Sunday, July 6, 2014

Germany/US: Update--US Envoy Summoned to Foreign Ministry to Explain, Washington Mum

According to Reuters, the German government wants a quick and clear explanation from Washington for US intelligence's apparent arrest of a German national, 31, who was arrested last week on suspicion of being a double-agent, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere  said in a newspaper interview with Bild.

The White House and the US State Department both have thus far declined to comment on the arrest of a 31-year-old employee of Germany's BND foreign intelligence agency, who admits passing documents to a US contact, according to intelligence and political sources.

That includes information about a parliamentary committee looking into allegations by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden that Washington carried out major surveillance in Germany, including monitoring Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone. 

COMMENT: It is truly mystifying that President Barack Obama would care so little about about his vital relationship with Germany that he would continue to alienate one of the US' most vital European allies.

A close analysis of the US' heretofore close relationship to Germany suggests that very strangely Washington seems to be telling Berlin to "go away."

If so, for what reason? 

Surveillance by any government agency remains a very sensitive issue in a country where the memory of the Nazi's Gestapo, remains all too fresh, particularly for many elder Germans.

Head of state Joachim Gauck, a former Protestant pastor and rights campaigner in the old German Democratic Republic (GDR), told German broadcast networks that the NSA's carnivorous appetite for sensitive information is puzzling.

De Maiziere, one of the cabinet ministers closest to Merkel, called it a "very serious case" which must be investigated fully to "gauge the scale of the alleged spying and especially answer the question of who was involved."

The US ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on Friday (July 4) called to hear Berlin's request for an explanation and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Sunday (July 6) it was in Washington's own interests to help with the "quickest possible clarification of the facts."

The detained suspect had offered his services to the United States voluntarily, intelligence and political sources said, and had been paid about 25,000 euros ($34,100) for passing 218 BND [foreign intelligence] documents to his unidentified US contact.

After the Snowden revelations, Berlin demanded that Washington agree to a "no-spy agreement," yet the US thus far has been unwilling to make such a commitment

If not, why not?