Berlin Gets Serious In Its Search For Moles
In the December 1, 2014 edition of the German newspaper magazine Der Spiegel, reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Chief of Staff, Peter Altmaier, and Intelligence Coordinator, Klaus-Dieter Fritsche have launched an all-out effort to stop the hemorrhaging and leaking of classified information to the German media. Der Spiegel notes that Mr. Altmaier and Mr. Fritsche filed a written criminal complaint earlier this month “against unknown persons with German prosecutors.” Der Spiegel added that “the complaint is broad, and, aimed at all informants — whether they are lawmakers, or agency officials. Parliamentarians — particularly those members of the confidential intelligence financial panel, those on the NSA Investigative Committee, and those on the Parliamentary Control Panel, which monitors German intelligence activities — will likely assume they will be the first to come under suspicion. Der Spiegel noted that “this move is an attempt by the government to intimidate those who might be supplying secrets to the media; and, although it may be commonplace in the United States, it is the kind of step that Germany hasn’t seen in years.’
“Concern in Berlin has been rising,” Der Spiegel observed, “as a result of several different disclosures, ranging from German intelligence agencies’ cooperation with the NSA to planned deliveries of battle tanks to Saudi Arabia. The government has the impression that the number of secret documents that have been leaked to the media has significantly increased, as has the number of media outlets on the prowl for such leaks.”
“The catalyst for the criminal complaint now being filed,” the paper said, “is [because] of recent reports in Der Spiegel and in the influential daily Suddeutsche Zeitung. On Oct. 20, Der Spiegel reported that Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), believed that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine were responsible for shooting down Malaysian flight MH-17. That report cited a secret mission of the Parliamentary Control Panel during which BND head Gerhard Schindler presented satellite images and other photos as evidence for the agency’s view.”
“It was information that the German government wanted to remain confidential, as was maternal pertaining to problems encountered by the country’s domestic intelligence agency with recruiting informants, which Spiegel likewise reported on in October. Both reports could become elements in the government’s forthcoming complaint,” the paper noted.
In addition to Chancellor Merkel’s Chief of Staff and Intelligence Coordinator, Berlin’s Defense and Foreign Ministry have already launched efforts to identify the sources of the sensitive leaks Der Spiegel wrote. “The two ministries are concerned about several internal NATO documents that found their way into the German press in recent months. Several allied countries have complained to Berlin, warning that cooperation could be negatively impacted should the reports not cease. An internal NATO investigation was also opened.”
These kind of investigations can be very destructive and toxic to the workforce charged with keeping their countries’ secrets — just ask those veterans of the post WWII CIA and the fallout from the Kim Philby affair and the Cambridge 5 who were all secretly working to Moscow while employed at very senior levels of British intelligence, The CIA’s Counterintelligence Chief, James Jesus Angleton, went on the warpath inside Langley, looking for moles and traitors behind every desk. It was the height of McCarthyism and the ‘Red Scare,’ a communist behind every ‘tree.’ The atmosphere became so toxic, that it became a witch hunt, and many an innocent careerist found their career’s unnecessarily shortened or ruined by specious allegations and unwarranted suspicion. Let’s hope that the German government investigation doesn’t stray so far in their search for moles — that their effort turns into a witch hunt…instead of a prudent and well-thought out counterintelligence examination.
Yet more fallout from the Snowden leaks; but, not the kind Snowden’s supporters will likely concern themselves with. V/R, RCP