Dubious Company

MerkelBased on documents which had been leaked by Edward Snowden to reporters of the Guardian and Washington Post in June last year in Hong Kong, Der Spiegel reports today, among other widespread spying activities in Germany, about  a top secret list (apparently produced for the Five Eyes, i.e. USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand) which names, in alphabetical order by their first name, altogether 122 targeted country leaders. It mentions, at number 9, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in between former President Amadou Toumadi Toure of Mali  and Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad. The undated list seems to be rather old since former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, who had spend the last two and half years in jail from where she was released only a couple of weeks ago during the uproar in Ukraine, is listed last. As Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark got to know,

“The document indicates that Angela Merkel has been placed in the so-called ‘Target Knowledge Database’ (TKB), the central database of individual targets. An internal NSA description states that employees can use it to analyze ‘complete profiles’ of target persons. The responsible NSA unit praises the automated machine-driven administration of collected information about high-value targets.

The searchable sources cited in the document include, among others, the signals intelligence database ‘Marina,’ which contains metadata ingested from sources around the world. The unit also gives special attention to promoting a system for automated name recognition called ‘Nymrod’. The document states that some 300 automatically generated ‘cites,’ or citations, are provided for Angela Merkel alone. The citations in ‘Nymrod’ are derived from intelligence agencies, transcripts of intercepted fax, voice and computer-to-computer communication. According to internal NSA documents, it is used to ‘find information relating to targets that would otherwise be tough to track down.’ Each of the names contained in Nymrod is considered a ‘SIGINT target.'”

It is not clear why not all targeted individuals were published by Der Spiegel. That Angela Merkel, after all America’s strongest ally, is listed by the American intelligence community among dictators is quite unintelligible. In fact, a trained ape, to use a recent comparison by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, would have put her there wasting his time by tapping her text messaging. But Merkel is not really the main problem here. As Der Spiegel argues, the U.S. has apparently access to the communications of all German citizens, “regardless whether those affected are suspected of having committed an offense or not.” Germany as a prime NSA target is in the same league as “China, Mexico, Japan, Venezuela, Yemen, Brazil, Sudan, Guatemala, Bosnia and Russia.”

29 March 2014 @ 4:50 pm.
Last modified March 29, 2014.

 

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