Focus: Secret Intelligence Agencies

The Parliamentary Enquiry Committee and the Intelligence Agencies – an introduction
by Wolf-Dieter Narr
The scandals concerning the NSA (National Security Agency) and previously the NSU (National Socialist Underground) have again raised the question: Who guards the internal security and who protects us from the guardians? Compared with the previous enquiry committees, the NSU commission takes a rather critical view and provides much material. However, the committee does not challenge the system of undercover informants and the intelligence agencies in general.

After the NSU scandal: More power for the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV)
by Martina Kant
The BfV played a significant part in the scandal about the National Socialist Underground (NSU). As a reaction to the scandal, however, the Federal Minister of the Interior and the conference of Interior Ministers even try to enlarge the powers of the BfV and to strengthen its role in the network of domestic intelligence. It is planned to strengthen the BfV’s function as coordinator and central office towards the Länder agencies and to develop a central database of undercover informants.

Better control of Intelligence Agencies?
by Norbert Pütter
The review of the NSU scandal showed both the failure of police and intelligence agencies, and the insufficient control of intelligence agencies. The parliamentary enquiry committee as a whole and the parliamentary groups in their separate votes thus submitted proposals for the improvement of parliamentary control of domestic intelligence agencies. They are however half-hearted and rather legitimise the increasing role of the intelligence services.

New direction for the Intelligence Services of the Länder
by Heiner Busch
The NSU scandal has led to a loss of legitimacy also of the Länder’s intelligence agencies. Northrhine-Westphalia and Bremen have already passed new bills on their „offices for the protection of the constitution“, the government of Thuringia has presented a draft. They try to raise the profile of their agencies by presenting them as quasi-educational institutions. Parliamentary control committees work more openly but secret surveillance and the use of undercover informants are going on.

Strategic surveillance by the Federal Intelligence Service
by Jürgen Scheele
The parliamentary control committee of the Bundestag annually publishes data about strategic surveillance of telecommunication (mainly fibre optic cables) by the foreign intelligence service (BND). The evaluation of reports for 2002-2012 shows increasing surveillance alongside decreasing relevance of hits. There is also an increasing risk of comprehensive monitoring („full take“) of telecommunication.
State of surveillance: The NSA Files and the global fightback
by Ben Hayes
One year after the beginning of the revelations by ex-NSA-contractor Edward Snowden, Ben Hayes looks back and provides an overview of what we have learned about mass surveillance of global internet and telecommunication traffic by western intelligence agencies, puts it into a wider political-economic context and discusses chances for a fightback.

Beyond the focus

Ceuta and Melilla: a forgotten border
Interview with Peio Aierbe
While the EU tries to seal its external borders, the Moroccan government started a fierce repression against sub-saharian refugees, says Peio Aierbe from SOS-racismo/Mugak. Facing this double pressure, more and more Africans risk their lives by climbing the barb-wired double fences that surround the two Spanish cities in Africa or trying to reach them swimming through the sea. On 6 February 2014, 15 persons drowned, when the Guardia Civil fired rubber bullets against them. 23 others who reached the shore of Ceuta, were immediately pushed back to Morocco.

Eurodac reloaded
by Brigitta Kuster und Vassilis S. Tsianos
Since 2003 fingerprints of asylum seekers and irregular migrants are being collected and collated in Eurodac. The new Eurodac regulation from 2013 puts the database under the management of the new EU IT-Agency. The regulation strengthens Eurodac’s role as an instrument in asylum and migration control. It also allows Europol and the law enforcement agencies of EU member states access to the database.

Political police and the assessment of right wing violence
by Mark Holzberger
The NSU scandal confirmed once again that the state security departments of the police (comparable to British Special Branches) have their difficulties to recognize and assess right-wing crime. In 2001 a new definition system for „politically motivated crime“ was introduced, which has proven unsuitable especially for hate crime. Political sensitivity concerning left-wing crime is significantly greater than towards right-wing crime. There are still no criteria in place to assess anti-muslim and antiziganist offences.

Domestic projects of the Grand Coalition
by Mark Holzberger
The Grand Coalition’s main response to the scandal about the National Socialist Underground (NSU) is to strengthen the role and powers of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV). Neither the Federal Intelligence Service (Bundesnachrichtendienst – BND) nor the cooperation of German Intelligence Agencies and the NSA are mentioned in the coalition agreement. Instead of promoting better data protection the coalition propagates more surveillance.