Snowden’s documents contained the phone number of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s older, private telephone — she quit using it in July 2013 (after Snowden) and switched to a modified Blackberry Z10.
Notably the older phone was also a “secure” model, which included a cryptographic chip to encrypt voice and SMS. (The new phone also encrypts email.)
The encryption technology in the older phone, a modified Nokia 6260, was likely broken by the NSA… and that same technology was in every cell phone used by German government employees until October of this year (i.e, now?).
At least, that was according to the conservative German paper “Die Welt.”
If you go by the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) — hailing from the country’s more American-friendly “Capital City of Crime” — you get a very different story.
According to that paper, the tapped phone was Merkel’s “party phone,” used for phone calls related to her Christian Democratic Union political party… and which she carried with her and used all the time.
The obvious attack here would have been to turn the “Merkel party phone” into a listening device and therefore render the voice encryption on the “official phone” partly irrelevant. There is no evidence, according to the FAZ, that this took place. Instead, suspicion falls on simple interception of the wireless signal.
QOTD: “Obama assured Merkel that she was not being spied on. Just as she was about to call.” https://twitter.com/Laser_Ulm/status/393081498300981249
It’s important to note that, compared with the (superficially) quiet Americas, Europe has a long history of spying and power-plays. The Cold War is the most famous example — when German chancellor Willy Brandt’s personal assistant was unmasked as an East German agent, Brandt resigned. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willy_Brandt#Guillaume_affair
However, as Stratfor once observed, the British, French, and Russians have jockeyed for primacy in Europe for centuries… and the Germans were more or less caught in the middle, crossing their fingers no power-bloc formed that was powerful enough to wipe them out. (There’s an argument to be made that the rise of Prussian militarism and Nazi “let’s conquer Europe” zeal was a paranoic delayed reaction to this balance of power… “take them over before they take us over.”)
In other words… a whole lot of spyin’ and counterspyin’ goin’ on.
In a sense the Merkelian outrage at personal cell-tappery is therefore directed less at the act itself, but at the larger meaning… “you mean we haven’t put this stuff behind us, and you’ve been lying all along to lull us into a false sense of security?!”
As anyone who’s studied espionage history thoroughly will understand… lulling people into being easier targets, of course, is an Anglo-American specialty.
There’s a saying, “Get a British and an American spy together at a dinner table and they’ll go round and round — showing how they’re even more stupid, uninformed, incompetent, and generally clueless than the other guy.”
(In modern times, this practice has been adopted by every intelligence agency.)
Hacker crackdowns: This explains the bizarre and heavy-handed US hacker-fear-mongering and crackdowns in the ’80s and ’90s! The NSA simply wanted recruits. In other news, if you’re smart and technically adept — FOLLOW THE LAW. http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/oct/22/uk-cyber-defence-force-ex-hackers-gchq
Gay-culture magazine The Advocate has a great profile on Greenwald, Miranda, and Snowden’s personalities and their interactions. http://www.advocate.com/print/print-issue/current-issue/2013/10/24/enemy-state
(use your robotic translator of choice)