The book by Gert Polli,1 former chief of secret service of Austria, was already briefly presented in Current Concerns No 22/23 on 12 September 2017. This is now a brief assessment of individual aspects. In his preface, Polli notes that the EU is in a downward spiral, trapped in it, and this is to be ascribed to its own failure. The EU adheres uncritically and at all costs to the transatlantic link. The American National Security Agency (NSA) is the sole beneficiary of this development, which the European elite has not yet been able to admit today. Moreover, the non-critical takeover of foreign policy objectives of the US leads the EU close to a political and economic confrontation with Russia. Geopolically the EU goes by the US into an economic and political cul-de-sac in which the US declares Russia a clear enemy. As a most prominent example, Polli is stating the factual enforced conformity and control of European secret services under the dominance of Americans. Under the guise of American counter-terrorism, the EU is losing momentum and increasingly denies its own values: “The European Union is fallen into the worst crisis since its existence. It’s threatened to decay.” (p. 14)
In the foreword, Gert Polli sums up in a striking way what he explains and substantiates on the following pages in detail and comprehensibly to the citizens. Although Polli generally talks about the role of the EU, the question of why Germany has fallen between the fronts is explicitly repeated. The well legible and understandable book is divided into 17 chapters and a detailed appendix.
Two central topics are supposed to be discussed here:
• The attack of American secret services on the German economy and
• the failure of the German secret services to defend against it.
In recent years American courts have massively inflicted fines on German flagship companies such as Siemens, VW and Deutsche Bank among others. Coincidence? Not for Polli. For him, Germany is the preferred destination for American economic espionage, because it is the largest economy in the EU. As a high-tech site, it regularly files the highest number of patents at the European Patent Office (EPO) compared to other European countries. The NSA scandal revealed that German industry was and is under massive economic espionage. Chancellor Merkel reacted to the Snowden revelations with the well-known “spying among friends is not on”. On the other hand, the Federal Association of German Industry (BDI) shares the concern that “targeted economic and industrial espionage is committed”. (p. 58) All previous German investigations into the NSA affair were petered out, because it cannot be what must not be.
Why were the American attacks possible at all? The formula is relatively simple. German companies are monitored by the American secret services worldwide in their international business. They operate with the usual perks and bribes, as they are also common at Boeing, McDonell Douglas, Lockheed, and without them a larger contract comes hardly into being. One may be sorry for this corruption, it is not denied even in the US. It is frankly acknowledged that contracts worth multimillions can only be concluded through illegal payments. This is where the US Secret Services come into play. They only uncover the misconduct of German companies via intercepted telephone calls and e-mails. Their findings are passed to American courts, German companies are accused and sentenced to high fines. American companies remain unmolested in the same crimes, because the German secret services simply lack any reciprocal tool “to convict American companies the same business practice. It is difficult to understand why German intelligence service pays so little attention to this phenomenon of economic espionage large-scale.” (p. 69) However, the damage to the German economy is far greater than the draconian financial penalties. The middle and upper management was sentenced to lengthy prison terms, not just the sales management. This bloodletting bleeds out the companies, and it often takes up to ten years for the offspring to be worked in.
In the Cold War Germany became a front state and the most important site for US intelligence services in Europe and it has remained like this to this day. Already in the first post-war years the Allied Forces under the leadership of the United States established a nationwide network to monitor all postal and telecommunications traffic. The United States was also the Godfather in the construction of the security authorities. They pursued American interests, not German. They set up an imperative division of intelligence services and police authorities. The emergence of an overly efficient, centrally controlled German authority should be prevented. This has already been comitted in 1949. Under this structural decision, German security continues to suffer:
• The intelligence services are strictly prohibited from all police powers,
• The police are prohibited from conducting any intelligence investigations,
• A personal union between secret services and the police is prohibited.
This separation does not exist in any other country in the world, which is fatal. Also for Gert Polli, this “birth defect” is the cause of the numerous mishaps in Germany, be it the RAF (Red Army Fraction), the NSU (Nationalist Socialist Underground) or the fight against terrorism. The police must not investigate in case of state’s protection and the secret services must not seize anybody. In addition, the police is not nationwide organised, but is bound to the federal structure of Germany’s countries. This led to numerous breakdowns in the transmission and coordination of data. It remains to be seen whether the newly established federal police, which emerged from the federal Border Guard, is a symbiosis between secret services and police.
Germany is between the fronts, writes Polli. It is hardly clear to the citizens how the secret services have become the spearhead of global change. The year 2017 was the year of destiny in security policy. In illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc., American drones are controlled by the US-military base Ramstein in Germany. Based in Bad Aibling, the uncontrolled monitoring of the telephones and the internet in Germany takes place. Starting from Leipzig, large American troops are redeployed to enter the war zones and to get close to the border of Russia. “Germany is preparing for a time in which social unrest is seen as a probable scenario on the part of the government.” (p. 259) With his impressive book Gert Polli brings light and enlightenment to the darkness of the veilings.
It is up to us as citizens not to allow to be forced into a fight against each other, but to enter into an open dialogue in order to resolve the problems that are to come. •
1 Polli, Gert R. Deutschland zwischen den Fronten: Wie Europa zum Spielball von Politik und Geheimdiensten wird, (Germany between the fronts: How Europe becomes the plaything of politics and secret services) Munich 2017
(Translation Current Concerns)
rs. Not yet discussed in Polli’s book is the recent Airbus scandal. If, in the current bribe affair, European aircraft manufacturer is found guilty before European courts, the financial damage is immense. However, there are now clear indications that the CIA has also informed US courts and is working on an indictment. Airbus would then lose lucrative orders in series to Boeing and forfeit its leading position in the global market.
Siemens has announced to cut thousands of jobs in the turbine business and to completely close down German sites. They are supposed to be partly transferred to the US works in Orlando and Charlotte, because there it is cheaper to produce than in Germany and the US punitive tariffs can be eliminated. Obviously, the former German giant Siemens is bowing under pressure by the US.
rs. Just a few words on the neutrality of Austria and Switzerland as anchored in their constitutions. Both, like Germany, have long been part of the US surveillance infrastructure in Europe. But what role do the communications intercept stations play in Austria and Switzerland? So far, there has been little public discussion in both neutral countries on the espionage activity of US Secret Services. In Austria, the National Security Agency (NSA) operates at least satellite reconnaissance in Burgenland in close contact to Bratislava. The site is known under the name of Königswarte. In Switzerland there is a similar facility in the municipality Leuk on the Valais Plateau. It was founded 2012 by the Signalhorn AG, operated by Swisscom and has now changed its name several times. Scarcely known, as Polli writes, is that there are two separate stations, the smaller ones – completely legal – of the Confederates and the much larger one of the NSA in the service of the US.
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