ALL THE CHANCELLOR’S MEN
Today, Wednesday 8 July at 1800 CEST, WikiLeaks publishes three NSA intercepts of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with a list of 56 National Security Agency (NSA) target selectors for the Chancellor and the Chancellery. It lists not only confidential numbers for the Chancellor, but also for her top officials, her aides, her chief of staff, her political office and even her fax machine. The combined German NSA target lists released by WikiLeaks so far shows the NSA explicitly targeted for long-term surveillance 125 phone numbers for top German officials and did so for political and economic reasons, according to its own designations.
The intercepts published today show that the most senior levels of the US Executive were appraised of Chancellor Merkel’s plans on how to respond to the international financial crisis and the Eurozone bank bailout. Her private views about Obama’s engagement with Iran were also intercepted as she spoke to the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Shaykh Muhammad bin Zayid al-Nuhayyan.
The target list includes almost two dozen targeted telephone numbers at the federal agency (German: Bundeskanzleramt) that serves the executive office of the Chancellor, surrounding the Chancellor in a web of surveillance. The intensive nature of US targeting around the Chancellor explains why the White House could easily commit to not targeting Angela Merkel personally in the future, but continues to refuse to make such a commitment for other members of the German government – the Chancellor cannot run the government by talking to herself.
The list of selectors that are targeted include several cell phone numbers, including the Vodafone number for Chancellor Merkel that was in use through 2013. The Vodafone number for former head of the Chancellery from 2009 to December 2013 (and therefore ultimately in charge of the BND for that time, which was through the start of the Snowden revelations), Ronald Pofalla, is also on the list. Pofalla stated on 12 August 2013 after the Snowden documents first surfaced that “the US side offered us a no-spy agreement”; however, since then it has become clear this is not the case.