Germany expels US embassy official over spying row

posted at 10:01 am on July 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

The rift between Germany and the US grew deeper today as Angela Merkel’s government declared an American embassy official persona non grata and ordered his expulsion from the country. The official, an intelligence attaché who may or may not be the CIA’s station chief, provides the Germans a public target for their retribution after a second US spy was uncovered in the past few days:

A 31-year-old German intelligence official was arrested last week on suspicion of spying.

Reports on Wednesday said an inquiry had also begun into a German soldier.

“The German government has demanded that the American intelligence representative here in Germany leave the country,” said Clemens Binninger, an MP with the ruling Christian Democrat party.

One German legislator described the official to Europe Online Magazine as the CIA’s station chief in Berlin, although that will be a little difficult to confirm for obvious reasons [Update below]:

The chief US Central Intelligence Agency officer in Germany is to be expelled in a sign of Berlin‘s anger at two cases of possible US espionage uncovered in the past week, a senior German legislator said Thursday.

Earlier in the day, The Hill had noted the deterioration in US-German relations:

Relations between the United States and Germany sank to new depths on Wednesday as accusations emerged that a second German might have been slipping secrets to Washington.

The charge rubbed salt into wounds first opened by revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) had eavesdropped on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone — a practice President Obama has renounced. …

Merkel has said reports that a German agent was handing information to the CIA, if true, would be a “clear contradiction” of trust between the two nations.

Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier added that the U.S.’s involvement in spying would make it “impossible for the political community to simply return to business as usual.”

U.S. Ambassador John Emerson has reportedly met with German officials multiple times in recent days to discuss the charges, and could be back for additional tongue-lashings if more revelations emerge.

Apparently, today is that day. The initial reports of a single spy were bad enough after the phone-tapping scandal last year, but suspicions that the US ran another mole within German intelligence forced Merkel into a diplomatic reaction:

News Wednesday that Germany is investigating new allegations that the United States bought secrets from a German official _ the second such probe to become public in a week _ delivered another blow to U.S.-German relations over what is now a year-old scandal of American spying on an ally.

“The American secret services are completely out of control,” said Hans-Christian Stroebele, the most senior member of Germany’s parliamentary committee investigating the National Security Agency’s activities in Germany. “They seem to think they are allowed to do everything, even in Germany.”

The most recent allegations revolve around NSA efforts to determine what Stroebele’s committee has learned. Last week, German authorities reportedly arrested a member of Germany’s foreign intelligence service for allegedly passing documents to the United States about Stroebele’s committee. Wednesday, the focus of the new investigation was a German military official.

Stroebele said the new spying efforts _ a year after it was revealed that the United States had tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone and that the NSA was sweeping up millions of emails _ would prove costly to what had been a strong relationship between the nations.

One has to assume that the Germans are not so blinded by outrage here as the public stances might suggest, as they know well how the intelligence game is played. The French have been stealing industrial secrets for years, even though the two nations work much more closely together on the EU project than the US and Germany do in other areas. When these details about business-as-usual get made embarrassingly public, it forces everyone to make a public show of the outrage.

Removing a key link in the partnership through the mechanism of a diplomatic expulsion, though, goes a bit farther than contrived outrage. That’s a step one would expect to see between two antagonists, or two loosely-affiliated nations, not between close partners like the US and Germany. This may at least temporarily disrupt some of the intelligence sharing that has become key to Western security. Germany apparently feels that the risk of disruption is worth taking, which is a measure of their non-contrived anger over the revelations. Plus, Germany is probably going to conduct a mole-hunt or two, which will distract their intelligence services and potentially impact their effectiveness, and that’s bad news all over.

Normally, we’d see a tit-for-tat expulsion after this kind of move, but the Obama administration will likely let this slide. The US and Germany have too many common security interests to allow for a really serious breach to develop, and there should be some leeway given to Merkel under the circumstances. So far, the White House is keeping their collective lips sealed:

They’d be wise to let this blow over and replace the expelled attaché quickly.

Update: The Washington Post also says it’s the CIA station chief in Berlin:

Germany took the dramatic step Thursday of asking the top U.S. intelligence official in Berlin to leave the country, following two reported cases of suspected U.S. spying and the yearlong spat over eavesdropping by the National Security Agency.

The move reflects growing impatience in Germany at what is perceived as U.S. nonchalance about being caught spying on a close ally.

“The representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the United States embassy has been asked to leave Germany,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.

“The request occurred against the backdrop of the ongoing investigation by federal prosecutors as well as the questions that were posed months ago about the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany,” he said. “The government takes the matter very seriously.”

That’s going to sting a bit.


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Brought to you by the same smart power geniuses that somehow cost us Great Britain as an ally.

JeremiahJohnson on July 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM

Just a part of the plan.

Deano1952 on July 10, 2014 at 10:12 AM

Dog Eater will counter by sending back his autographed copy of “Mein Kampf”, though he expects it to be returned next month, he simply has too many highlighted sections to give it up for good.

Bishop on July 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM

So far, the White House is keeping their collective lips sealed:

YouTube….

no…

Hard drive crash…

no…..

Those damn Republicans….

Global Warming!!!!!

They will say something soon..

Electrongod on July 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM

Were I Merkel, I’d be demanding a televised apology from Kerry, insisting that he admit that the US stole secrets in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM

Dog Eater will counter by sending back his autographed copy of “Mein Kampf”, though he expects it to be returned next month, he simply has too many highlighted sections to give it up for good.

Bishop on July 10, 2014 at 10:13 AM

I’d love to hack the moron’s teleprompter. I bet he really will read ANYTHING that is written on it, even if I made it say “I will resign the Presidency effective Noon tomorrow”

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM

SOP

formwiz on July 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM

“Ich bin ein Versager*.” -Herr obozo

*failure

Flange on July 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Were I Merkel, I’d be demanding a televised apology from Kerry, insisting that he admit that the US stole secrets in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM

That’s JenJis Khan to you, peasant.

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

This guy 0 is certainly a pro at one thing. Alienating all.

Bmore on July 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Oopsie

cmsinaz on July 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM

Obama is a total embarrassment.

Left’s response: How can you fault Obama for being suspicious of an Axis power?

BuckeyeSam on July 10, 2014 at 10:18 AM

That’s JenJis Khan to you, peasant.

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

My seventeen year-old daughter used to call me “peasant”. Now she calls me “hobbit”. I’m 6’2″, but still I like it.

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Brilliant

Heibao on July 10, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Were I Merkel, I’d be demanding a televised apology from Kerry, insisting that he admit that the US stole secrets in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:16 AM

That’s JenJis Khan to you, peasant.

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:17 AM

Actually it Dschinghis Khan, and there was a outlandishly great German rock band with this name in the 80-ies.

Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I’m sorry, I can’t help but laugh. Is our president the best or what?

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Obama obviously believes that all white people in Germany are still Nazis.

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:19 AM

I think it is adorable also. You don’t have weird feet do you?

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Brought to you by the same smart power geniuses that somehow cost us Great Britain as an ally.

JeremiahJohnson on July 10, 2014 at 10:10 AM

And if the us didn’t spy you would be saying the exact same thing.

coolrepublica on July 10, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Angela Merkel: “Mit mir, ficken nicht.”

Conservative Mischief on July 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Angela Merkel: “Mit mir, ficken nicht.”

Conservative Mischief on July 10, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Who would?! Have you seen her?

Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:28 AM

Actually it Dschinghis Khan, and there was a outlandishly great German rock band with this name in the 80-ies.

Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

My favorite German band from the 80′s is Kraftwerk.

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

The French have been stealing industrial secrets for years…

Which has what to do exactly with espionage against a foreign government? What exactly would the U.S. think/do if an NSA operative and a member of U.S. military intelligence were passing to a foreign intelligence service classified information about an investigation being conducted by a Congressional committee?

I don’t know why it’s so difficult to believe a duck is a duck without trying to show how clever we are by trotting out the old “tsk, tsk, we all know how these things are, old boy.”

But, on to another point. The Administration’s response is that this is a “purported” intelligence matter? They can’t even say “no comment” without adding a dig?

Can we expect the President to assure us that there’s not a “smidgen” of fire behind this smoke, after he’s finished his burger and beer? That should put the Germans in their place and make us all feel just swell.

IndieDogg on July 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

I think it is adorable also. You don’t have weird feet do you?

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Is parting them on the left weird?

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Actually it Dschinghis Khan, and there was a outlandishly great German rock band with this name in the 80-ies.

Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

That is truly outlandishly funny stuff. They’re like a German Village People.

Flange on July 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

USA: Is there something wrong?
Germany: Will you stop spying on us?
USA: Me! You started it!
Germany: We did not start it!
USA: Yes you did — you invaded Poland.:

connertown on July 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

http://www.breakingnews.com/topic/report-of-us-mining-internet-company-data/

Germany
10m
White House declines comment on Germany’s request that US intelligence official leave Germany; says it is essential that US cooperation with Germany continues – @Reuters
============================

End of alert
Berlin, Berlin, DE
1h
US CIA official at embassy in Berlin has been asked to leave the country, German Chancellor Angela Merkel spokesman says – @BloombergTV, @Reuters

canopfor on July 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Whadda ya say Angie, Baby? We keep the Embassy official and send you Obama and to sweeten the deal we’ll send Biden with him!

Herb on July 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

My favorite German band from the 80′s is Kraftwerk.

ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

My daughter’s favorite, too. Kraftwerk is still alive, and gave a concert in New Jersey quite recently, which she attended. Same great nois… eh, I mean music.

Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:31 AM

Bummer… – King Choom The Magnificent I

workingclass artist on July 10, 2014 at 10:32 AM

So who’s gonna field this one???

Jen Hashtag or that Herf broad.

Should be a laugh riot either way.

BigWyo on July 10, 2014 at 10:34 AM

https://twitter.com/markknoller

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 52m

NSC’s @CaitlinHayden calls US/German intell cooperation “essential.” And says US will be in touch with Germany thru “appropriate channels.”

Replied to 0 times

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 54m

At the same time,. @nscpress stresses importance of US/German intelligence relationship. “It keeps Germans & Americans safe.”

Replied to 0 times

Mark Knoller @markknoller · 55m

WH/@NSCPress not commenting on Germany ordering US intelligence official to leave the country. Calls it “purported intelligence matter.”

canopfor on July 10, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I hope the countries he has alienated don’t believe all of us are like that.

crankyoldlady on July 10, 2014 at 10:40 AM

The Obama administration actually done more damage to our relations to our allies and made us the laughing stock of our enemies than any past president that I can recall. I would say it all started with his famous Cairo apology speech.

SC.Charlie on July 10, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Thank goodness Barry’s on the job, makin’ sure the world loves us.

dissent555 on July 10, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Give the “contrived” line a rest. It was just dumb then – now it’s dumb and annoying.

corona79 on July 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Oh no. Whatever shall we do (besides install a new CIA station chief?)

I’m sorry Germany, but out of any of our allies outside of the middle east – you deserve being spied on the most.

Signed,
Back to Back World War Champs

Defenestratus on July 10, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Alex, I’ll take government stupidity for 10,000 dollars.

The answer is: First Chicago then the nation now the world.

Question: What are things Obama has screwed up and made worse in the name of the progressive agenda?

We have a winner.

meci on July 10, 2014 at 10:51 AM

This expulsion is an outrageous act of defiance from a previously compliant ally. It should and will seriously harm relations. The Germans must have a reason for suddenly objecting to our longstanding huge intelligence activities in Berlin, maybe our most important and largest presence in continental Europe, and I’d like to hear what it might be. I’m betting a realignment with Russia, a renewal of traditional ties, is at the root of this.

MTF on July 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Pollard….

marks on July 10, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Immolate on July 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

No but down the middle is not allowed.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM

MTF on July 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

LOL. Really? You don’t see the arrogance of the Obama admin and it’s constant overreach in practically everything it does, plus the total lack of respect that has been displayed to our traditional allies during the past six years, as being a potential factor in Germany’s response?

lineholder on July 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

MTF on July 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

I’m hoping it is less serious and just piling on The Won. Now that would be fun.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 10:58 AM

MTF on July 10, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Agreed. But I think the more important question is what are we so interested in with Germany that Obama keeps spying on them even after he said he’ll stop.

Is this an actual investigation for the interests of America (say EU relations) or is this spying to further Obama’s personal goals (run interference on Merkel whom Obama does not like)

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Mole hunt! http://youtu.be/aO2t6LO9oLI

Seth Halpern on July 10, 2014 at 11:01 AM

That’s ok…Obama has been masquerading as a U.S. President for about 6 years now.

Cherokee on July 10, 2014 at 11:03 AM

Eight ball, side pocket!

rjoco1 on July 10, 2014 at 11:09 AM

This makes me smirk.

King, the moron, was just on, asking the gov’t for more clamping down on your freedom/liberty, with tools better than FB’s. Go to Hell all of you traitors in DC. Snowden s/b given a statue when he dies.

The Southern border is open and all worry about the spoof in Germany?

I’m laughing at all of you turkeys.

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 10:59 AM

This is one of those areas where Obama’s track record is going to hurt him. Even if he has a legitimate reason for this, who’s going to believe him? He has been wrong on almost everything.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

IS (formerly known as ISIS) is getting into the US via the open Southern border. I hope they cut of few media heads off.

The fools refuse to expose the open border security issue, in addition to the slave labor and child-abuse issues.

They no longer earn the liberties they have under the 1st Amendment and NO longer deserve them.

Schadenfreude on July 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

But he is doing such a marvelous job of regaining the World’s trust of us after George W. Bush ruined our reputation and status in the world community. Right, libiots??

bimmcorp on July 10, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Merkel better be careful, she’s awfully close to committing treason against Obama.

/MSNBC

Left Coast Right Mind on July 10, 2014 at 11:29 AM

“They’re obviously racists…”

—– Ogabe Propaganda Ministry, Brian Williams, kneepad coordinator

viking01 on July 10, 2014 at 11:32 AM

Another massive embarrassing failure brought to you by Liberals and their messiah.

Whitey Ford on July 10, 2014 at 11:32 AM

This is one of those areas where Obama’s track record is going to hurt him. Even if he has a legitimate reason for this, who’s going to believe him? He has been wrong on almost everything.
Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 11:17 AM

I certainly don’t believe him. In fact I’m inclined to believe the information is being relayed to Russia just as I’m sure our spies in Israel are passing intel to Hamas.

Lest we forget – it was the democrats that originally allied us with and supported the Taliban in the 1990s and are doing it again now!

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM

…with friends like us……..who needs enemies?

JugEarsButtHurt on July 10, 2014 at 11:59 AM

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 11:49 AM

That’s an interesting thought.

Cindy Munford on July 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM

They will say something soon..

Electrongod on July 10, 2014 at 10:14 AM

It’s all Boooooooooooooosh’s fault.

Quartermaster on July 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Removing a key link in the partnership through the mechanism of a diplomatic expulsion, though, goes a bit farther than contrived outrage. That’s a step one would expect to see between two antagonists, or two loosely-affiliated nations, not between close partners like the US and Germany.

I don’t think this is quite such a big deal. It’s not unusual for one nation to be caught spying on another. The usual response, if the nations are still largely friendly, is to expel the one caught spying.

That’s not to say it isn’t serious. Normally, very friendly nations would probably just protest privately, rather than make a public deal. But the real sign that Germany is not happy is that it’s announcing this publicly, not that an embassy official is being sent home.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 10, 2014 at 12:39 PM

What makes it a big deal is that the White House got caught doing it last year, denied it, then got caught in the lie and then Obama said he’d order the spying stopped.

Now here we are a year later and Germany says the spying hasn’t stopped, effectively calling Obama a liar and the White House has gone silent.

Germany is wrong or the US (the Obama administration) has proven itself untrustworthy with a close ally.

Spying happens – that’s not the issue. The issue is that Obama has created another diplomatic rift by promising to stop spying and then doing it anyway and at high levels of government . Dude didn’t even turn down the intensity of spying!

Again, if the Germans are correct, what was so important to US that we risked this kind of diplomatic damage as goodwill?

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 12:55 PM

When your government has become too pushy for the Germans, you know you’ve overstepped your bounds.

orangemtl on July 10, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Instead of pi$$ing off our allies in Germany by spying on them, why isn’t the CIA and NSA spying in places where it would be more useful, such as Russia, Iran, Pakistan, or North Korea?

Steve Z on July 10, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Obungle will probably just say the CIA was operating on its own and he just found about it from tv.

crankyoldlady on July 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

connertown on July 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Don’t mention the war!

Left Coast Right Mind on July 10, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Guys, you’re supposed to p!ss off our enemies, not our allies.

itsspideyman on July 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Please we spy on everybody and have plans to invade everybody.

When I attended the USAF’s “Contingency Wartime Planning Course” (their motto is “Think War, Plan on it“) we joked that the U.S. Military had contingency plans for invading Great Britain and the Vatican, later on we learned that it wasn’t a joke.

We spy on the Germans they spy on us. It’s a game and we just lost a point. I’m sure we’ll get it back later on.

E9RET on July 10, 2014 at 2:41 PM

E9RET on July 10, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Remember back when Germany scolded W for spying on them? Clinton? Bush I? Reagan? Carter? Ford? Nixon? Johnson? Kennedy? Eisenhower?

Now Truman I’m pretty sure did…

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Now Truman I’m pretty sure did…

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Reinhard Gehlen was active with CIA during Eisenhower but I’m not sure he was still around for Kennedy.

Some “Cold Warriors” now believe that Gehlen’s operation might have actually work for the Soviets as well as the U.S.

Like I said, we spy on everybody all the time

E9RET on July 10, 2014 at 3:12 PM

E9RET on July 10, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Reinhard Gehlen was a spy who was German who spied on the soviets.

I’m sure you knew that.

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Pass the popcorn, I think this is going to get even more entertaining.

earlgrey on July 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM

Germany expels US embassy official over spying row

Hey, we kicked your asses twice, don’t make us come back over there and do it again!

I’m kidding, I’m kidding!

But this whole of idea of entire countries being “friends” (or enemies for that matter) is pretty stupid if you think about it.

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 10, 2014 at 3:31 PM

This is the part where Obama and his merry band of idiots heal our status in the world right?

SMART Power!!!111!!!!elebinty strikes again.

jukin3 on July 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM

Forgot to add: Obama is going to madder than anybody when he reads about this in the newspapers. He is going to get to the bottom too. My guess is it is all the fault of the republicans.

jukin3 on July 10, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Reinhard Gehlen was a spy who was German who spied on the soviets.

I’m sure you knew that.

Skywise on July 10, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Well, also on the East Germans, but your main point is correct.

E9RET on July 10, 2014 at 4:41 PM

American spy caught in Merkel’s Germany … Obama is desperate to learn how to be a statesman and a leader.

NORUK on July 10, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Actually it Dschinghis Khan, and there was a outlandishly great German rock band with this name in the 80-ies.Rix on July 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM

My favorite German band from the 80′s is Kraftwerk.ConstantineXI on July 10, 2014 at 10:29 AM

Make mine Die Totenhosen, followed by Kraftwerk ;)

AH_C on July 10, 2014 at 6:15 PM

Removing a key link…That’s a step one would expect to see between two antagonists, or two loosely-affiliated nations, not between close partners like the US and Germany.

I remind you that Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard is in prison.

ss396 on July 11, 2014 at 9:47 AM

A sovereign, legitimate civilized nation expelling a diplomat for spying? Oh, shock! Horror! Distress! Catastrophe!

…give me a BREAK, folks, we freaking spy on every nation worth labeling on an atlas and if they’re a player on the world stage they spy on us right back.

LawfulGood on July 13, 2014 at 12:25 PM