The Washington Post carried a truly revelatory story by Greg Miller in its December 29 editions, although the story perhaps failed to generate as much attention as it should have. Some of the neglect may have been a product of its publication between Christmas and New Year’s, but a larger share is surely attributable to the inconvenience of its content. The headline was “Backlash in Berlin over NSA spying recedes as threat from Islamic State rises,” but, as they say, that ain’t the half of it.
The critical detail is that the German government has been passing names, email addresses, and cell phone numbers to US intelligence in order to track and investigate German citizens who have gone to the Middle East and may have joined al Qaeda or the Islamic State — with a key question being whether they intend to return to Germany and perpetrate attacks there.
Miller’s account cited senior German and US officials anonymously, which is unsurprising given the sensitive nature of the activity. Nevertheless, it seems a fairly authoritative indication that far from having deteriorated as a result of the furor in Germany over the Snowden revelations about US snooping, intelligence cooperation between the two countries is closer than ever. Continue reading