The German intelligence gave their American counterparts 1.3 million ‘metadata’, including calls, text messages and e-mails per month.
“The Americans are prepared to negotiate a mutual agreement of non-espionage.” These words are the ones chosen by Angela Merkel back when it was discovered that the NSA had been spying on everyone all over the world, including Merkel herself.
The head of the German Government spoke in September 2013, at the outbreak of the scandal that surrounded US intelligence. Then she sought to defend her position in the elections of that same month and wanted to show her toughness to a matter that infuriated potential voters.
The problem was that, as we now know, President Barack Obama never intended to offer Merkel a non-espionage agreement of the type announced by Merkel.
“I can say here publicly that everyone in the chancellery worked in good faith,” replied Merkel on Monday in a press conference after a German publication unveiled the details of her lie.
After a decade in power, Merkel has a very high popularity, but in recent weeks her numbers have dropped five points to 70%, according to statistics released by public television.
The new revelations contribute to worsen relations between Christian Democrats and Social Democrats, the two major parties that govern in coalition.
Politicians have already begun launching accusations against each other for what they think is the mismanagement in overseeing the actions of the secret services.
Members from the SDP accused the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ronald Pofalla, of lying to the public.
Pofalla had gone further than his boss and said it was the Americans who had offered mutual agreements on espionage.
“If it is true that the United States thought never to offer this deal, then the Conservatives lied in the campaign of 2013,” said on Monday the secretary general of the Social Democrats, Yasmin Fahimi.
The revelation that the government had lied to the public is a blow to the government’s credibility. At the government press conference on Monday, Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, dodged questions about Merkel’s deception for most of the Q&A session.
“All members of the Government informed the public in good faith” he repeated up to ten times before some journalists. “There will be an agreement between the NSA spying and the BND, the German Secret Services.
This agreement must ensure that the laws of the two countries are not violated. We have verbal confirmation from the Americans,” said the same spokesman in August 2013.
However the reality was very different. The emails exchanged back in 2013 between the counselors of foreign policy Christoph Heugen and Karen Donfried, made it clear that the Americans gave no guarantees they would abide by the laws that the Germans demanded.
“For us it is absolutely crucial to clarify to the parliamentary investigation committee that American secret services will not under any circumstances infringe German law in our territory,” Merkel wrote to the representatives on July 31, 2013.
But Americans always remained firm in their position. “For us the important thing is to respect American laws. Our experts do not feel prepared to judge compliance with German standards,” had said Obama’s counselor back in July.
“There will be no agreement on non-espionage,” she said in a January 2014 e-mail..
The bad news for Merkel do not end there. Bild launched on Sunday another bomb with destructive potential.
According to tabloid reports, the National Security Agency tried to spy on Siemens industrial group with the help of the German intelligence services.
German espionage regularly gave huge amounts of “metadata” including phone calls, text messages and emails to their US counterparts, reported German newspaper Zeit.
According to secret minutes to which this publication had access, the Federal Information Service (BND), head of foreign espionage, delivered up to 1.3 million “metadata” a month to the National Security Agency (NSA).
The information is consistent with what was reported two years ago by the former NSA analyst, Edward Snowden, who revealed details about massive espionage programs as well as consistent spying on world leaders, including German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
Snowden alleged that in December 2012 the BND had given the NSA 500 million “metadata” reports Zeit.
This is the latest revelation plot linked to the German American intelligence, a scandal that has just been reactivated with new information and that is putting pressure on Merkel herself and several of her ministers, including the current interior minister, Thomas de Maiziere.
The German government is on the spotlight this week on the possibility that some of its members had consciously lied throughout this scandal.
In particular, there are doubts about De Maiziere’s statements in which he said that the government had no knowledge of US industrial espionage in Germany when the media published evidence to the contrary.
Merkel referred to the controversy yesterday by reiterating that the strategy she will follow is the same that has been maintained by Berlin: This matter is classified so no one can speak about it. She also emphasized that her government has never knowingly lied.
“I can only say to the public opinion at this time that all of us worked to the best of their knowledge,” insisted the chancellor.
The head of the German government has been willing to appear before the parliamentary committee investigating the US spying on German territory.
The president of the commission of official secrets, André Hahn has demanded that the Chancellor clarifies the scandal in an appearance before the plenary of the Bundestag.