The German government has found someone to blame for the spy scandal where US spooks spied on their allies. The Germans have ordered CIA’s top officer in Berlin to leave the country in what appears to be an extraordinary escalation of a conflict between the two allies over US spying.
The Germans are furious over CIA operations in the country which hav been found by German investigators in recent weeks. This comes on the back of continued public outrage over the exposure last year of widespread US surveillance programs whose targets included Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A spokesman for the German government, Steffen Seibert, confirmed the expulsion of the CIA station chief made clear Berlin regards US espionage efforts as a breach of trust. Seibert said that continued cooperation between the two countries would require “mutual trust and openness. The Federal Government continues to be ready for this and expects the same from its closest partners.”
The United States’ antics point at risk the close co-operation between German and US spooks. What is amusing is that in having the US spook leave, Germany resorted to a form of retaliation that is occasionally employed by espionage adversaries such as the United States and Russia, but rarely by such a close ally. In fact, defence analysts cannot think of a single time this has happened before, but then the idea of the US spying on its close allies in that way has never happened before either.
The US does not seem particularly concerned, after all since the end of the Cold War it is the ruling super power. One US spook sniffed that before ordering him out, Germany “had to make a calculation of what they were going to lose — they get a substantial amount of intelligence from us.”
But it seems to be a little more than a “reaction against Snowden leaks” thing. The decision to ask the CIA station chief came after German authorities carried out raids at an apartment and an office in Berlin as part of a reported investigation of a person with ties to the German military who is suspected of working for US intelligence.
Last week, German police arrested a 31-year-old employee of the German foreign intelligence agency, the BND, who is accused of selling secrets to the CIA.