| Barack Obama ‘approved tapping Angela Merkel’s phone 3 years ago!’

Barack Obama ‘approved tapping Angela Merkel’s phone 3 years ago’ ~  , New York and Louise Barnett in Berlin, The Telegraph.

President Barack Obama was told about monitoring of German Chancellor in 2010 and allowed it to continue, says German newspaper.

Obama 'approved tapping Merkel's phone 3 years ago'

Mr Obama was told of the secret monitoring of Mrs Merkel by General Keith Alexander, the head of the NSA, in 2010, according to Bild am Sonntag, a German newspaper.  Photo: AFP/GETTY

President Barack Obama was dragged into the trans-Atlantic spying row after it was claimed he personally authorised the monitoring of Angela Merkel’s phone three years ago.

The president allegedly allowed US intelligence to listen to calls from theGerman Chancellor’s mobile phone after he was briefed on the operation by Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency (NSA), in 2010.

The latest claim, reported in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, followed reports in Der Spiegel that the surveillance of Mrs Merkel’s phone began as long ago as 2002, when she was still the opposition leader, three years before being elected Chancellor. That monitoring only ended in the weeks before Mr Obama visited Berlin in June this year, the magazine added.

Citing leaked US intelligence documents, it also reported that America conducted eavesdropping operations on the German government from a listening post at its embassy beside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, one of more than 80 such centres worldwide.

Mr Obama’s European allies will now ask him to say what he personally knew about the NSA’s global eavesdropping operation and its targeting of world leaders, including those from friendly states. The White House declined to comment on the German media reports.

Last week, however, Mr Obama assured Mrs Merkel that her phone is not being monitored now – and will not be in future. But the US has pointedly declined to discuss the NSA’s actions in the past.

Its surveillance operations raises questions about whether US officials breached domestic laws. Hans-Peter Friedrich, the German interior minister, said: “If the Americans intercepted cellphones in Germany, they broke German law on German soil”. He noted that wiretapping was a crime in Germany and “those responsible must be held accountable”.

Even before the latest reports, German intelligence chiefs were preparing to travel to Washington this week to demand answers from the NSA about the alleged surveillance of Mrs Merkel.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, received a dose of European fury this weekend when he visited Paris and Rome. The trip was arranged to discuss the Middle East peace process, the Syrian civil war and Iran’s nuclear programme. Instead, he was confronted by outrage over the scale of US surveillance operations.

“The magnitude of the eavesdropping is what shocked us,” said Bernard Kouchner, a former French foreign minister, in a radio interview. “Let’s be honest, we eavesdrop too. Everyone is listening to everyone else. But we don’t have the same means as the United States, which makes us jealous.”

According to the leaked documents in Spiegel, NSA officials acknowledged that any disclosure of the existence of the foreign listening posts would lead to “grave damage” for US relations with other governments.

Such posts exist in 19 European cities, including Paris, Madrid, Rome and Frankfurt, according to the magazine, which has based its reports on documents provided by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.

Mr Obama did not comment, but Republican supporters of the US intelligence community began a fightback on the political talk-shows.

Mike Rogers, the chairman of the intelligence committee in the House of Representatives, said that America’s allies should be grateful for surveillance operations which targeted terrorist threats. “I would argue by the way, if the French citizens knew exactly what that was about, they would be applauding and popping champagne corks,” he told CNN’s State of the Union.

“It’s a good thing. it keeps the French safe. It keeps the US safe. It keeps our European allies safe.”

Peter King, a fellow Republican congressman, said that Mr Obama should not apologise for NSA operations in Europe. “The president should stop apologising, stop being defensive,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press. “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives not just in the United States but in France, Germany and throughout Europe. Quite frankly, the NSA has done so much for our country and so much for the president, he’s the commander in chief. He should stand with the NSA.”

John Schindler, a former NSA official, noted that planning for the terrorist attacks on Sept 11, 2001 had taken place in Hamburg.

“If 9/11 had happened to Germany and been planned in NY not Hamburg, I’d expect [German] intel to monitor USA top 2 bottom,” he wrote on Twitter.

A German intelligence official, quoted by Die Welt, said: “The Americans did not want to rely exclusively on us after September 11th. That is understandable.”

Another told the newspaper: “Without information from the Americans, there would have been successful terrorist attacks in Germany in the past years.”

More from The Telegraph

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ObLies1

| EU to hold Brussels summit amid US spying row!

EU to hold Brussels summit amid US spying row ~ BBC.

An EU summit is due to begin in Brussels with fresh allegations of US spying threatening to overshadow talks.

It comes a day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel called President Barack Obama over claims that the US had monitored her mobile phone.

France’s President Francois Hollande is pressing for the issue to be put on the agenda following reports that millions of French calls had been monitored.

EU leaders will also discuss Europe’s economic recovery and immigration.

BBC Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt says some leaders are likely to want to use the summit to demand further clarification from Washington over the activities of its National Security Agency (NSA) in Europe.

Angela Merkel uses mobile phone. (File image)
Angela Merkel has asked for an “immediate explanation” from the US.

EU summit agenda

Thursday

  • First session (18:15 local; 16:15 GMT): Digital economy, innovation and services – including the creation of a “digital single market” and improving ICT skills
  • Working dinner (20:15 local): Economic and social policy and the economic and monetary union – including youth unemployment, financing of the economy (in particular SMEs) and co-ordination of economic policies across the EU

Friday

  • Second session (10:00 local): Migratory flows and preparations for Eastern Partnership summit
  • News conference (tbc)

The US is being called to account by its allies over allegations of spying based on material said to originate from fugitive American leaker Edward Snowden.

Mrs Merkel says she wants US officials to clarify the extent of their surveillance in Germany.

Her spokesman said the German leader “views such practices… as completely unacceptable”.

Mrs Merkel demanded an “immediate and comprehensive explanation”, said Steffen Seibert in a statement.

“Among close friends and partners, as the Federal Republic of Germany and the US have been for decades, there should be no such monitoring of the communications of a head of government,” the statement added.

Veteran French EU Commissioner, Michel Barnier, told the BBC that “enough is enough”, and confidence in the US had been shaken.

Mr Barnier, the commissioner for internal market and services, said Europe must not be naive but develop its own strategic digital tools, such as a “European data cloud” independent of American oversight.

The BBC’s Stephen Evans in Berlin says Germany’s morning papers echo a sense of outrage.

A front-page commentary in Thursday’s Suddeutscher Zeitung – one of the country’s most respected papers – refers to the “biggest affront”.

It says an attack on Angela Merkel’s mobile phone would be an attack on “her political heart”.

White House spokesman Jay Carney confirmed that President Obama had “assured” Chancellor Merkel that the US was not monitoring her phone.

The White House said President Obama had told Mrs Merkel that the US was not monitoring her calls and would not in the future.

However, it left open the question of whether calls had been listened to in the past.

State-monitoring of phone calls has a particular resonance in Germany – Mrs Merkel herself grew up in East Germany, where phone-tapping was pervasive.

In July, German media carried comments by Edward Snowden suggesting the US National Security Agency worked closely with Germany and other Western states on a “no questions asked” basis, monitoring Germans’ internet traffic, emails and phone calls.

“They [the NSA] are in bed with the Germans, just like with most other Western states,” Mr Snowden was quoted as saying by Der Spiegel magazine – though Mrs Merkel denied any knowledge of the collaboration.

In June, President Obama assured Chancellor Merkel that German citizens were not being routinely spied upon. At the time, she was criticised by her political opponents for not being more sceptical.

Meanwhile, a major focus of the summit will be to boost the digital economy – seen as vital for growth – while UK Prime Minister David Cameron will want red tape cut for businesses.


Discussions on telecoms, copyright, data protection, credit card payments and digital signatures can appear dry but are all central to what potentially will be the fastest growing economic sector in the future.”

image of Gavin Hewitt
Gavin Hewitt Europe editor

With markets becalmed, Spain coming out of recession and Ireland soon to exit its bailout programme, there are signs of progress for Europe’s leaders to celebrate, says our correspondent.

But they recognise that the recovery is fragile and solid growth is needed.

One of the key initiatives of the European Commission is its Digital Agenda for Europe, which it says “aims to reboot Europe’s economy and help Europe’s citizens and businesses to get the most out of digital technologies”.

Council officials say investment in the digital economy is vital to boost growth. They want to address market fragmentation and a perceived shortage in IT skills.

They may also discuss telecoms reform, data protection and a cap on credit card payments.

Mr Cameron is likely to use the economic discussion to raise what Britain sees as a proliferation of red tape.

He said last week: “All too often EU rules are a handicap for firms,” and that small business owners “are forced to spend too much time complying with pointless, burdensome and costly regulations”.

The European Commission – which makes the rules – has recognised that it may have gone too far in some places.

Shop owner Roger George says red tape and regulations are a burden on his business.

President Jose Manuel Barroso says he wants the EU to be “big on big things and smaller on smaller things”.

He says the Commission has cut more than 5,000 legal acts in the past five years and wants to do more.

On Friday the leaders will discuss relations with central European countries, ahead of a November summit at which new agreements will be signed.

Migration will also be discussed, following the loss of hundreds of lives among migrants trying to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

The commission has called on EU countries to offer “additional and urgent contributions” to prevent further tragedies at sea.

It wants greater resources to survey and patrol sea routes, but also a more co-ordinated approach to dealing with migrants.

Countries on the Mediterranean coast deal with sudden and unmanageable mass arrivals, but the countries which approve most asylum requests are Germany, France and Sweden.

The commission wants a more even resettlement of refugees.

EU sources say the leaders are likely to promise improved co-operation, but not more money or resources. They say they first want a new surveillance effort, Eurosur, to come into force, to see what effect it has.

Related Stories

| Germany Integration Debate: Merkel Urges More Tolerance Towards Muslims!

Integration Debate: Merkel Urges More Tolerance Towards Muslims ~ Spiegel Online International.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on her fellow citizens to exercise more tolerance toward the country’s 4 million Muslims, stating that Islam is part of Germany. People, she said, need to be careful to differentiate between extremists and the religion itself.

Germany should be more tolerant of its Muslims, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday night, calling the religion part of the country’s makeup.

“We should be very open about this and say: Yes, this is part of us,” Merkel said during a teleconference with some 7,000 members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union party.

In view of the violent protests that have taken place in recent weeks across the Muslim world against a controversial anti-Islam film and offensive Muhammad caricatures, Merkel said Germans should be careful to differentiate between Islamists and the religion itself. “We must be incredibly careful that we don’t lump everyone together,” the chancellor said. “The Islamists are not the Islam of Germany.”

Indeed, the majority of the around 4 million Muslims living in Germany have distanced themselves from the violence abroad, Merkel said, adding that those who refuse to recognize the country’s laws can naturally expect to face legal consequences.

Tunisia Trip Cancelled

Merkel’s open reception to Islam comes some two years after she was criticized for fanning the flames of the country’s immigration debate by saying that the multicultural concept had “failed utterly.” During that same speech in Oct. 2010, however, the chancellor did voice support for a widely discussed statement made just weeks before by then-President Christian Wulff, who said that Islam was “part of Germany.”

Wulff’s comments have been half-heartedly echoed by his successor Joachim Gauck, who said in May that while he wouldn’t apply the same statement, he could “embrace the intention.”

Recently the integration debate has intensified once again following a Cologne court ruling that found circumcision for religious reasons to be an indictable offense. The decision has been viewed as an affront to the country’s Muslim and Jewish communities. Just this week, the Justice Ministry presented a draft lawclarifying that the procedure is not a punishable offense.

Ahead of Merkel’s statements on Islam on Wednesday, the Chancellery announced that a planned visit to Tunisia next month had been cancelled due to the tense security situation there following violent protests against the US-produced film “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet Muhammad. Earlier this month, protesters in Sudan set the German embassy on fire.

A minaret and a church tower in Berlin's Kreuzberg district. Zoom

A minaret and a church tower in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district.

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| Now Israel thanks Germany’s Merkel for sixth Dolphin submarine!

Israel thanks Germany’s Merkel for sixth Dolphin submarine

Israel thanked German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday for selling the country its sixth Dolphin submarine at a subsidized price.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a thank you letter to Merkel, saying the upgraded vessel would “help us address Israel’s immense defence needs during these turbulent times and will contribute greatly to the long-term security of the Jewish state,” his spokesman, Mark Regev, told dpa.

Israel and Germany signed the contract for the purchase Wednesday during a ceremony at the Israeli ambassador’s residence in Berlin, in the presence of Defence Minister Ehud Barak and German State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Defense Rudiger Wolf, a government statement said.

 

 

Barak said the agreement “reflects the depth of Israel and Germany’s relationship, as well as the German government’s clear commitment to the state of Israel’s security.”

The Israeli Globes business daily reported the submarine will be delivered by 2018. At delivery, it will be one of the most advanced submarines in the world, and will be the most expensive weapon procured by the Israel Defence Forces, at a cost of 400 million euros. Germany will finance a third of the cost, it said.

Israel currently has three submarines in its fleet, it said. The fourth and fifth Dolphin submarines are in advanced stages of construction in German shipyards and scheduled to arrive in mid-2013 and in the second half of 2014.

TREND.

 

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

So Germany’s still giving far more bang for its buck than it should under the yoke of collective guilt from so long ago that Israel’s current modus operandi is being ignored.

And this matters to the world now because?

Make no mistake, Dolphins carry nukes!

And, arguably the most paranoid regime in history cravenly continues arming itself to the teeth evidently with a capacity to reach any world capital city – that’s right folks, you and I too can be in those belligerent cross-hairs.

More to the point, HOW can a pirate state with a stockpile of illegal nukes STILL whine about Iran’s nuclear fuel capacity reaching weaponisation one day WITHOUT ANY EVIDENCE, as the basis for launching war NOW?


And without so much as a say-so from anyone else?

Oh forget about Uncle Same’s disapproval or irksome details like a clearly-mandated Resolution from the United Nations Security Council – since when does that apply to the chosen?

More like its brazenly showing its not worth the trouble it causes!

Good neighbours don’t need fences much less weapons – they not only smell but SHARE the Qahwa with each other.

Mind, peaceful neighbours make perfect partners for peace!

 

No sane person wants MAD: mutually assured destruction, more so now than ever before, as history has shown how rational states learnt the weighty responsibilities of deterrence the hard way – denuclearisation is the only way to bequeath our children’s generation a world truly worth living in.

That Israel’s nuclear capacity be subject to IAEA monitoring and regulated with a view to denuclearise the entire region and world is a grave matter long, long overdue.