Whistleblower: NSA secretly continues Merkel surveillance by bugging other German officials

An anonymous NSA leaker revealed to the German magazine Bild am Sonntag that the agency has been spying on senior German government figures. The move is apparently a response to Obama prohibiting the agency from spying on Chancellor Angela Merkel (or other world leaders) without his authorization -- by spying on the people with whom Merkel communicates, the agency is still able to intercept a large fraction of her most sensitive communications without presidential authorization.

Two amazing facts about this story:

1. The NSA is out of control. The president of the United States, the man who has the final say over NSA policy, directly ordered them to stop spying on Angela Merkel. NSA spooks then cooked up a way of continuing to spy on Chancellor Merkel anyway, using a flimsy pretense unworthy of four-year-old. (This is assuming that Obama himself didn't wink-nudge them and say, "Actually, go ahead and keep spying on her but not personally, OK?"

2. Snowden isn't alone. When the NSA breaks its own rules, other whistleblowers come forward. This probably won't stop any time soon.

On Sunday it was revealed that the NSA, forbidden by President Obama from tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone directly, has ramped up its spying on her senior government officials, according to the German Sunday paper Bild am Sonntag. The paper said that the information's source is an anonymous, high-ranking NSA official stationed in Germany.

NSA moves from bugging German Chancellor to bugging German ministers [Megan Geuss/Ars Technica]

Notable Replies

  1. The paper said that the information's source is an anonymous, high-ranking NSA official stationed in Germany.

    Interesting. Either brave, given that the list of "high-ranking" NSA officials stationed in Germany can't be all that long, or part of the US' political calculus done in order to scare someone or to obtain some other piece of information. This just seems too weird to be so easily explained as some high-ranking person mentioning it to journalists.

  2. I didn't know there were 320 important Germans, but I guess it's a step up from having just one.

  3. KarlS says:

    I have trouble believing that this was a whistleblower. I think a press release is more likely. Of course the next question is by whom and why.

    On possibility is that it is supposed to antagonize the German government and public in a limited and deniable way in order to prove to a domestic audience that nothing really changed and no substantial concessions were made.

    Or perhaps for some hidden reason they really want to make fundamental changes and escalate the situation to demonstrate that it is necessary.

  4. Is the NSA out of control in that it is leaking, or out of control in that it is an organization more powerful than the president?

  5. Anonymous whistleblowers? Those losers. If they were real men, they would out themselves on the Tonight Show and surrender to police, to be waterboarded for the next 40 years.

    Oh I almost forgot, why do they hate America?

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