Fiercely critical of NSA, Germany now answering for its own spy practices

Germany is embroiled in a spying controversy that is causing political upheaval and sparking a national debate about surveillance. 

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel discovered in 2013 that the National Security Agency had been snooping on her countrymen, and even tapping her own cellphone, through the media leaks by former agency contractor Edward Snowden. Soon after, she famously remarked, “Spying between friends, that’s just not done.”

Now, in something of an ironic twist, Germany is coming to terms with its own spy agency’s surveillance tactics and cooperation with the NSA. Continue reading

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The Flawed German Debate on Armed Drone Acquisition: “What Does This Have to Do with Our Procurement Plans, for God’s Sake?”

Image: Flickr/UK Ministry of Defense

 

In Germany, defence and military policy is rarely a subject of great interest to the general public. The pacifist mainstream view and the “friendly disinterest” in the Bundeswehr means that military matters are seldom discussed in detail by the general media.

There is one military topic, however, which has been discussed repeatedly and heatedly over the last few years: whether the German Bundeswehr should procure armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly called ‘drones’.

The Bundeswehr has been using drones – the unarmed types – since the 1970s and, until recently, had five different UAV models in use in Afghanistan. German firms produce smaller military surveillance UAVs and sell them to both the Bundeswehr as well as abroad. Until recently, however, the general public did not show a particular interest in these aircraft. Continue reading

French Jihadis With ISIL Leave Europe at Risk of Iraq

By Gregory Viscusi Jun 17, 2014 12:00 AM GMT+0200
Photographer: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

 

The young man in a video posted on YouTube last July identified himself as Abu Abd Al-Rahman and told his French “brothers” it was their religious duty to join him in Syria to fight the Assad regime.

In perfect French, he called on President Francois Hollande to convert to Islam and to distance himself from Jewish and American allies.

His real name was Nicolas Bons and he was from Toulouse. On Jan. 2, his mother Dominique Bons received an SMS saying her 30-year-old son was dead. She called the number and someone told her in French he’d died in a suicide attack near Homs. Her stepson and Nicolas’s half-brother Jean-Daniel, 22, had already died in combat in August near Aleppo. Continue reading

Fast Draw – Russia vs. The West

It’s not that Putin is so strong, it’s that the world is weak. Putin’s recent actions have been nothing less than outrageous, but that’s because he can see that weakness very clearly

9916896_m featureSyria, Afghanistan, Iraq, the evidence for that weakness goes on and on. The U.S. and Europe compete to see who initiates more sterile discussions in the U.N. or other useless international organizations. Putin can see the big picture and acts on it. The atmoshpere of “Russia can do anything” peaked two days ago.

The leading anchor of Russia’s national TV station described Russia as the only country that can turn the U.S. into “radioactive ash” – a comment which led to increased tension between the two in light of recent events in the Crimean Peninsula.

“Russia is the only country in the world who can really turn the U.S. into radioactive ash,” said Dmitry Kisliyov in his weekly report on the Rossiya 1 TV channel. He argued that America and Barack Obama are afraid of Putin and Russia in light of the Ukraine sitation. Continue reading