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The chief of Germany’s counter-espionage service says that in direct response to revelations of U.S. spying on Germans by the National Security Agency, German intelligence agents are starting a new program to increase spying on Americans in his country.
German Domestic Intelligence Service President Hans-Georg Maassen said in a television interview “it took the Americans a long time to realize how upset the German public is.”
“We need to make sure our partners understand our needs and our situation,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans are outraged by the revelations that came through the release of documents by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and are demanding action.
Maassen said intelligence officials are responding.
“Germany needs to adjust counterespionage and take a 360-degree view,” Maassen said.
He said that means Germany will be closing intelligence gaps and make it more difficult for U. S. spies and diplomats to operate in the country.
Maassen also acknowledged that German intelligence is taking resources away from spying on traditional adversaries such as Russia and China and devoting them to the increased surveillance of Americans.
Another German counterespionage officer confirmed the diversion of resources in a press statement.
“The move would be a departure from the practice followed for decades, which was to systematically monitor the activities of countries like China, Russia or North Korea, but hardly the activity of Western partner countries. A final political decision will be made as soon as the Chancellor’s Office, the Home Office and the Foreign Office have voted,” said the officer, who commented anonymously.
Back in the U.S., House Foreign Affairs Committee member Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, said he believes that the German government has already implemented some of the stricter measures.
“The Germans have tightened entry into their country. I traveled there recently and steps that congressmen and diplomats used to be able to avoid have been put back. We used to get privileged handling upon entry, but now it’s more restricted,” Stockman said.
Stockman said that much of the blame for the tense situation with Germany has to be laid at the feet of President Obama.
“Obama spies on our allies and gives secrets to our enemies. We don’t spy on China or North Korea. He campaigned on improving relations, but he hasn’t done that at all. In fact he’s destroyed the trust our allies had in us,” Stockman said.
In a statement given to the German magazine Der Spiegel, German intelligence officials said that the new security program will not just target American diplomats but known intelligence operatives and American journalists.
“It is also important to acquire accurate knowledge of diplomatically accredited news representatives who are in Germany and about the technical features of embassy buildings. In the case of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, the suspicion is in the air, that from there the mobile phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was bugged,” the article said.
“Also the director of the Military Counterintelligence Service … of the Bundeswehr is currently considering whether he should look more in the direction of friendly intelligence services in counterintelligence,” Der Spiegel said.
The State Department has not responded to WND’s request for comment.
While German officials and members of Congress are concerned about the diplomatic fallout, intelligence analysts say that in one sense, not much will change.
Georisk Analysis Consultancy President V. Da Cruz Amador said espionage and counter-espionage operations have always been widespread and reciprocal.
“Whenever we are speaking about counterespionage, it does not matter who and when, most of them (the nations involved) are always in the loop tracking each other,” Amador said.
The president of the Kingston, Ontario-based high-risk, travel security firm Par-Sec Consultancy, who asks not to be named for security reasons, agreed that the German announcement is no surprise.
“Since every country spies on another, friend or foe, the German moves should come as no surprise. Germany and France probably spy on the U.S. and Canada, but haven’t been caught yet,” he said.
A former CIA station chief who asked not to be identified for security reasons said the German government is putting on a show for its home audience.
“This is nothing new and basically the same old line. To protect themselves against, for example, Chinese or Russian spies, every country has a counterespionage program for defensive purposes. There is no way to protect their secrets from Russian spies, without also protecting them from Chinese, Korean, U.S., or British or anyone else’s spies,” he said.
He said he’s skeptical that German intelligence would take resources away from operations against China and Russia.
“Without totally unlimited resources, like the KGB or Nazis once had, every counter intelligence service must prioritize its targets. Offensively, the Germans will follow suspect U.S. spies if they have the manpower after following those from more serious enemies,” he said.
“As it is, however, the French and German spy and counter-spy services have always known the U.S. was spying on them a little and they always kept an eye on our spies and diplomats if they could when we were in their territory,” he said.