by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
angela merkel, germany, nsa, spying

New NSA Leakers Reveal NSA Switched From Spying On Merkel... To All Her Chief Advisors

from the well,-of-course dept

It's long forgotten now, but back in August, the US and Germany were said to be working on an agreement not to spy on each other's governments. As we noted at the time, such an agreement would almost certainly be meaningless. Of course, that news came out after the initial Snowden leaks, but prior to the high profile news in October that the NSA was monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls. While President Obama (after first claiming he had no idea it was happening) promised Merkel that the NSA would stop spying on her phone calls, by January, those plans for a big "bilateral no-spy deal" were basically dead.

And, indeed, over the weekend, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that the NSA may have stopped bugging Merkel's phone, but instead it had started bugging the phones of basically everyone around her, including pretty much every senior government official who reported to her. The report quotes a "high-ranking NSA employee in Germany" explaining what's going on:
"We have had the order not to miss out on any information now that we are no longer able to monitor the chancellor's communication directly," it quoted the NSA employee as saying.
This shouldn't be that surprising. This is what the NSA is going to do, after all. But what amazes me about this story is the fact that it's already leaked out, and that despite all the talk of cracking down on future leaks out of the NSA, the NSA already has another leaker releasing information that is clearly politically sensitive. So many folks like to point to Snowden as if he's the only leaker the NSA ever had or ever will have. But it's increasingly looking like there are others within the NSA who are equally uncomfortable with what's become of the intelligence community.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Feb 2014 @ 3:35pm

    I have a hard time believing that a high-ranking NSA employee in Germany, would be stupid enough to let a newspaper quote him, list his employer, and his location! There can't be many NSA employees in Germany.

    Sounds like someone's about to get fried, if the story is true. Hopefully the leaker will be alright, but he/she is definitely acting sloppy, by letting the papers identify who their employer is, and where they work.

    I recommend leakers use DeadDrop/SecureDrop/StrongBox, and for God sake, don't identify yourself, who employes you, or your geographic location. Also, nobody is going to believe you unless you submit documents, photos, or video as proof of your assertions. Otherwise you're just an unverifiable anonymous source.

    I would never trust a journalist to keep my identity safe. That's your responsibility. Even if a journalist wanted to keep you safe, chances are their phone location metadata will lead authorities right to the leaker, if they ever met face-to-face.

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