The German government appears to have reached the breaking point over US espionage in the country and has now ejected the CIA Station Chief in Berlin – a move generally not done by friendly nations and represents a considerable deterioration of US-German relations.
Earlier this year it was revealed by Edward Snowden that the NSA had been spying on Germany, even tapping Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s phone. More recently it was revealed that the CIA recruited a member of one of Germany’s intelligence services, the BND, to be a double agent. The double agent was arrested last week.
Germany is not part of the now notorious Five Eyes intelligence network that is made up of the UK and former colonies of the British Empire and many Germans, including those in the federal government, seem to be genuinely surprised at the pervasiveness of US intelligence operations and surveillance in their country.
Former U.S. officials said the agency pulled back on certain spying operations last year amid concern about the fallout from information leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. At the same time, the former officials said, the latest arrest and raids indicate that Germany has stepped up its defenses and efforts to root out U.S. spies.
Even before the expulsion, U.S. officials said espionage-related frictions with Germany had hurt diplomatic relations with an ally that the United States has relied on for support in a number of security matters, including efforts to contain Russian aggression in Ukraine.
The German Parliament is currently conducting an investigation into US intelligence operations directed at Germany and one of the matters the BND double agent is alleged to have been providing the CIA with information on was the progress of that investigation.
While World War II is not a distant memory for some, contemporary Germany seems to be far from a threat to American national security. In fact, Germany provided troops to the US/NATO mission in Afghanistan. So why all the spying? What has Germany done to deserve such disrespectful treatment?