On November 7th, Brazil and Germany jointly proposed a preliminary version of a resolution on online privacy at the UN General Assembly. At a time when public outrage over the reach and scope of U.K. and U.S. mass surveillance is at an all time high, the draft resolution is the first official recognition by the UN of the threat that mass surveillance poses to human rights. The draft resolution is significant in many respects but particularly because it condemns “human rights violations and abuses that may result from the conduct of any surveillance of communications, including extraterritorial surveillance of communications… in particular massive surveillance.”
The draft resolution calls upon all states:
- To end privacy violations and prevent further privacy incursions and ensure that national laws, practices and procedures conform to existing international human rights obligations,
- To establish independent national oversight mechanisms capable of maintaining transparency and accountability for state surveillance of communications,
- Requests the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to submit a report to the General Assembly on the protection of the right to privacy.
If adopted, this will be the first General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy since 1988. This represents an excellent opportunity for states to update their understanding of international human rights law in the context of the massive technological developments that have taken place over the last 25 years.
While introducing the draft resolution, the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations New York drew attention to the 24th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council (HRC) side event organized last September by Germany and Norway. During this meeting, member states engaged in a robust debate of online surveillance. EFF, Privacy International, Human Rights Watch, Access, APC, Article 19 and a coalition of 290 NGOs presented formally the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance, a set of principles that provide States with a framework to evaluate whether current or proposed surveillance laws and practices are consistent with human rights. These principles have been cited in the new Mexican telecom reform bill, in op-eds and editorials in different countries, refered by policy makers in Sweden and the United Kingdom, and translated in more than 31 languages. During the 24th HRC, we also submitted an official statement calling on states to ensure that advances in technology do not lead to disproportionate increases in states’ interference with the private lives of individuals.
A few weeks earlier, during the opening of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, made clear the indignation and repudiation in public opinion around the world regarding the revelations of a global network of electronic espionage:
“In Brazil, the situation was even more serious, as it emerged that we were targeted by this intrusion. Personal data of citizens was intercepted indiscriminately. Corporate information – often of high economic and even strategic value – was at the center of espionage activity. Also, Brazilian diplomatic missions, among them the Permanent Mission to the United Nations and the Office of the President of the Republic itself, had their communications intercepted.”
We hope that member states join Brazil and Germany in explicitly condemning mass surveillance by supporting the draft resolution as is currently written, and stay vigilant against watering-down of the text by countries who would continue their ubiquitous spying. Now is the time for all concerned citizens to call upon their governments to conform to the principles signed by 290 NGOs. If your organization hasn’t signed it yet, it can do so here. It’s time to defend the Necessary and Proportionate Principles at the United Nations, and in every other regional or national policy space.
British intelligence agency GCHQ has helped counterpart entities in France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden develop methods of mass surveillance of internet and phone traffic in the last five years, a new report reveals.
Documents supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden to the Guardian show the UK Government Communications Headquarters’ (GCHQ) enormous influence throughout Europe. The documents detail how the agency developed and promoted spying processes, built relationships with telecommunication companies, and evaded national laws that constrain the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies.
In the wake of outrage expressed over the past week across Europe regarding newly exposed NSA surveillance of European countries – including intercepted communications and the monitoring of phones belonging to officials such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel – documents released Friday by the Guardian show major European countries’ culpability in mass surveillance efforts shepherded by the GCHQ.
The GCHQ is part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence-sharing partnership between Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States.
US intelligence officials said the monitoring that received so much indignation from powers like Germany and France was carried out by those countries’ own intelligence agencies and later shared with the US.
In June, the Guardian revealed the GCHQ’s Tempora program, in which the agency tapped into transatlantic fiber-optic cables to execute bulk surveillance. Germany’s justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, said at the time that the program sounded “like a Hollywood nightmare” and warned that free societies and actions hidden under “a veil of secrecy” are not compatible.
A nation-by-nation scorecard
In a 2008 survey of European partners, the GCHQ marveled at Germany’s capabilities to produce Tempora-like surveillance. The British service said the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) had “huge technological potential and good access to the heart of the internet – they are already seeing some bearers running at 40Gbps and 100Gbps.” The term ‘bearers’ refers to the fiber-optic cables. Gigabits per second (Gbps) measures the speed at which data runs through them.
The documents also show the British were advising German counterparts on how to change or evade laws that restricted advanced surveillance efforts. “We have been assisting the BND (along with SIS [Secret Intelligence Service] and Security Service) in making the case for reform or reinterpretation of the very restrictive interception legislation in Germany,” the survey says.
The report also lauds the GCHQ’s French partner, the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), especially for its cozy relationship with an unnamed telecommunications company.
“DGSE are a highly motivated, technically competent partner, who have shown great willingness to engage on IP [internet protocol] issues, and to work with GCHQ on a ‘cooperate and share’ basis.”
The GCHQ expressed desire to benefit from the DGSE’s relationship with the company.
“We have made contact with the DGSE’s main industry partner, who has some innovative approaches to some internet challenges, raising the potential for GCHQ to make use of this company in the protocol development arena.”
The GCHQ’s work with its French counterpart led to improved capabilities to carry out bulk surveillance, despite growing commercial emphasis on encryption.
“Very friendly crypt meeting with DGSE in July,” British officials said. French intelligence officials were “clearly very keen to provide presentations on their work which included cipher detection in high-speed bearers. [GCHQ's] challenge is to ensure that we have enough UK capability to support a longer term crypt relationship.”
New opportunities in future partnerships
GCHQ ties to Spain’s intelligence service, the National Intelligence Centre (CNI), were bolstered by Spain’s connections to an unnamed British telecom company, giving them “fresh opportunities and uncovering some surprising results.
“GCHQ has not yet engaged with CNI formally on IP exploitation, but the CNI have been making great strides through their relationship with a UK commercial partner. GCHQ and the commercial partner have been able to coordinate their approach. The commercial partner has provided the CNI some equipment whilst keeping us informed, enabling us to invite the CNI across for IP-focused discussions this autumn,” the survey said. It reported that the GCHQ “have found a very capable counterpart in CNI, particularly in the field of Covert Internet Ops.”
When Sweden passed a 2008 law allowing its National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA) to execute Tempora-like surveillance via fiber-optic cables, the GCHQ said in the report that “FRA have obtained a…probe to use as a test-bed and we expect them to make rapid progress in IP exploitation following the law change.” The GCHQ went on to express delight in future partnerships with FRA after the law passed.
The survey found strong ties between the GCHQ and Dutch external and internal intelligence services MIVD and AIVD, respectively.
“Both agencies are small, by UK standards, but are technically competent and highly motivated,” British officials said.
The GCHQ also helped AIVD in handling legal constraints to spying.
“The Dutch have some legislative issues that they need to work through before their legal environment would allow them to operate in the way that GCHQ does. We are providing legal advice on how we have tackled some of these issues to Dutch lawyers.”
Contrary to the other nations’ positive marks, the GCHQ country-by-country scorecard shows Italy’s intelligence agencies to be riddled with internal strife.
“GCHQ has had some CT [counter-terrorism] and internet-focused discussions with both the foreign intelligence agency (AISE) and the security service (AISI), but has found the Italian intelligence community to be fractured and unable/unwilling to cooperate with one another,” the report said.
A follow-up six months later noted the GCHQ still saw legal constraints in Italy as hampering AISI’s ability to cooperate.
This latest disclosure calls into question how involved the countries were in the overall surveillance of global citizens and world leaders led by the NSA and GCHQ.
An anti-spying draft resolution written by Germany and Brazil has been submitted to the United Nations amid the US surveillance scandal.
The draft resolution put forward on Friday would reaffirm “the right to privacy and not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence.”
The right is already protected in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Furthermore, the draft resolution would also reaffirm the “same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular the right to privacy, including in the context of the surveillance of communications.”
The draft was to be processed by the UN secretariat before being handed over to the UN General Assembly’s human rights panel for discussions.
This comes as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff have both condemned the widespread spying by the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Merkel has demanded the United States enter a “no-spying” agreement with Germany and France by the end of 2013 amid recent revelations that the NSA spied on the two countries.
The Chancellor has also stressed that alleged espionage against Berlin and Paris, which are considered among closest allies of the US, should be stopped.
On October 26, a report published by German weekly Der Spiegel revealed that Merkel’s mobile phone had been listed by the NSA Special Collection Service (SCS) since 2002, and that her mobile phone number was still listed in June 2013.
Last month, Rousseff spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, calling for international regulations on data privacy and limiting espionage programs targeting the Internet.
Rousseff’s appeal came after reports were published in September by Brazil’s Globo television network, which revealed that the NSA spied on the president’s emails, phone calls, and text messages.
Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden has met with a German MP in Moscow. He passed a letter addressed to the German government and federal public prosecutor where he allegedly said he is ready to testify over Washington’s probable wiretapping of Merkel’s phone.
During the meeting, Snowden made it “clear that he knows a lot,” Greens lawmaker Hans-Christian Stroebele told ARD channel.
“He expressed his principle readiness to help clarify the situation. Basis for this is what we must create. That’s what we discussed for a long time and from all angles,” the MP said. “He is essentially prepared to come to Germany and give testimony, but the conditions must be discussed.”
Stroebele, 74, is a member of the German parliament’s control committee which is responsible for monitoring the work of intelligence agencies.
Snowden wouldn’t be able to travel to Germany to give evidence, as that would effectively see his refugee status lifted. If that were to happen, it would be possible for him to be extradited to the US, Interfax news agency quoted an unknown source as saying.
“At the same time, the German General Prosecutor’s Office could in principle send its representatives to Russia or pass its written questions on to Edward Snowden,” the same source said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has dispatched the country’s top foreign affairs and intelligence advisers to Washington this week to further investigate the allegations that her cell phone was tapped by the NSA, the report which caused fierce outrage in Germany.
The scandal initially broke when journalists working with Snowden’s leaked documents contacted the German government for clarification. German politicians subsequently suggested involving Snowden as a witness in the wiretapping case.
The German Federal Prosecutor’s Office may summon Snowden to be a witness in the case, German justice minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told Deutschlandfunk radio on Sunday.
“If our suspicions prove correct and a case is opened, the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office will have to consider the possibility of interrogating Snowden as a witness,” she said.
If Snowden were to come to Germany for the case, the EU country could breach US’ requests for extradition, the minister added.
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also said that the phone tapping is illegal and constitutes a crime, therefore those responsible should be held accountable.
A parliamentary session will be held on November 18 to discuss the phone tapping. The Greens, along with the far-left Die Linke party, previously asked for a public inquiry into the matter. They were the ones to call on witnesses, including Snowden.
In June, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who disclosed secret US surveillance programs, fled to Hong Kong and then to Russia.
President Vladimir Putin rejected US demands to extradite Snowden to face charges including espionage.
In early August, Snowden was granted temporary asylum, which can be extended annually.
The NSA has attacked key European institutions such as the EU parliament and banking system, using malware to find out all there is to know about other countries in a power game, Andy Mueller-Moguhn, founder of Buggedplannet.info, tells RT.
He says that in a world where so many communications go over the web we all have something to protect rather than something to hide, as proponents of mass surveillance often argue.
RT: No matter what precautions companies take or measures to protect the privacy of subscribers isn’t the agency [NSA] capable of bypassing all these routes?
Andy Mueller-Moguhn: I would say it like this; unfortunately in Germany we have a situation that the trustworthiness or our foreign and interior intelligence service watching their high level of cooperation with the NSA and GCHQ does not make them trustworthy at all. If they can intercept the stuff, they might hand it over in a bargain to the Americans, which is not helpful.
So this means that what is to be done, is to ensure on whatever level in whatever country that encryption for the end user is becoming available like easy to use and as a standard tool, because you send your postal letters in an envelope so should you do with your emails.
RT: Let’s look at the situation from both sides. On the one hand we have the privacy of citizens that has of course to be respected, but on the other hand there are some companies who are fighting hard to protect their privacy. Doesn’t that give us a cause for concern, that they have something to hide, some skeletons in the closet as they say?
AMM: The point is that we have seen that installations of the United States National Security Agency, attacking also carriers in Europe, as we’ve seen with things that have nothing to do with terrorism or with fighting terrorism. They have a lot to do with power games or with knowing everything about other countries, about business, about embassies, about other country’s governments as we also see with the Brazilian presidential interception.
So obviously the thing that you have nothing to hide is totally wrong in the case that everybody has something to protect and in the days where everything, cultural, economic, political, things go over the internet and advance knowledge of a political decision, which can have for example an impact on stock rates, on currencies, on country’s reputations and so on. This is worth a lot of money and we have not really come to the bottom, we have seen a big part of this NSA approach, we have seen a lot of money, a lot of effort internationally to intercept all communications, but we have not yet come to the question, who is the customer, in the sense who are the guys ordering this, getting the product and using that.
That it is still a very interesting question where we come to monetary, political and other influences being taken with blackmailing, with greymailing, with advanced knowledge about what other people think, act and do.
RT: You mentioned an interesting point here saying that it’s not the point whether we have something to hide, but it’s what we have to protect. In that case what’s your take on the role of America as a global policeman? Does it have any moral authority to conduct global surveillance?
AMM: The point is that we have seen attacks, not passive interception but buggedplannet.info was subject to an attack in the sense that there was malware installed in the system, there were exploits used, the NSA literally took control over the network. This cannot be excused with fighting terrorism at all. This obviously was targeting the European parliament, it was targeting the European airspace control, it was targeting the SWIFT network or the banking network, so obviously there is no moral excuse here in terms of this being to do with fighting terrorism or ensuring security. This is about the global interest of the United States against other European and other peaceful acting countries and democratic organized entities.
Obama Administration Forbids NSA-Critical Novelist Entry to USA
On September 30th, as he was about to fly from Brazil to Denver, Colorado, where he had been invited to attend and address a German Studies conference, the German novelist Ilija Trojanow (pronounced “llya Troyanov”) was informed that he would not be allowed to board the flight on which he was booked.
He was told, after some 45 minutes of waiting while his passport and various computer screens were examined, that his case was “special” and that no further explanation was available. To this date, none has been offered.
But the explanation was and is obvious to anyone aware of Mr. Trojanow’s recent political history, in the context of the Obama administration’s increasingly jaundiced and vehement campaign against whistleblowers and critics of its surveillance-state apparatus. Despite the President’s absurdly facile talk of “welcoming the debate” on NSA data-gobbling and Orwellian tactics, the war on internet freedom is reaching a new high point. The US government is determined to achieve full access to all digital data, and has no intention of compromising with its critics, of which internationally known intellectuals appear to represent a particularly worrisome species.
Asked how the scholars at the conference in Denver had reacted to the government’s action in blocking his entry, Trojanow said that they were “…enormously angry. A great deal of prepared work was carried out in vain. Now they want to write an open letter. It is, obviously, ironic that this should happen in connection with – of all things — an event that was intended to bring the USA and Germany together. The theme of the seminar was ‘transnationalism’”.
Less than two weeks earlier, on September 18th, an open letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel accompanied by the signatures of 67,000 supporters — including a number of prominent literary and legal figures – had been delivered to the Chancellery in Berlin by Trojanow’s friend and fellow novelist Juli Zeh, its initiator. One of the first signatures was Trojanow’s. The two are co-authors of the book “Angriff auf die Freiheit” (“Freedom Under Attack”), published in 2010 by DTV Deutscher Taschenbuch, the subtitle of which translates to “Security Madness, Surveillance State and the Dismantling of Civil Rights.” Three years before the Snowden revelations, Mr. Trojanow, a native Bulgarian whose family fled political persecution there in the dark ages of Eastern Bloc state repression, had become a prominent critic of policies in the West that had an all-too-familiar smell. The Snowden documents and emerging NSA scandal now brought new urgency to this work.
The German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union, who as opposition leader during the Social Democratic/Green Party coalition government,and later as Chancellor, had given George W. Bush uncritical support for his Iraq policies among many others, was staying true to form in the face of Snowden’s assertion that Germany’s intelligence services were deeply involved in the surveillance scandal. After weeks of evasion and “salami” tactics by which admissions regarding the Snowden charges were made piecemeal once they could no longer be denied; after a highly-publicized trip to Washington by her Interior Minister (analogous to Minister of Homeland Security in the USA), who was photographed at the table with top American intelligence officials, and returned to assure Germans that the US took the issue very seriously and had guaranteed him that no German laws were being broken; after an appearance by Merkel’s Minister of the Chancellery before a special investigative committee to which he had been summoned by an outraged opposition in the German Bundestag (an appearance generally assessed to have been characterized by flippant and insubstantial responses to penetrating questions regarding German complicity alleged by Snowden); after a press conference in which the Chancellor blithely declared that she “preferred to wait and see” what the truth about the allegations might be; and after declaring in a vaguely irritated tone in a TV debate with her Social Democratic challenger in the eminent election – on almost the same day that the letter and petition were presented in Berlin — that she “had no reason to mistrust the NSA,” Merkel was comfortably reelected on September 22nd despite the fact that more than two-thirds of Germans had been polled as being unsatisfied with the government’s response to the scandal. While the conservatives in Berlin and the Obama administration may have breathed a sigh of relief, someone in Washington was apparently not yet ready to forget about Trojanow’s work in the actions which had produced the following document (translated from the original German for Mr. Trojanow by myself):
Honored Madame Chancellor,
Since Edward Snowden made public the existence of the PRISM program, the media have turned their attention to the biggest wiretapping scandal in modern German history. We citizens have, through published reports, become aware that foreign intelligence services — even in the absence of any concrete grounds for suspicion – skim and record our telephone and electronic communications. Through the storage and evaluation of metadata, our contacts, friendships and relationships are apprehended. Our political positions, our “movement profiles” and, in fact, even our daily moods and emotional status are transparent to the security authorities. The “transparent man” has thus become reality.
We have no defenses. There is no means of redress or airing of grievances, no opportunity for access to the files. While our private lives are made transparent, the secret services assert a right to a maximum of opacity regarding their methods. In other words: we are experiencing an historic attack upon our democratic rule of law, namely, the reversal of the principle of a “presumption of innocence” into a millionfold general suspicion.
Madame Chancellor, you stated in your summer press conference that Germany is “not a surveillance state.” Since the Snowden revelations, however, we have no choice but to say: unfortunately, it is. In the same connection you summarized your approach to the investigation of the PRISM affair with the apt phrase: “I prefer to wait and see what happens.”
But we do not wish to wait. It is increasingly difficult to avoid the impression that this behavior by the American and British intelligence services is tacitly accepted by the German government. For that reason we ask you: is it politically desirable that the NSA conducts surveillance of German citizens in a manner that is forbidden to the German authorities by the constitution and the German Federal Constitutional (Supreme) Court? Do the German intelligence services profit from information received from the US authorities, and is that the reason for your hesitant reaction? How can it be justified that the BND (“Bundesnachrichtendienst”, federal intelligence authority) and the Verfassungsschutz (“Constitutional Protection”, federal domestic intelligence agency) deploy the NSA spy-program XKeyScore, for which there is no legal basis, in the surveillance of search engines? Is the German Federal Government in the process of taking a detour around the rule of law, instead of defending it?
We call upon you to tell the people of this nation the full truth about the electronic spying. And we want to know what the federal government proposes to do against it. You are charged by the constitution with protecting Germany’s citizens from harm. Madame Chancellor, what is your strategy?
/ Juli Zeh / Ilija Trojanow / Carolin Emcke / Friedrich von Borries /Moritz Rinke / Eva Menasse / Tanja Dückers / Norbert Niemann / Sherko Fatah / Angelina Maccarone / Michael Kumpfmüller / Tilman Spengler / Steffen Kopetzky / Sten Nadolny / Markus Orths / Sasa Stanisic / Micha Brumlik / Josef Haslinger / Simon Urban / Kristof Magnusson / Andres Veiel / Feridun Zaimoglu / Ingo Schulze / Falk Richter / Hilal Sezgin / Georg Oswald
(Translation from the German original: Gregory Barrett)
Trojanow was awarded the 2006 Prize of the Leipzig Book Fair for his adventure novel “Der Weltensammler” (“The Collector of Worlds”). He delivered the laudatory speech for the Nobel Prizewinner Herta Müller at the ceremony marking her acceptance of the Franz Werfel Human Rights Prize. In Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, he had been a guest writer at the invitation of the Goethe Institute. On October 5th he was to speak at the conference of the German Studies Association in Denver about his most recent novel “EisTau” (“Ice Thaw”). Ms. Zeh is best known to the German-speaking public as the author of several novels including “Adler und Engel” (“Eagles and Angels”), which has been translated into 31 languages, and “Nullzeit” (“Zero Hour” or “Out of Time”), but also holds impressive law degrees and has worked at the United Nations. The forum afforded the two highly-respected intellectuals in various media, from the powerful news magazine “Der Spiegel,” to the national public radio network Deutschlandradio, to popular national television talk shows may well be making the Merkel government nervous about the possibility that the surveillance issue — which had appeared to be fading in the public consciousness as the Chancellor and her allies had hoped — could still catch fire with the help of the continued revelations being parceled out by Snowden, Glenn Greenwald and a growing network. Such coverage has given the German writers’ campaign a visibility seldom granted to the usual suspects on the German left.
Appeals to the German government for mediation and clarity following the US refusal to allow Mr. Trojanow’s entry into the land of the free have, predictably, been without success at this writing. The novelist himself immediately applied for a new US visa and is determined to elicit a clear statement about the grounds for the ban.
Meanwhile, Trojanow and Zeh are working on a new international appeal, with which they hope to generate broad-based resistance to the massive destruction of civil- and privacy rights worldwide represented by the NSA’s new technological might. There are links already in place to the London-based group “Index on Censorship” and many other groups including Amnesty International, Liberty, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Russian PEN Center. The German writer-activists hope to bring more Americans into their network as well. The signs may be auspicious, too, for legislative activity at the European level: in late September a 36-page report prepared for the European Union stated that “…Prism seems to have allowed an unprecedented scale and depth in intelligence gathering, which goes beyond counter-terrorism and beyond espionage activities carried out by liberal regimes in the past. This may lead towards an illegal form of total information awareness where data of millions of people are subject to collection and manipulation by the NSA.” It went on to point out that “…there are no privacy rights for non-Americans under Prism and related programmes” and that the US probably places “no limitations on exploiting or intruding a non-US person’s privacy.” However, those of us who have watched for many years as the European Parliament and EU Commission have taken one principled position after another against US policies, only to buckle later under pressure, are under no illusion that things will be much different this time. The stark contrast between the Merkel government’s initial protestations of concern over PRISM and other NSA programs for public consumption, and its subsequent low-to-no profile on the issue, demonstrates that below the surface, the European interest in maintaining its often obsequious posture as regards its mighty ally will once again trump other concerns in the absence of a public outcry. Ilija Trojanow and his partners, however, hope to keep the urgency of the issue alive in the international political and literary spheres.
“It is more than ironic that an author who for years has been speaking out about the dangers of surveillance and the secret state within the state should be denied entry into the ‘land of the brave and the free,’ ” writes Trojanow. “No more than a minor, individual case, to be sure: but it’s indicative of the consequences of a disastrous development and it reveals the naivety of the attitude of many citizens who comfort themselves with the mantra, ‘But it’s got nothing to do with me’. That might still be the case – however, the net is tightening. For these citizens the secret services are still just a rumor, but in the not-so-distant future the knock on the door will be very real indeed.”
Gregory Barrett is a translator and musician living in Germany.
Germany’s largest telecom provider, Deutsche Telekom, is looking to introduce a “national routing” service which would keep German internet traffic out of the hands of foreign spies.
The former state-owned communications giant outlined the plans at a secret meeting in the Economy Ministry, business weekly Wirtschaftswoche reported.
Currently, email data is exchanged between users worldwide via international Internet exchange points; physical structures through which Internet service providers (ISPs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks.
The company hopes to hammer out an agreement with other national Internet providers which would guarantee that “while being transported from the sender to the receiver in Germany… no single byte leaves Germany,” Thomas Kremer, a board member of Telekom’s data privacy, legal affairs and compliance, told the magazine.
To put the plan into effect, Deutsche Telekom must secure the support of all its competitors, including Telefonica and Vodafone.
While Vodafone and Telefonica are currently mulling the initiative, another competitor – Internet service provider QSC – has questioned the efficacy of the plan, saying it was not possible to determine with certainty whether data is being routed nationally or internationally.
“In a next step, this initiative could be expanded to the Schengen area,” the spokesman said, referring to the group of 26 European countries – excluding Britain – that have removed border controls for participating countries.
Deutsche Telekom first began leading the charge for to protect its users’ privacy from foreign intelligence agencies in August when they rolled out ‘Email Made in Germany’, an encrypted email service that only uses German servers to process and store all domestic email traffic.
The move followed revelations that the US National Security Agency (NSA) collects 500 million pieces of phone and email metadata from Germany each month — more than in any other EU country.
“Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data,” said Rene Obermann, head of Deutsche Telekom.
“Now, they can bank on the fact that their personal data online is as secure as it possibly can be.”
Experts do not believe the move will stop governments from getting their hands on information, although it might complicate efforts to do so.
“Of course the NSA could still break in if they wanted to, but the mass encryption of emails would make it harder and more expensive for them to do so,” Sandro Gaycken, a professor of cyber security at Berlin’s Free University, said when the idea was first proposed.
- To Dodge US Spies, Germany Might Keep All Its Internet Traffic on Local Servers (motherboard.vice.com)
The Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow
The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.
At bases in Naples, Aviano, Sicily, Pisa, and Vicenza, among others, the military has spent more than $2 billion on construction alone since the end of the Cold War—and that figure doesn’t include billions more on classified construction projects and everyday operating and personnel costs. While the number of troops in Germany has fallen from 250,000 when the Soviet Union collapsed to about 50,000 today, the roughly 13,000 U.S. troops (plus 16,000 family members) stationed in Italy match the numbers at the height of the Cold War. That, in turn, means that the percentage of U.S. forces in Europe based in Italy has tripled since 1991 from around 5 percent to more than 15 percent.
Last month, I had a chance to visit the newest U.S. base in Italy, a three-month-old garrison in Vicenza, near Venice. Home to a rapid reaction intervention force, the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the Army’s component of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the base extends for a mile, north to south, dwarfing everything else in the small city. In fact, at over 145 acres, the base is almost exactly the size of Washington’s National Mall or the equivalent of around 110 American football fields. The price tag for the base and related construction in a city that already hosted at least six installations: upwards of $600 million since fiscal year 2007.
There are still more bases, and so more U.S. military spending, in Germany than in any other foreign country (save, until recently, Afghanistan). Nonetheless, Italy has grown increasingly important as the Pentagon works to change the make-up of its global collection of 800 or more bases abroad, generally shifting its basing focus south and east from Europe’s center. Base expert Alexander Cooley explains: “U.S. defense officials acknowledge that Italy’s strategic positioning on the Mediterranean and near North Africa, the Italian military’s anti-terrorism doctrine, as well as the country’s favorable political disposition toward U.S. forces are important factors in the Pentagon’s decision to retain” a large base and troop presence there. About the only people who have been paying attention to this build-up are the Italians in local opposition movements like those in Vicenza who are concerned that their city will become a platform for future U.S. wars.
Most tourists think of Italy as the land of Renaissance art, Roman antiquities, and of course great pizza, pasta, and wine. Few think of it as a land of U.S. bases. But Italy’s 59 Pentagon-identified “base sites” top that of any country except Germany (179), Japan (103), Afghanistan (100 and declining), and South Korea (89).
Publicly, U.S. officials say there are no U.S. military bases in Italy. They insist that our garrisons, with all their infrastructure, equipment, and weaponry, are simply guests on what officially remain “Italian” bases designated for NATO use. Of course, everyone knows that this is largely a legal nicety.
No one visiting the new base in Vicenza could doubt that it’s a U.S. installation all the way. The garrison occupies a former Italian air force base called Dal Molin. (In late 2011, Italian officials re-branded it “Caserma Del Din,” evidently to try to shed memories of the massive opposition the base has generated.) From the outside, it might be mistaken for a giant hospital complex or a university campus. Thirty one box-like peach-and-cream-colored buildings with light red rooftops dominate the horizon with only the foothills of the Southern Alps as a backdrop. A chain link fence topped by razor wire surrounds the perimeter, with green mesh screens obscuring views into the base.
If you manage to get inside, however, you find two barracks for up to 600 soldiers each. (Off base, the Army is contracting to lease up to 240 newly built homes in surrounding communities.) Two six-floor parking garages that can hold 850 vehicles, and a series of large office complexes, some small training areas, including an indoor shooting range still under construction, as well as a gym with a heated swimming pool, a “Warrior Zone” entertainment center, a small PX, an Italian-style café, and a large dining facility. These amenities are actually rather modest for a large U.S. base. Most of the newly built or upgraded housing, schools, medical facilities, shopping, and other amenities for soldiers and their families are across town on Viale della Pace (Peace Boulevard) at the Caserma Ederle base and at the nearby Villaggio della Pace (Peace Village).
A Pentagon Spending Spree
Beyond Vicenza, the military has been spending mightily to upgrade its Italian bases. Until the early 1990s, the U.S. air base at Aviano, northeast of Vicenza, was a small site known as “Sleepy Hollow.” Beginning with the transfer of F-16s from Spain in 1992, the Air Force turned it into a major staging area for every significant wartime operation since the first Gulf War. In the process, it has spent at least $610 million on more than 300 construction projects (Washington convinced NATO to provide more than half these funds, and Italy ceded 210 acres of land for free.) Beyond these “Aviano 2000” projects, the Air Force has spent an additional $115 million on construction since fiscal year 2004.
Not to be outdone, the Navy laid out more than $300 million beginning in 1996 to construct a major new operations base at the Naples airport. Nearby, it has a 30-year lease on an estimated $400 million “support site” that looks like a big-box shopping mall surrounded by expansive, well-manicured lawns. (The base is located in the Neapolitan mafia’s heartland and was built by a company that has been linked to the Camorra.) In 2005, the Navy moved its European headquarters from London to Naples as it shifted its attention from the North Atlantic to Africa, the Middle East, and the Black Sea. With the creation of AFRICOM, whose main headquarters remain in Germany, Naples is now home to a combined U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Tellingly, its website prominently displays the time in Naples, Djibouti, Liberia, and Bulgaria.
Meanwhile, Sicily has become increasingly significant in the Global War on Terror era, as the Pentagon has been turning it into a major node of U.S. military operations for Africa, which is less than 100 miles away across the Mediterranean. Since fiscal year 2001, the Pentagon has spent more on construction at the Sigonella Naval Air Station—almost $300 million—than at any Italian base other than Vicenza. Now the second busiest naval air station in Europe, Sigonella was first used to launch Global Hawk surveillance drones in 2002. In 2008, U.S. and Italian officials signed a secret agreement formally permitting the basing of drones there. Since then, the Pentagon has put out at least $31 million to build a Global Hawk maintenance and operations complex. The drones provide the foundation for NATO’s $1.7 billion Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which gives NATO surveillance capabilities as far as10,000 miles from Sigonella.
Beginning in 2003, “Joint Task Force Aztec Silence” has used P-3 surveillance planes based at Sigonella to monitor insurgent groups in North and West Africa. And since 2011, AFRICOM has deployed a task force of around 180 marines and two aircraft to the base to provide counterterrorism training to African military personnel in Botswana, Liberia, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Tunisia, and Senegal.
Sigonella also hosts one of three Global Broadcast Service satellite communications facilities and will soon be home to a NATO Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance deployment base and a data analysis and training center. In June, a U.S. Senate subcommittee recommended moving special operations forces and CV-22 Ospreys from Britain to Sicily, since “Sigonella has become a key launch pad for missions related to Libya, and given the ongoing turmoil in that nation as well as the emergence of terrorist training activities in northern Africa.” In nearby Niscemi, the Navy hopes to build an ultra high frequency satellite communications installation, despite growing opposition from Sicilians and other Italians concerned about the effects of the station and its electromagnetic radiation on humans and a surrounding nature reserve.
Amid the build-up, the Pentagon has actually closed some bases in Italy as well, including those in Comiso, Brindisi, and La Maddalena. While the Army has cut some personnel at Camp Darby, a massive underground weapons and equipment storage installation along Tuscany’s coast, the base remains a critical logistics and pre-positioning center enabling the global deployment of troops, weapons, and supplies from Italy by sea. Since fiscal year 2005, it’s seen almost $60 million in new construction.
And what are all these bases doing in Italy? Here’s the way one U.S. military official in Italy (who asked not to be named) explained the matter to me: “I’m sorry, Italy, but this is not the Cold War. They’re not here to defend Vicenza from a [Soviet] attack. They’re here because we agreed they need to be here to do other things, whether that’s the Middle East or the Balkans or Africa.”
Location, Location, Location
Bases in Italy have played an increasingly important role in the Pentagon’s global garrisoning strategy in no small part because of the country’s place on the map. During the Cold War, West Germany was the heart of U.S. and NATO defenses in Europe because of its positioning along the most likely routes of any Soviet attack into Western Europe. Once the Cold War ended, Germany’s geographic significance declined markedly. In fact, U.S. bases and troops at Europe’s heart looked increasingly hemmed in by their geography, with U.S. ground forces there facing longer deployment times outside the continent and the Air Force needing to gain overflight rights from neighboring countries to get almost anywhere.
Troops based in Italy, by contrast, have direct access to the international waters and airspace of the Mediterranean. This allows them to deploy rapidly by sea or air. As Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin told Congress in 2006, positioning the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Dal Molin “strategically positions the unit south of the Alps with ready access to international airspace for rapid deployment and forced entry/early entry operations.”
And we’ve seen the Pentagon take advantage of Italy’s location since the 1990s, when Aviano Air Base played an important role in the first Gulf War and in U.S. and NATO interventions in the Balkans (a short hop across the Adriatic Sea from Italy). The Bush administration, in turn, made bases in Italy some of its “enduring” European outposts in its global garrisoning shift south and east from Germany. In the Obama years, a growing military involvement in Africa has made Italy an even more attractive basing option.
“Sufficient Operational Flexibility”
Beyond its location, U.S. officials love Italy because, as the same military official told me, it’s a “country that offers sufficient operational flexibility.” In other words, it provides the freedom to do what you want with minimal restrictions and hassle.
Especially in comparison to Germany, Italy offers this flexibility for reasons that reflect a broader move away from basing in two of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations, Germany and Japan, toward basing in relatively poorer and less powerful ones. In addition to offering lower operating costs, such hosts are generally more susceptible to Washington’s political and economic pressure. They also tend to sign “status of forces agreements”—which govern the presence of U.S. troops and bases abroad—that are less restrictive for the U.S. military. Such agreements often offer more permissive settings when it comes to environmental and labor regulations or give the Pentagon more freedom to pursue unilateral military action with minimal host country consultation.
While hardly one of the world’s weaker nations, Italy is the second most heavily indebted country in Europe, and its economic and political power pales in comparison to Germany’s. Not surprisingly, then, as that Pentagon official in Italy pointed out to me, the status of forces agreement with Germany is long and detailed, while the foundational agreement with Italy remains the short (and still classified) 1954 Bilateral Infrastructure Agreement. Germans also tend to be rather exacting when it comes to following rules, while the Italians, he said, “are more interpretive of guidance.”
War + Bases = $
The freedom with which the U.S. military used its Italian bases in the Iraq War is a case in point. As a start, the Italian government allowed U.S. forces to employ them even though their use for a war pursued outside the context of NATO may violate the terms of the 1954 basing agreement. A classified May 2003 cable sent by U.S. Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler and released by WikiLeaks shows that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government gave the Pentagon “virtually everything” it wanted. “We got what we asked for,” wrote Sembler, “on base access, transit, and overflights, ensuring that forces… could flow smoothly through Italy to get to the fight.”
For its part, Italy appears to have benefited directly from this cooperation. (Some say that shifting bases from Germany to Italy was also meant as a way to punish Germany for its lack of support for the Iraq War.) According to a 2010 report from Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, “Italy’s role in the war in Iraq, providing 3,000 troops to the U.S.-led effort, opened up Iraqi reconstruction contracts to Italian firms, as well as cementing relations between the two allies.” Its role in the Afghan War surely offered similar benefits. Such opportunities came amid deepening economic troubles, and at a moment when the Italian government was turning to arms production as a major way to revive its economy. According to Jane’s, Italian weapons manufacturers like Finmeccanica have aggressively tried to enter the U.S. and other markets. In 2009, Italian arms exports were up more than 60 percent.
In October 2008, the two countries renewed a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding (a “most favored nation” agreement for military sales). It has been suggested that the Italian government may have turned Dal Molin over to the U.S. military—for free—in part to ensure itself a prominent role in the production of “the most expensive weapon ever built,” the F-35 fighter jet, among other military deals. Another glowing 2009 cable, this time from the Rome embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires Elizabeth Dibble, called the countries’ military cooperation “an enduring partnership.” It noted pointedly how Finmeccanica (which is 30 percent state-owned) “sold USD 2.3 billion in defense equipment to the U.S. in 2008 [and] has a strong stake in the solidity of the U.S.-Italy relationship.”
Of course, there’s another relevant factor in the Pentagon’s Italian build-up. For the same reasons American tourists flock to the country, U.S. troops have long enjoyed la dolce vita there. In addition to the comfortable living on suburban-style bases, around 40,000 military visitors a year from across Europe and beyond come to Camp Darby’s military resort and “American beach” on the Italian Riviera, making the country even more attractive.
The Costs of the Pentagon’s Pivots
Italy is not about to take Germany’s place as the foundation of U.S. military power in Europe. Germany has long been deeply integrated into the U.S. military system, and military planners have designed it to stay that way. In fact, remember how the Pentagon convinced Congress to hand over $600 million for a new base and related construction in Vicenza? The Pentagon’s justification for the new base was the Army’s need to bring troops from Germany to Vicenza to consolidate the 173rd brigade in one place.
And then, last March, one week after getting access to the first completed building at Dal Molin and with construction nearly finished, the Army announced that it wouldn’t be consolidating the brigade after all. One-third of the brigade would remain in Germany. At a time when budget cuts, unemployment, and economic stagnation for all but the wealthiest have left vast unmet needs in communities around the United States, for our $600 million investment, a mere 1,000 troops will move to Vicenza.
Even with those troops staying in Germany, Italy is fast becoming one of several new pivot points for U.S. warmaking powers globally. While much attention has been focused on President Obama’s “Asia pivot,” the Pentagon is concentrating its forces at bases that represent a series of pivots in places like Djibouti on the horn of Africa and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Bahrain and Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Bulgaria and Romania in Eastern Europe, Australia, Guam, and Hawai’i in the Pacific, and Honduras in Central America.
Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide—as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing—those bases will help lead us, in the name of American “security,” down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.
Copyright 2013 David Vine
As two new US ‘Hunter’ drones are set to start traversing German airspace next Monday, the army remains firm that they will be used solely for training drone operators rather than spying purposes, and will not be carrying weapons.
The Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) facility was officially opened at Vilseck Army Airfield on Monday by 7th Army Joint Multinational Training Command (JMTC). A letter of agreement between US and German authorities allows them the use of two ‘air bridges’ in the east of the country to train operators, it will be the first time a US unmanned aerial vehicle will fly beyond the limits of military training areas.
Hunter MQ-5B systems will span the distance between Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr, in the south east of the country, about 100km east from Nuremberg. Hohenfels is approximately 100km further south from Grafenwoehr.
The project has sparked concern after news began to leak out this summer. The US army has been channeling its efforts into gaining approval for the mission since 2007. “Some reports came out before we even knew we had approval,” Brig. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, JMTC Commander told Stars and Stripes.
Local communities have expressed apprehension about US drones being in German airspace. Germans are concerned about potential violation of their freedoms after the drones come into operation. The recent scandal surrounding NSA spying activities in Germany and the protests that followed, has heightened public skepticism.
“It’s a big issue here in general, and it’s a very German topic,” Constanze Schulze, a reporter for ARD Bavaria stated. “There are many discussions going on about unmanned units, and of course there is some concern. I think that’s why you see so many reporters here [in Vilseck]. Everyone is talking about it.”
Politicians have also expressed concerns. Reinhold Strobl of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDP) said that the public was informed “too late” and that there was “inadequate” information provided by the German authorities and US military ahead of the deployment. If it was not for test flights conducted in July, the politician says, Germans would have been left completely in the dark.
Other politicians complained about the noise, saying that drones that reach 175kph “have the volume of a lawn mower,” according to Peter Braun, the mayor of Schmidmühlen.
Richard Reisinger from the Christian Social Union Party (CSU) also said that the way the public was informed about the issue lacked transparency. “What happens to the collected data?” he asks, expressing concern of potential risk of information misuse that would violate privacy.
When Snowden’s leaks were first revealed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel claimed that she learned of the US surveillance programs through press reports. However, it later came to light that Germany’s BND intelligence service sends “massive amounts” of intercepts to the US and UK daily. Such revelations sparked a wave of protests across Germany calling on the government to provide more privacy and stop US spying activities.
Hunter MQ-5B are currently the largest and most advanced of their type, and will not be armed, and will be controlled from the ground. The distance apparently reflects that which soldiers would have to navigate in Afghanistan, operators said. The vehicle will travel between approximately 11,000 and 14,000 feet in the sky.
“The air bridge will only be used for transit between the two training areas,” according to Col. John Norris, Commander of the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels. He added that “no UAS will carry weapons through the air bridge.”
Drone operator Sgt. Carson Wilson reiterated that Germans had no need for concern. “We’re here to let people know the camera is only to avoid obstacles, not to watch what people are doing,” he said.
“Although we only use UASs at JMTC to train Soldiers — they are not armed, nor do they record data when in flight,” said Piatt. “We understand that our German neighbors have concerns and we want to make sure we address those concerns.”
On Tuesday, an open house was hosted that was aimed at alleviating any worries the German population may have over the presence of US drones. On Wednesday, local media were invited to explore the new facility.
“I wanted to invite our German neighbors and members of the press to come in and see the facility, see and handle the UAS aircraft that are flying at the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels training areas and speak directly with the soldiers who maintain and fly them,” Piatt said.
During the event, two other types of UAS were displayed alongside the Hunter: the Raven and the Shadow. The vehicles were accompanied by their respective operators, maintenance crews and translators for each one. So attendees would be informed about what the training would entail, maps of the air corridors were on display alongside the vehicles that would navigate the routes.
JMTC officials said that the training with UAS is just one of many US army tools in the area, alongside fire ranges and simulation resources to prepare forces for conflict and battlefield strategy.
“Hopefully, this shows that we aren’t keeping any secrets here,” Piatt said.
1. Which of the following is the most accurate statement?
1. chemical weapons were first used during the First World War
2. chemical weapons were invented and first used in the 19th century
3. chemical weapons have been around since prehistoric people first put poisons on arrowheads
4. the first real chemical weapon was “Greek Fire” invented by the Byzantines in the 7th century
5. chemical weapons were first produced in the 18th century, based on formulae found in Leonardo da Vinci’s rediscovered writings
2. An international conference in 1899 produced the Hague Treaty, which bans the use of projectiles containing poison gas in warfare. Only one country’s representative dissented. What country was this?
3. United Kingdom
5. Union of South Africa
3. In the First World War, what percentage of fatalities were due to chemical weapons?
4. In April 1917, British forces used poison gas against German and Ottoman forces in
5. Who made the following comment in May 1919, regarding the use of mustard gas against Mesopotamian Arabs?
“I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas…I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes… It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected.”
1. Benito Mussolini
2. Winston Churchill
3. Georges Clemenceau
4. Woodrow Wilson
5. Ibn Saud
6. Mustard gas was invented in 1917 by a scientist in
7. During the First World War, Germany was the largest producer of chemical weapons. What country was number two?
8. 88,000 people died due to chemical weapons during the First World War. 56,000 of these were in one country. What was it?
9. At the Washington Arms Conference of 1922 which country opposed inclusion in a treaty of an article banning chemical weapons?
10. Over 60 U.S. merchant seamen were killed by mustard gas in an Italian port in December 1943. Why did this happen?
1. The ship was accidently attacked by a British submarine, with torpedoes armed with mustard gas
2. German troops attacked with gas
3. Italian guerrillas attacked with gas
4. The gas was aboard their ship and released when German forces bombed it
5. None of the above
11. How many tons of chemical weapons material did the U.S. at peak inventory?
1. The U.S. never built or stockpiled such weapons
2. 10,000 tons
3. 30,000 tons
4. 50,000 tons
5. 110,000 tons
12. Napalm was invented
1. by the ancient Greeks
2. by a Swedish scientist in 1876
3. by scientists at Harvard University in 1943
4. by Dow Chemical Corp. during the Vietnam War
5. by the Japanese military during World War II
13. Which president announced that the U.S. would not be the first to use chemical weapons?
14. Napalm is:
1. A mix of petroleum plus a gelling agent that sticks to skin and causes severe burns when ignited
2. A gas that causes asphyxiation
3. A type of explosive bullet
4. An invisible gas released at low altitude by helicopters
5. A kerosene-based jet fuel used in firebombs
15. Over 2 million tons of napalm were used in World War II. Between 1965 and 1973 how many tons of napalm were dropped on Vietnam by U.S. forces?
1. 1 million
2. 2 million
3. 5 million
4. 8 million
5. 15 million
16. Up to March 1992, according to a Senate study, the U.S. licensed export of anthrax and VX nerve gas to which country among the following?
2. South Africa
3. United Kingdom
17. In March 1988 Iraqi forces attacked Kurds in northern Iraq with chemical weapons, killing over 3000. How did the U.S. react?
1. The State Department stated its belief that Iran was behind the attacks
2. Pres. Reagan declared Iraq in violation of international law and asked Congress for permission to punish it
3. U.S. officials openly argued that since Saddam Hussein was a firm ally against Iran the U.S. had to overlook his war crimes
4. The U.S. placed Iraq back on its list of terror-sponsoring nations
5. The U.S. halted military cooperation with Iraq in its war with Iran
18. Which of the following countries are believed to possess stockpiles of chemical weapons?
1. Russia, China, France, U.K., Russia, Syria
2. Egypt, Israel, Syria, North Korea, Russia, U.S.
3. Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, China, France, Russia, U.S.
4. Iran, Syria, Russia, U.S., India, Egypt
5. Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, Russia, U.S., Germany
19. The U.S. claims that Syria possesses about 1000 tons of chemical weapons. How many tons does the U.S. still possess?
20. What countries continue to refuse to ban chemical weapons?
1. Syria, Israel, Zimbabwe, South Korea, North Korea
2. Angola, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan
3. Syria, Israel, U.S., Russia, China
4. Syria, Iran, Zimbabwe, North Korea
5. Angola, Syria, Egypt, North Korea, South Sudan
The Chemical Weapons Convention approved by the UN General Assembly that bans use of chemical weapons was first signed by participating nations in what year?
1. 3 (Salon of Athens poisoned the Spartan water supply. Henry III used quicklime against the French. In 1675 the French and Germans agreed to stop using poisoned bullets. Chemical warfare is not only modern.)
2. 2 (The U.S. representative wanted no curbs on U.S. inventiveness.)
3. 1 (Remarkably small proportion.)
4. 5 (Mostly British versus Germans, with the latter winning.)
5. 2 (Churchill the consummate colonialist.)
6. 4 (Germany’s chemical industry led the world.)
7. 5 (The U.K. and U.S. produced chemical weapons too, but France was far ahead.)
8. 1 (Compare 9000 Germans, 8000 French, 8000 British Empire, 1500 U.S.)
9.1 (Not surprising, since France was then the world’s leading manufacturer of chemical weapons.)
10. 4 (News of this was hushed up.)
11. 3 (Now down to 3000.)
12. 3 (The scientists were doing war-related research. Napalm was soon used; on March 9, 1945 napalm dropped on Tokyo killed over 87,000 people.)
13. 4 (Nov. 25, 1969 statement.)
14. 1 (From naphthenic palmitic acids.)
16. 4 (As part of cooperation during the Iran-Iraq War.)
17. 1 (At the same time anonymous government officials opined that there was no law preventing someone from using weapons of mass destruction on his own people.)
18. 2 (Israel argues that its chemical weapons serve as a deterrent to Syrian attack.)
19. 5 (Russia has about 9000 and plans to destroy it all by next year.)
20. 2 (Now that Syria has signed the treaty, just four countries remain outside it.)
Bonus: 4 (There are now 189 signatories.)
Communications sent between Germany’s two leading email providers will now be encrypted to provide better security against potential NSA surveillance. Experts say the move will do little to thwart well-equipped snoopers.
The “E-mail made in Germany” project has been set up in the wake of US surveillance revelations made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. National Security Agency documents show that the agency intercepts 500 million phone calls, texts, and emails in Germany each month.
“Germans are deeply unsettled by the latest reports on the potential interception of communication data,” said Rene Obermann, head of Deutsche Telekom, the country’s largest email provider. “Now, they can bank on the fact that their personal data online is as secure as it possibly can be.”
Deutsche Telekom and United Internet, which operate about two-thirds of Germany’s primary email accounts, said that from now on they will use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) – a modern, industry-standard form of encryption that scrambles signals as they are sent through cables, which is the point at which the NSA often intercepts communication. The companies will also employ exclusively German servers and internal cables when sending messages between each other.
Obermann told the media that no access to users’ email will now be possible without a warrant. However, experts claim the impact of the measure is likely to be mostly psychological and symbolic.
“This initiative helps to tackle the-day-to-day sniffing around on the communication lines but it still doesn’t prevent governments from getting information,” Stefan Frei, a research director at information security company NSS Labs, told Reuters.
As Snowden’s files revealed, the NSA specifically focuses on foreign servers – often with backing from the country that hosts them – when intercepting communication. The agency is also able to crack the SSL code, with and without help from the email operator. However, it is much harder to do so without an operator-issued “key.”
It is notable that Google and other leading companies implicated as willing participants in the PRISM surveillance program also offer SSL encoding with their email service.
“Of course the NSA could still break in if they wanted to, but the mass encryption of emails would make it harder and more expensive for them to do so,” said Sandro Gaycken, a professor of cyber security at Berlin’s Free University.
RT has conducted an interview with Annie Machon, a former intelligence officer with the UK’s MI5 who resigned in 1996 to blow the whistle. She is now a writer, public speaker and a Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Germans are very protective of their privacy because of the historical experience during the Nazi era and with the Stasi following the war says Machon. However German intelligence agencies used the system which the US put in place to spy on the Germans.
RT: The revelations go even further against Chancellor Merkel’s initial angry response to Washington’s surveillance operations, how do you think you could explain these contradictions?
Annie Machon: The US has dealt Germany a marked deck of cards, to be quite honest, because what we’re looking at here is on one hand they are accessing Germany as a level III, a tier III partner in the internet spying game. They seem to be spying on them in the same way they are spying on China, or Iraq, or Saudi Arabia. On the other hand they are encouraging BND BfV, the German intelligence agencies to use the system which they’ve put in place to spy on the Germans. So it is giving with one hand and taking away with the other.
When Snowden’s initial information came out, it appeared that what we’re looking at was Germany was shocked, because they have a constitution that was supposed to protect the people’s privacy, they are supposed to protect people’s private communications and yet the NSA was spying on Germany. There were the initial sounds from the government and Angela Merkel and the people like that saying- we’re shocked, we’re shocked.
Yet the new revelations that are coming out in Der Spiegel, actually indicate that the German intelligence agency was very keen to get a piece of the action, to help the PRISM program, which is getting all the meta-data from social media and the Temper program which is mainlining into intelligence information coming out from all the optic cables. So it is sort of a lot of hypocrisy as well coming from the government.
RT: Now Edward Snowden’s revelations that Germany was spied on by the US did upset many, some even comparing the White House to East Germany’s former secret service-Stasi, what do you think those critics are saying now that it’s known that Berlin was cooperating with Washington?
AM: I think that they will be saying that there are even more likenesses to the old Stasi. Because we have a situation in Germany where because of their historical experience with the Gestapo in World War II and the Stasi in East Germany, they’ve put in a very strong cast iron constitution to protect the people from the invasion of their privacy, from being spied on. And this is what the Germans for decades have taken for granted. They have certain legal protections. And we have seen this time and again when other European-wide initiatives have tried to be imposed on Germany, where things like facial recognition data on Google or Facebook have been banned in Germany.
And yet the BND and the BfV, the two intelligence agencies in Germany have been doing this sort of spying, so I think the hypocrisy is quite astounding and will create a great deal of anger and questions rightly how much the German government knew what was going on.
RT: Snowden’s leaks claim that Germany has been watched much more closely than other EU countries. What kind of threat could Washington’s close ally pose to US interests or was it not a threat that they were looking for?
AM: I think it is just the ability to snoop. It might be well be a reaction to certain privacy laws in Germany. The Germans cannot conceivably pose a threat to the US, apart from through trade powers or something. In fact they have been bending over backwards to assist the US in Afghanistan. They provided more intelligence about Afghanistan than any other NATO state. And yet the US is doing this to Germany.
Most of the countries don’t seem that worried about the PRISM and the Temper programs which spy on everybody… At least in Germany there is sense of that because of historic reasons. People are worried about the surveillance state that is encroaching.
RT: Both countries claim surveillance is essential to providing security, why so much outcry if people have nothing to hide?
AM: Firstly there’s a right to privacy enshrined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the WWII and that can only be infringed if you pose a direct threat to the state. And secondly they can change the goal post, what it means to be a threat to the state.
So for example at the moment, if you want to go out and protest about government issues, or nuclear issues, or peace issues and you want to wave a placard on the street, most people would think that is exercising your democratic right. In many European countries, many other countries too, this is now being deemed to be an extremist behavior, or violently extremist behavior or even terrorism.
So the laws of the land can change and you become a threat even though you think you’re just exercising your democratic rights. And we’ve seen this time and time again across most European countries. So I think people need to be aware, just because they don’t think they are doing anything wrong at the moment, that situation could change. It is a very slippery slope.