany into the huge Iraqi and middle-eastern quagmire if it starts to get involved and calls on NATO members to provide help.

Turkey just happens to be a member of NATO like Germany, is all. That doesn't make the two friends.

Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706251)

No true Scotsman? That's convenient. By that logic, Germany is probably not a true friend of the US, given its history of dragging us and others into wars, its recent Soviet connections, and the fact that they were just caught spying on us. So, hey, let's all be frenemies, right?

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about a month ago | (#47706319)

By that logic, Germany is probably not a true friend of the US

Hardly any state is a true friend of the US these days - apart perhaps the UK, and even that is far from certain.

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706497)

The UK has never been our ally, and certainly isn't now.

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (1)

neoritter (3021561) | about a month ago | (#47706971)

Eh the US, France, and UK have always had this kind of circle jerk friendly rivalry.

US revolts against the UK, France helps. US helps France and UK economically during Napoleonic wars. UK steals our ships, US declares war. US has a civil war, France and UK help the seccessionists, France even tries to get Mexico to invade. It's all good fun!

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707085)

"America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests."

as made famous by Kissinger.

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706647)

Yet that doesn't work for the US by her standards.

Germany and the US are not friends either. They are allies when their interests align, and they are not when they do not. Currently our interests align.

There are no friends in geo-politics. Only national interests.

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (4, Interesting)

gtall (79522) | about a month ago | (#47706665)

Yep, after Western sanctions on Putin's Russia, Turkey recently announced they were going to make trade deals with Russia to make up for what the sanctions were stopping.

I think in the past, Turkey was a real member of NATO. Now, they are not really and Erdogan is creating another theocracy. In 10 years, there will be no democracy left in Turkey and no reason to keep Turkey in NATO.

Re:Merkel wasn't two-faced about spying on friends (2)

mbkennel (97636) | about a month ago | (#47707035)


Did Ergodan suddently think "Oh maybe Russia was right about Assad & Syria after all?"?

Yes, Turkey was a very reliable ally until Ergodan's Islamism. Ataturk was right all along.

Yea, So what? (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about a month ago | (#47706147)

The Germans spy on the United States and other NATO countries?

Yea, so?

If Kerry is dumb enough to have sensitive conversations in ways others can monitor, then the Germans need to listen. Even as a USA citizen, it matters not to me. Please, listen in. Just don't cry crocodile tears when we listen to you.

What bothers me about all this is that it's being talked about in public. Everybody used to just accept this and quietly go about their business. Now it's policy to rake your friends over the PR coals for something you already knew was going on? That is seriously troubling to me. Just go encrypted if you don't want the other guy to know what you are "really" thinking. Why all the complaining?

Turkey, ha! (1)

schlachter (862210) | about a month ago | (#47706157)

Turkey is a terrorist country...supporting Hamas and other violent Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, preaching a hatred against Jews and others not seen by most other "westernized" countries. Not to mention they have been bombing their own people as well as northern Iraq for years now. They are Europe and the USA's enemy in sheep's clothing.

Re:Turkey, ha! (4, Interesting)

swb (14022) | about a month ago | (#47706553)

Your explanation is extreme, but Turkey is very much a wild card in the current scheme of things.

Erdogan's Islamist politics alone make Western powers nervous after years of dependable pro-Western/anti-Islamist governments, enforced as needed by the Turkish military.

Throw in Turkey's desire to play a leadership role in the Middle East coupled with the fact that what we call "the Middle East" was basically territory of the Ottoman Empire through about the end of the 19th century and it's not hard to see the guys who move around chess pieces on maps get a little curious as to what's happening there.

Re:Turkey, ha! (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about a month ago | (#47707529)

if I recall, the ottoman empire was named such after Neil Ottoman, who was the emir of Constantinople.

tables turned (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about a month ago | (#47706159)

Do Germans eat crow with bratwurst?

Explains how Merkel was very calm (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47706329)

...when it became known that the US were bugging her phone. Probably her reaction was "What's the hubbub, it's not like we don't...".

Re:Explains how Merkel was very calm (1)

slew (2918) | about a month ago | (#47706963)

...when it became known that the US were bugging her phone. Probably her reaction was "What's the hubbub, it's not like we don't...".

Of course when things like this become public, you have to make a good show, though...
Feigning outrage and going viral. Isn't that what the modern internet is all about?

Ambrose Bierce said it best: (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a month ago | (#47706505)

Alliance, n.:
In international politics, the union of two thieves who have
their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pocket that
they cannot separately plunder a third.
-- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

Re:Ambrose Bierce said it best: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47706639)

ok good one, but i think it could have been said better, something like "...that they cannot separately plunder a third without coordinating their efforts"

Transparent government is needed. (1)

frup (998325) | about a month ago | (#47707019)

Government is for the people, not to control. Transparent government is needed and then spying would be unnecessary. Only murderers have secrets. Nothing about the administration of a country should be hidden.

Everyone spies on everyone... (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a month ago | (#47707033)

... and always has.

What makes the NSA revelations unacceptable is not what they're doing but how well they're doing it and how insidious they are at it.

THAT is the issue. Not that they're doing it. EVERYONE IS DOING IT.

The NSA is just really good at it.

Which actually means that what we should be doing is upgrading network security and generally being a good deal more paranoid about how we connect things. I have no interest in telling the NSA what they can and cannot do. For one thing they'll just lie to me if they find my restrictions inconvenient. They see that as their job in fact.

What we need to do is upgrade security. Then the NSA can do whatever they want and it simply won't be worth their time to collect data on people that are not actually threats.

Re:Everyone spies on everyone... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707319)

THAT is the issue. Not that they're doing it. EVERYONE IS DOING IT.

And also that they are doing it. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it OK.

What we need to do is upgrade security. Then the NSA can do whatever they want and it simply won't be worth their time to collect data on people that are not actually threats.

I agree with you that we should focus more time and effort on security, but disagree with your other statement. What we need to do is actually hold the NSA (and the government as a whole) to the law and they simply won't be able to do it to begin with.

Re:Everyone spies on everyone... (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a month ago | (#47707711)

Actually, yes it does make it okay. Your aphorism refers to situations where people might not do it if it were not seen as acceptable.

This is not the case. Spying will happen. Nations will do it. They always have. They always will. Just as they will always make war. They will always play political games. There will always be taxes. And I am sorry to say we will all die.

Now, that doesn't mean I am accepting the status quo. This spying typically doesn't involve normal people like you. That is new. I would suggest we find ways to make it impractical for the spies to involve us in their games so they must instead focus on their actual job.

That is as good as it is going to get in this world.

As to holding the NSA to the law... you have no means to actually do that sans some sort of auditing agency which will either have to be as good at knowing what the NSA is is actually doing as the NSA is at hiding what it is doing.That is unlikely. What is more, your best method of actually doing that would be crippling the NSA so badly that they're incompetent. And that then endangers the US and the free world as a whole because the Chinese, Russians, etc will not stop spying simply because you've knee capped the NSA.

This is where these discussions become unproductive. You have some civil rights points which I agree with but you have to acknowledge the security, military, political, economic, and geo political realities here your argument has no place in this discussion. I do not mean that as a slight or as an attempt to invalidate your opinion. I am saying your argument must encompass these issues as well or we are not talking about the same thing.

Your civil rights point isn't big enough. Take a couple steps back and incorporate the other issues into the whole. I am not your enemy here. I just am highly dubious of claims we don't need to guard the city walls when we have a long history of barbarians climbing over them.

Now the waiting is .... (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about a month ago | (#47707559)

...on the revelation that Turkey spies on Germany and others.
And --particularly-- the precious toned-down reaction. Such as is displayed now, all of a sudden.
Go Turks -- GO!

Don't be naive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a month ago | (#47707807)

Don't be naive. Everyone spies on everyone else, to the extent possible.

Don't know why, but... (1)

ctrl-alt-canc (977108) | about a month ago | (#47707967)

...I find the concept of "German intelligence" an oxymoron.

and Kofi Annan (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about a month ago | (#47708329)

One for me too, thanks Annan.
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