Is this more “smart power” in action?
The German government on Monday confirmed that a previously reported operation targeting potential American eavesdropping facilities located on German soil took place at the end of August. Both a spokesperson for Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Interior Ministry admitted on Monday that a Federal Police helicopter had conducted a low-altitude flyover of the United States Consulate in Frankfurt in order to take high-resolution photographs. The apparent aim of the mission was to identify suspected listening posts on the roof of the consulate.
According to the newsmagazine Focus, the Eurocopter circled over the US representation at an altitude of just 60 meters (200 feet). The magazine quoted an unnamed government official stating that Germany wanted to send a message to the Americans that it would not tolerate eavesdropping technologies on German soil. “The message to the American friends was meant to be: Stop. Germany strikes back!” The flyover was first reported last week by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.
“Germany strikes back!” Yikes.
This wasn’t some low-level flyboy going rogue.
The report in Focus claims that the Frankfurt operation was ordered by Ronald Pofalla, Merkel’s chief of staff and the German government point man for intelligence services. The politician, a member of Merkel’s conservative CDU party, has made extensive public comments suggesting that the NSA affair has passed. But the report suggested he was furious at reports of spying technology at US diplomatic outposts in Germany.