The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution faces growing pressure to step up its counterespionage measures.
October 31, 2013 By Jörg Diehl – Spiegel.de
Amid the continuing NSA scandal, the German intelligence community is being pushed to do more to counter US spying. But with limited resources and a complex bureaucracy, that may not be easy.
The assertion on the part of Germany's counterintelligence agencies that they knew nothing of the US' spying has met with disbelief. Some are now calling for these authorities to step up their counterespionage efforts and take a close look at what their allies' intelligence agencies are doing. This begs the question, however, of where exactly to find the staff and funding for such measures. Budgets are limited and there is already a high priority -- also a result of considerable political pressure -- placed on the target areas of terrorism and right-wing extremism.
Another aspect that experts find problematic is the fragmented, federal structure of German counterintelligence. In addition to the BFV, the Military Counterintelligence Service (MAD), the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) -- Germany's foreign intelligence agency -- and the country's 16 state-level counterparts to the BFV likewise have areas of nominal jurisdiction. But these latter organizations in particular rarely have enough personnel to put up much resistance to enemy agencies.
German federal-level counterintelligence agents have tried to deal with this chaos by holding regular conferences. In late 2012, the various agencies agreed to meet and make joint decisions four times a year, either at the BFV's headquarters in Cologne or at the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) in nearby Meckenheim. So far, though, not much has come of that plan, says one person who was present when the agreement was reached.