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Wow, quite a catch, Ray!

The hypocrisy of it is simply astonishing, the bias doesn't get more clear than that. The only excuse that the appologizers have is that nobody really reads Spiegel anyway. Right... (You must also ignore Eberhard Pilz's words about the rest of German MSM, but that's easy...).

I know several Germans who get their daily news from Spiegel Online. They are well-educated, smart and young. (Somehow Jorg didn't get to them and they don't know that no one gets the news from Spiegel). I somehow have the feeling that those aren't the only Germans who read the Spiegel to "inform" themeselves. Let's also not forget Spiegel's competitors in the media. They might not be as vulgar (with the exception of Stern), but they report on the US basically in the same manner, only using a somewhat more polished style.

The conclusion? A vast majority of Germans are almost completely out of touch with matters related to the US, while at the same time considering themselves extremely well informed. By far not all Germans are anti-American, but 90% of the Germans I met while living there were grossly misinformed about various aspects of American life (not only politics!). The ones who weren't anti-American were generally open to corrections and usually had no difficulties accepting the facts. However, my contributions to enlightening Germans about America were dwarfed by the constant tone of negativity in the German media.

The German media fails miserably in their job to properly inform the Germans. Many Germans, since they don't know any better by now, have come to expect the bias and can not conceive of a reality outside of what the media tells them. Personally I am convinced that there are people in the German media who behave like this because of their ideology (stupid but, in their minds, well-intentioned), and then there are some who behave like this willingly and fully aware of the ill effects of their behavior.

>> A vast majority of Germans are almost completely out of touch with matters related to the US, while at the same time considering themselves extremely well informed.

That's exactly right, unfortunately. If only people would realize that they are (often deliberately) NOT well informed by our MSM, that would be a great step.

I think you need to provide a bit more specific info about the investigations in the US and Germany to make a convincing argument.

Are the US and German case really comparable?
Did German authorities dig as as deep into credit card holders privacy as US authorities have done?
Did German authorities check US credit cards?

"Note that the investigators ran a check on all 22 million credit card holders in Germany. You would think that such an action would raise serious questions at SPIEGEL ONLINE as to whether the authorities were violating privacy laws or civil liberties or even spying on unsuspecting Germans."

It seems German law enforcement authorities did not do that. From your link:

"Die Kreditkartenunternehmen seien aufgefordert worden, ihre eigenen Datensätze nach konkreten Suchkriterien der Ermittler zu durchkämmen. Letztlich hätten sie der Polizei mit den Daten der Verdächtigen nur einen Bodensatz ihres Bestandes geliefert. Weitere Datensätze, die die Merkmale nicht erfüllten, seien nach bisheriger Kenntnis nicht übermittelt worden. (...)
So sei etwa untersucht worden, ob die Kunden in einem bestimmten Zeitraum die Summe von 79,99 Dollar auf ein verdächtiges Konto im Ausland überwiesen hatten.
Insgesamt wurden mehr als 20 Millionen Kreditkarten auf fünf von den Ermittlern vorgegebene Kriterien hin überprüft. Trafen alle Merkmale zu, wurden die persönlichen Daten an die Staatsanwaltschaft weitergeleitet."
http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/justiz/0,1518,458645,00.html

Is this Jorg character for real?

@ Jorg,

Why do you assume the US authorities went further or deeper into the records than the German authorities and what does that say about your biases? It seems that, like the German authorities, they skimmed the larger databases for certain patterns that might lead them to suspects. The bottom line is that German authorities did subject all credit cards to the search even if they did not end up looking at them all (because they were searching for a certain pattern.)

Both cases clearly present the same sorts of questions about privacy, civil liberties and financial security. Yet SPON chose to raise those concerns and take on an alarmist tone only in the case involving America. They were practically cheerleading for the German authorities. The double standard is obvious and undeniable. That is what this post is about.

Don't forget the "chicken factor." As foul as child pornographers are, they aren't likely to place a bomb-laden van outside the offices of Spiegel. If Spiegel gave sufficient reason, the terrorists that Bushitler's war-mongering US is fighting around the world would do just that without a moment's hesitation. Hence Spiegel's anti-US rants. It's cheap bomb insurance and keeps the nasty sort happy.

Does anyone know if Spiegel was around between 1933 and 1945? If so, it'd be interesting to know how they responded to the real Hitler. Along with public school teachers, the German press bears the dubious distinction of being the only two groups criticized by Nazis leaders as being too enthusiastic. I believe it was in early 1934 that Propaganda Minister Goebbels reprimanded the nation's major newspapers for following the party line too slavishly. The party, he said, did not mind if each paper retained its unique style and flavor.

Keep in mind that many journalists and editors are like James Thurber's character, Walter Mitty. They imagine themselves far braver than they are. Here's what Wikipedia says about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

"The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is a short story by James Thurber. It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name, with Danny Kaye in the title role. The short story deals with an absent-minded man who drives his wife to the hairdressers, and then must run an errand while she is there. During this time he has four heroic daydream episodes. The first is as a pilot of a U.S. Navy flying boat in a horrific storm, then he is a magnificent surgeon performing a one-of-a-kind surgery, then as a cool assassin testifying in a courtroom, and finally as a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot volunteering for a daring, secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump.

And there's an idea that Medienkritick (or a kindren spirit) might want to follow up on. Good Housekeeping magazine used to issue a "Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval" for products (and still may for all I know). Someone should create a "Terrorist Stamp of Approval" and issue it to news outlets toeing the terrorist party line. I'd suggest for the logo an adaptation of the Danish cartoon of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Send their board, top executives, and editors a registered, signature-required letter informing them of the award and the fact that they are free to prominently display it on all their products.

--Mike Perry, Untangling Tolkien, Seattle

Well one always learns something new here.


Jorg,

Do you have link to the child porn investigation conducted in the US. I would have to assume it was done by the FBI. I do not seem to find any news reports on about it.

Thanks,

The two issues are simply not comparable although I will reserve my final judgement because I don't know what kind of access US authorities had to the SWIFT data and how they used it. Let's just note:

The German prosecution had no access to the credit card accounts. They were only given the information that 322 credit card holders had sent money to an account of a website that sold child porn. It could then, with warrants, investigate the homes and computers of those 322 people. It did not know anything about other transactions. If you check the records of the motor vehicle department for red mercedes cars with a license plate of B-22xxxx, that would be basically the same thing just with the difference that not only one specific car but ALL cars meeting that criteria need to be found.

From what I read even that action is meeting criticism now. My personal opinion is that these searches are ok as long as they clearly define the persons sought and "false positives" can be ruled out. So if that account was only used for child porn, that's a clear definition. If it was used for multiple and mostly legal transactions plus the illegal one the search would yield false positives and must not be allowed since completely innocent people would be subject to home searches only based on this kind of search.

Re SWIFT, I think you would sing a different tune if the German BND could and would tap into financial transaction made between Los Angeles and New York.

If you can tap into SWIFT, you can monitor transactions between Milan and Berlin for example. And that's simply none of US business. Industrial espionage and all that...

"Industrial espionage and all that..."

In that case you should be worrying about France. After all, it's a national "sport" there.

FWIW:

I used to work in telecom (software developer - billing). SWIFT data is not considered secure or private. Currency exchange transactions/reconciliations need it, e.g. calls between Italy and US, euro vs dollars.

Put it this way - back in the 90's SWIFT data was used to reconcile international accounts as a norm. If I, a lowly developer, needed it for something, there would have been no problem.

Amelie

You have absolutely no clue what pattern the Germans were looking for and you also have absolutely no clue what type of pattern the Americans were looking for. Having said that, you have absolutely no problem having full faith in the Germans' way of handling the information, while you have absolutely no faith in the Americans' way of handling the information.

You also have absolutely no understanding that, even though the two situations are obviously not identical, the principle is exactly the same - some type of government agency initiates some sort of surveillance of private transactions. Inspite of your total lack of factual evidence, you readily assume that the German surveillance was potentially good while the American was potentially evil.

Amelie, you either think and write, or you write and think you thought. If you choose the latter, don't tbe surprised if the Stupidity fairy claims you as her own.

This is an outstanding article asking all the right questions and informing people.

This is a little off topic, but an independent blogger, Bill Roggio who embedded in Iraq has an article in Weltwosche. Not all rosey, not all bad.

His English link,
http://billroggio.com/archives/2007/01/iraq_the_largest_ene.php

German language link,
http://www.weltwoche.ch/artikel/?AssetID=15684&CategoryID=91

@WhatDoIKnow

The German prosecution has exactly detailed what pattern they were looking for: The account number of a child pornography website, the exact amount of 79,99 dollars they were charging, and a time frame when the site was active. The authorities would be unable to gain any info about anyone who did not pay for this site. They would not even know what other transactions the incriminated people had done.

I will still wait to judge the affair until I know more.

Same with SWIFT. I have not said it's bad, just that concerns have to be addressed. Since everything the US does in that respect is shrowded in secrecy, it's hard to say.

But let me give you an example that would be comparable: If US authorities asked SWIFT to provide the identity of all persons who wired money to a terrorist account I would have no problems with that. I would expect though that if incriminated persons are in Germany that Gernman authorities are informed.

There is no need for personal attacks.

@ amelie
I believe we have to seperate myths from facts.
Sometimes I get the feeling that Germans/Europeans get the idea, because of media information, thaqt we have no laws governing the privacy and protection of individuals in the USA.
Fact: our laws concerning privacy, discrimination and protection are much stricter than those anywhere in Germany or for that matter Europe.
Just a few examples: Discrimination of race, religion, age or handicap is not tolerated and dealt swiftly in the courts.
Protection against police searches is very strict. Can you imagine not allowing a police officer to come into your home to conduct a search without a warrant. In Germany/Europe this is allowed, in the US it is strictly forbidden. Due to the freedom of expression and speech you can tell them to go home without consequences.(and much more)
Domestic wiretaps are forbidden without specific court order. Nothing is shrouded in secrecy.
By the way, any court order must be specific as to what they search for and the place they search in. If you had a bag of cocain hidden and the warrant asked for search of a murder weapon, it would be illegal to make a case out of it.
Just do some research into our laws befor making statementsregarding such?

americanbychoice

Do some research of German laws:

Discrimination of race, religion, age or handicap is not tolerated here as well.

It is as illegal to search a home without a warrant in Germany as it is in the U.S. The only reason to do it without a warrant would be in the case of "Gefahr im Verzug". Thev rules are very strict in those cases. An example would be. A man admits to possessing drugs, manages to warn his girlfriend who speeds off to the house. In that case police may enter the house without a warrant because waiting for one would allow the girlfriend to destroy evidence.

And yes, warrants must be specific in Germany as well. If you search a house to find evidence of tax fraud, you may not bring a dog to sniff out the place to search for drugs for example. If the person is in the house, he has the right to call a lawyer and the search has to wait until the lawyer arrives (in a reasonable time frame). If the search is conducted without the presence of the person independent witnesses (neighbor for example) have to be organized to watch over the search.

§ 102- 110 Strafprozessordnung (StPO)

And do not put words in my mouth I've never said.

Amelie: The German prosecution has exactly detailed what pattern they were looking for: : The account number of a child pornography website, the exact amount of 79,99 dollars they were charging, and a time frame when the site was active.

Really? They detailed exactly? Where? I sincerely don't know why you keep talking nonsense. Is it because that's your best shot?

Spiegel reported that the DA requested the credit card companies to supply information that complies with five criterias. Five! Do you have any ideas what exactly they are? Do you even know what five (5) means? Hint: like the number of fingers from one single accident-free hand.

Having said that, I don't claim and don't believe that the German authorities abused the system. However, people like you are extremely quick to assume that about America, if America does something similar.

You said: If you can tap into SWIFT, you can monitor transactions between Milan and Berlin for example. And that's simply none of US business. Industrial espionage and all that....

As I mentioned, you are very quick to make the worse assumptions about America, while giving others a pass, even though you don't have all the facts.

There is no need for personal attacks.

The only one who resorts to personal attacks is you. Your posts insult the intelligence of anyone who does even only a little bit of thinking.

@Amalie
Re SWIFT, I think you would sing a different tune if the German BND could and would tap into financial transaction made between Los Angeles and New York.

If you can tap into SWIFT, you can monitor transactions between Milan and Berlin for example. And that's simply none of US business. Industrial espionage and all that...

What a fucking idiot.

Did you see my post above? SWIFT is an international clearing house. Its records are available to any commercial entity that requires its services. When I was a developer in telecom, had I needed the traffic from a user between Berlin and Milan I could have had it no questions asked. If I needed the financial data, I could have had it no questions asked.

As far as governments go - the laws of the gov't in question prevail.

None of the US business? Of course it is. It's the business of every gov't on the planet. And don't for one minute think the U.S. is the only gov't doing this kind of thing.

I just can't wait for the Italians to self-immolate over the discovery that their gov't was in on the 'rendition' of that Egyptian the CIA picked up. Everybody and Sophia Loren was in on it but now they're in a snit trying to figure out how to make it look like they weren't really cooperating and please let's blame it all on the Americans.

BRUSSELS -- A previously unpublished document shows that the European Union secretly agreed in 2003 to let the United States use transit facilities on European soil to transport "criminals."
The revelation supports U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's strong suggestion last week that so-called "rendition" flights were undertaken with the approval of other governments, despite denials by European officials.

European Hypocrasy, thy name is Amelie

*snort


Amelie

I start wondering if you're just plain st...d, or you're only uneducated. I can't do much about the former, but with the latter I can help.

You really like the SWIFT example, don't you? Let me educate you a little. The US didn't somehow secretely tap into SWIFT, as you so idiotically say. SWIFT themselves provided information to the US government. Not only that, but SWIFT provided only limited sets of data (SWIFT's words). You know, just like the credit card companies provided information to the German prosecutors.

What do you think? Has stu...y started to hurt yet?

I will stay polite and ask you to do the same

You guys are really dense:

Re SWIFT: I have repeatedly said that I do not know enough about the system to judge it, all I did is mentioning that there are concerns. People who are concerned include the EU Commission. From what I understand the idea is to find patterns of international money transactions.

This is what Wikipedia has:

"Seit den Terroranschlägen am 11. September 2001 in den USA übermittelte SWIFT nach eigenen Angaben vertrauliche Daten über Finanztransaktionen an US-amerikanische Behörden. In Presseberichten ist von 20 Millionen übermittelter Bankdaten pro Jahr die Rede. Die US-amerikanische Regierung ist unmittelbar nach den Anschlägen über CIA, FBI, Finanzministerium und US-Notenbank an die SWIFT-Führung herangetreten. Diese folgte der Aufforderung freiwillig. Dabei war das 25-köpfige SWIFT-Direktorium sowie ein Kontrollgremium, dem auch ein Mitglied der Deutschen Bundesbank angehörte, von den Vorgängen informiert. Wie die dpa berichtet, habe SWIFT versucht, eine Genehmigung für die Datenweitergabe zu erhalten, die befragten Zentralbanken hätten darauf jedoch nicht reagiert. In der New York Times, welche die Vorgänge aufdeckte, wird angezweifelt, ob die Vorgehensweise legal war.[1] So sieht etwa das zivilgesellschaftliche Netzwerk „Aktion Finanzplatz Schweiz“ in der Weitergabe der Daten einen Verstoß gegen das Bankgeheimnis. Die Bush-Regierung rechtfertigt das Vorgehen mit dem Schlagwort vom Krieg gegen den Terror.

In Deutschland wurde seitens des Unabhängigen Landeszentrums für Datenschutz Schleswig-Holstein (ULD) eine Untersuchung eingeleitet, ob durch die Datenweitergabe eine Verletzung des Bankgeheimnisses und des Datenschutzes vorliege. In einer Pressemitteilung des ULD heißt es: „Es kann und darf nicht sein, dass das Bundesverfassungsgericht zu Recht den deutschen Sicherheitsbehörden klare Grenzen bei so genannten verdachtsunabhängigen Jedermannkontrollen setzt und dass dann über den Umweg eines belgischen Dienstleisters der US-Regierung erlaubt wird, im Trüben zu fischen und Freiheiten und Bürgerrechte zu ignorieren.“[2]

Die Stellungnahme des ULD findet sich unter: http://www.datenschutzzentrum.de/wirtschaft/swift/060825_swift.htm

Im Oktober 2006 wird klar, daß die Geschäftsführung von "Booz Allen Hamilton", der angeblich unabhängigen externen Beraterfirma von SWIFT, unter anderem aus dem Ex-CIA-Chef James Woolsey und dem Ex-NSA-Direktor Mike McConnel besteht. Weiterhin werden nach offiziellen Angaben große Mengen an Daten des SWIFT-Systems an den CIA übermittelt. [3]

@WhatDoIKnow
Yes I do know what the 5 criteria were because the press conference named them:

The amount charged: 79,99 (the one and only amount the website charged for access to its illegal content
The foreign bank
The account number the money went to
The exact time frame (May/June)
The IP of the site that was used as the code that identified the product bought

Only the number of cards that matched all 5 criteria were reported. Then in a second step the holders of the cards were identified by a different institution.

The only false positives you could imagine would be victims of stolen cards or credit card fraud. Since the 79,99 dollars have been charged half a year ago those person would have to explain why they never reported this.

Sorry for the dense, I forgot to delete it after I decided to stay polite

Amelie

You won't get away so easy. It doesn't matter how much you know about SWIFT. Do you realize the stupidity of your words? If you can tap into SWIFT, you can monitor transactions between Milan and Berlin for example. And that's simply none of US business. Industrial espionage and all that... Do you realize that your claim is so idiotic that it hurts just to read it?

As I said, and I may have to repeat, SWIFT themselves provided the US government with a limited set of data. It was not the US government who secretly spied on SWIFT communications. Does this get through, or am I asking too much?

I still don't understand what the difference is between SWIFT providing limited data to the US government and credit card companies providing limited data to the German companies?

Re SWIFT: I have repeatedly said that I do not know enough about the system to judge it, all I did is mentioning that there are concerns.

Really, there are "concerns"? Oh my, there are "concerns"... If you don't know enough, you shouldn't really parrot what others say. For starters, read SWIFT's statement about the whole issue here: http://www.swift.com/index.cfm?item_id=59897


P.S. Let me see, after you read that link you will find another Wikipedia article claiming that SWIFT is actually in US's pocket. Right?

@ all,

Perhaps you are overlooking this detail, but the Belgian government knew about the surveillance on the SWIFT accounts to the best of my knowledge. It is not as if the US intelligence service somehow did this behind their backs. If the BND wanted to look at transactions from NY to LA, and the US government knew about it and allowed it, that is a different story indeed. In fact, the SPIEGEL article we link on the topic in this post indicates that the Belgian government along with the Belgian and Dutch central banks were informed.

@amelie..

this is just so typical. When it comes to German/European activities, there are always excuses, explanations, logical reasons, etc..

When the AMIS do something it is always inexcusable, without cause, etc.

that is called 'black and white thinking'.. wait a second, I thought only the AMIS and Búsh did that..
now I am really confused.

Amiexpat,

Well of course there is. If you are morally superior there is always a reason for your actions. You always act in both a noble and honorable manner.

A short review of European history supports this superiority.

@Amelie
You really don't know what you are talking about.
Regarding the Anti-discrimination laws, there is a huge difference between the American and German/Europeon laws. As several Ministers have said repeatedly, instituting a law like the US has would require a huge tax increase since it would be so expensive. Talking about age for instance, it is quite common for an employer to deny you a job because you are too old. The accesibility feature in the USA would just about destroy most Geramn/European housing, since it would require major modification to the renters access to their apartments.
As far as the police is concerned, people have much more protection here than in Germany. research it a little. While you have an anti- discrimination law, it is so watered down to make it quasi ineffective.
By the way, I lived in Germany for a total of 25 years, speak the language fluently and I am always amazed at the little knowledge most Geramns/ Europeons have about America. They, like you,form their feelings from the media headlines. "Feelings are different than facts".

"The only false positives you could imagine would be victims of stolen cards or credit card fraud..."

What mental contortions she subjects herself to just to deny the obvious! I wonder why? This time she's trying to convince us that the contrast between the huge brouhaha in the German media over US domestic spying and the indifference or, in some cases, even praise of domestic spying in Europe is completely reasonable. No evidence of bias there. Right!

The claim this time is that the German media's usual over-the-top faux virtuous indignation about US spying versus its indifference to European spying is reasonable because the European spying was more focused. Evidently the U.S. authorities were supposed to limit their search to people who had used a personal credit card to buy exactly $79.99 worth of explosives at Terrorists-R-Us before their suicide bombing.

The most significant difference between the two cases is the nature of the crime the people gathering the intelligence were trying to prevent. Certainly, child molestation is a heinous and outrageous crime. Far be it from me to defend it. But, if given the terrible choice, I don't doubt that about 99.99% of people in their right mind would rather be victimized by a molester than butchered along with the rest of their family by terrorists. By that rather stark criterion, the crime the Americans were trying to prevent was far more serious, and the resort to domestic spying, therefore, more reasonable. Was this fact pointed out in the German media? Not in any of the propaganda dripping with fake moral outrage that I read.

Helian, you are not fair! You single out Amelie and leave out Mr Double Personality, the Star of this blog, the one and only Jorg?

I see Amelie is gone. For now. She probably ran out of Wikipedia articles condamning the SWIFT program. No worries, she'll be back in a few days on another subject making another outrageous claim. Life goes on...

WhatDoIKnow

"I see Amelie is gone. For now. She probably ran out of Wikipedia articles condamning the SWIFT program. No worries, she'll be back in a few days on another subject making another outrageous claim."

You kind of get the feeling you're wasting your torpedoes on this stuff, don't you? I suspect it's useless to argue with anyone who really finds rationalizations based on the minutiae of what was collected, etc., compelling in explaining away the huge disparities in media reaction.

re SWIFT
I have made it repeatedly clear that I do not condemn the action taken in that respect because of course I don't have all the facts (nor do you). Remember that this program of analyzing SWIFT was secret before some US newspapers shed some light on it. I don't know if and how my privacy was violated in this case. The concerns that the program did violate Belgian and European privacy laws were raised by the Government of Belgium. The phrasing of "tapping into" was incorrect as a set of data was provided. I probably thought of the European airlines data bases US authorities had direct access to for a while.

The difference between SWIFT and the German credit card checking is simple: In the first case it is not clear what actually is checked and how and whether I should be concerned. In the credit card case the German authorities detailed exactly what they did, what kind of search they did and how accurate the results were. I have said that I believe this search was ok because it was so specific that false positives would not be a problem. And yet I wouldn't mind to have the issue investigated just to make sure that future searches do not become vague. In this search the authorities could learn nothing about me.

Re home searches: I see that you have nothing more to reply on that. "As far as the police is concerned, people have much more protection here than in Germany. research it a little" is not an answer. Come up with specifics.

Re anti discrimination law: While I don't know what this has to do with the matter I'm not terribly impressed. Frankly, employers employ whom they want to employ. If they don't like to employ women, they won't. The law just sees to it that they find another excuse for not hiring female candidates. Maybe it's just me but I prefer smart employers who are smart enough to hire smart women. I never had a problem. There are some good points in the US law you mentioned like the accessability factor. That would be a good thing to have.

A note on databases in general. This is not a US or European issue, it's a global one and increasingly worrying. We are filed away in hundreds of databases and the easier it gets to combine and match all those different huge databases the more transparent our lives become. And this takes a toll on freedom.

I do not judge actions by the criteria of "German" vs "American".

Also amiexpat, if you lived 25 years in Germany, you certainly have learned a lot about Germany. I have lived more than 5 years in the U.S., and also in other countries. I think that gives you a bit of perspective.

PS: After reading more about the credit card search it might be more problematic than I thought.

The phrasing of "tapping into" was incorrect as a set of data was provided. I probably thought of the European airlines data bases US authorities had direct access to for a while.

First of all, one of your big assumptions about the SWIFT program, namely that the US government could look into anything at any time without anyone's knowledge, was completely wrong. This thing happened, when, in July I guess. Basically, for five months you assumed the worse about the US government, even though facts were obviously unknown to you. You accepted the misinformation without questioning it and not only that, but you yourself spread this misinformation on DMK. Why did you do that? Because it fits into your view of the American government. By the way, no one knows what other similarly wrong assumptions you are making, not even you.

I do not judge actions by the criteria of "German" vs "American".

LOL. That was a joke, isn't it?

Remember that this program of analyzing SWIFT was secret before some US newspapers shed some light on it.

So was the German program. It stopped being secret when it was no longer needed.

You say the difference is that the German authorities made public the data that they were looking for, while the Americans didn't. That's one of the reasons why I gave you this link http://www.swift.com/index.cfm?item_id=59897

In it SWIFT, not the US government, say this:

SWIFT negotiated with the U.S. Treasury over the scope and oversight of the subpoenas. Through this process, SWIFT received significant protections and assurances as to the purpose, confidentiality, oversight and control of the limited sets of data produced under the subpoenas. Independent audit controls provide additional assurance that these protections are fully complied with
[...]
SWIFT is overseen by a senior committee drawn from the G-10 central banks and has informed them of this matter.

SWIFT is an extremely reputable organization, but you might choose not to believe them. You could believe that the US government might have gotten data from SWIFT about, say, Joe Sixpack ordering online dildos from Germany. You're free to do that, but if you want to go down that road don't expect anyone here to consider you worthy of dialogue. By the way, if SWIFT lies about this, how do you know that the German credit card companies and authorities aren't lying too?

@WhatdoIKnow

You quote SWIFT:
"SWIFT negotiated with the U.S. Treasury over the scope and oversight of the subpoenas. Through this process, SWIFT received significant protections and assurances as to the purpose, confidentiality, oversight and control of the limited sets of data produced under the subpoenas."

Since SWIFT is located in Belgium, it also has to comply with European laws.

You quote SWIFT:
"Independent audit controls provide additional assurance that these protections are fully complied with."

Als "unabhängige, externe" Beraterfirma überwacht Booz Allen Hamilton die gesetzeskonforme Abwicklung. In der Geschäftsführung sitzt neben Ex-CIA-Chef James Woolsey auch der ehemalige NSA-Direktor Mike McConnell.

Independent? Great to hear.

Amelie

Are you already getting in the race for the idiotarian of the year award? I try so hard to avoid using the words "stupid" and "Amelie" in the same sentence, but you make it so difficult...

You really have absolutely no shame. After I've shown you that your knowledge about the SWIFT program didn't exceed that of an idiotic troll, your only comeback line is that one former CIA director and one former NSA director work for that Booz. In your ossified mind that company is now discredited.

I guess the two are also tainted for life. They should never get out of their houses and never see the sun light again, right? They were both directors under Clinton, and Woolsey was CIA director for less that one year. Geez, don't mirrors crack when you look in them?

Re Woolsey:

Woolsey was the first person on national television on September 11, 2001 to allege the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda without disclosing on these shows his legal relationship representing Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress.
He is currently a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Advisor of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Founding Member of the Set America Free Coalition, and Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton for Global Strategic Security (since July 15, 2002). He was formerly chairman of the Freedom House board of trustees.
He is also a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signatories to the January 26, 1998, PNAC letter sent to President Clinton that called for the removal of Saddam Hussein. That same year he served on the Rumsfeld Commission, which investigated the threat of ballistic missiles for the US Congress.
In July 2006 Woolsey called on the US to bomb Syria.

Mike McConnell

On January 5, 2007, McConnell was nominated by President George W. Bush to succeed John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence.

BOTH vice directors of that "independent" auditing company Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the most important contract partner of the military electronic complex of the USA and consultant of the NSA. Turnover in business with the U.S. military in 2006: 2.5 bn dollars. The civil business turnover was just 656 million dollars a year.

This "independent" company guarantees the "correct use" of the data sent to the CIA.

SWIFT has said that once they supplied the data they lost any control over what the US authorities do with them. This is against Belgian and European laws of data protection which stipulate that citizens of the EU have a right to know what use is made of their data.


Amelie,

And your point would be??????????????

Amelie

Booz Allen Hamilton is a consulting firm, and the US government is just one of their clients. Since they specialize in strategy consulting, they will not hire Amelie in a top position, but only people with expertise in that area.

What you do is to discredit a company with tradition only because it employs former CIA and NSA directors. They might hire you to shred unused toilet paper, but they need people like Woolsey and McConell in order to be competitive.

SWIFT has said that once they supplied the data they lost any control over what the US authorities do with them.

My goodness, is this for real? So, if a store sells you a dildo they lost control over it? No kidding... That's news... Amelie, how can you be so...logic challenged? You make Jorg and unhinged sound like superstars.

This was another one of your by now trademarked brainless remarks. It's in the same category with this idiocy: Remember that this program of analyzing SWIFT was secret before some US newspapers shed some light on it. Duh... Really...? Just like the German program. And didn't German credit card companies loose control over the data once it was out?

Amelie, bottom line is this: the more you talk/write, the worse you sound. This isn't fair anymore; not fair for you. The Germans have a saying, which you should heed: wenn man keine Ahnung hat, einfach mal die Schnauze halten.

@Amelie
Woolsey was the first person on national television on September 11, 2001 to allege the connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda without disclosing on these shows his legal relationship representing Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress

I was fairly well glued to the television on 9/11, but I admit that getting my husband home safe and dealing with families who lost loved ones in the Pentagon at times distracted me. I don't remember Woolsey on TV from that day at all, but I admit freely - it was rather an unusual day. Any link you can provide would be welcome, but I must tell you, the meme was old by the time 9/11 happened.

And those of us who paid attention were already well aware of the whole nine yards from 1993 and well aware of Woolsey's ties - as we were of Chalabi.

R. JAMES WOOLSEY is a partner at Shea & Gardner in Washington, D.C. He served as director of central intelligence from February 1993 to January 1995.
In the immediate aftermath of Tuesday's attacks, attention has focused on terrorist chieftain Osama bin Laden. And he may well be responsible. But intelligence and law enforcement officials investigating the case would do well to at least consider another possibility: that the attacks--whether perpetrated by bin Laden and his associates or by others--were sponsored, supported, and perhaps even ordered by Saddam Hussein.
To this end, investigators should revisit the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. A few years ago, the facts in that case seemed straightforward: The mastermind behind the bombing, who went by the alias Ramzi Yousef, was in fact a 27-year-old Pakistani named Abdul Basit. But late last year, AEI Press published "Study of Revenge: Saddam Hussein's Unfinished War Against America," a careful book about the bombing by AEI scholar Laurie Mylroie. The book's startling thesis is that the original theory of the attack, advanced by James Fox (the FBI's chief investigator into the 1993 bombing until his replacement in 1994) was correct: that Yousef was not Abdul Basit but rather an Iraqi agent who had assumed the latter's identity when police files in Kuwait (where the real Abdul Basit lived in 1990) were doctored by Iraqi intelligence during the occupation of Kuwait. If Mylroie and Fox (who died in 1997) are right, then it was Iraq that went after the World Trade Center last time. Which makes it much more plausible that Iraq has done so again.

http://www.radiobergen.org/terrorism/iraq.htm

I want readers here to notice something. I am providing links. I am not making assertions without evidence. Amelie presents information as if because the information is not commonly known, there is a a big deal to be dug into.
And check this out:

He is currently a trustee at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Advisor of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, Founding Member of the Set America Free Coalition, and Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton for Global Strategic Security (since July 15, 2002). He was formerly chairman of the Freedom House board of trustees.
He is also a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and was one of the signatories to the January 26, 1998, PNAC letter sent to President Clinton that called for the removal of Saddam Hussein. That same year he served on the Rumsfeld Commission, which investigated the threat of ballistic missiles for the US Congress.
In July 2006 Woolsey called on the US to bomb Syria.

OH FUCK! HE BELONGS TO ALL THESE ORGANIZATIONS THAT - oh no wait - one of them sent a letter. To POTUS. Calling for removal of Saddam Hussein. To President Clinton.
Well then. That says it all. His group wrote a letter to POTUS asking for US policy to support regime change. Which actually happened. Under an administration of a different party. After over 3000 people on American soil were slaughtered.
And I love this: In July 2006 Woolsey called on the US to bomb Syria
How insidious. I don't know what the source of this assertion is but I can tell you this: In July 2006 I called on the US to bomb Syria. I did the same thing in previous months and years. I am not alone. But let it be noticed, our power to assert our will is so insidious that nothing we advocate ever happens, which of course means we are just the power behind the hegemonistic power - no one will ever find us. The right hand will never know what the left hand is doing.

And the Trilateral Commission is really just PETA in disguise.

And something else I want to point out. 'Amelie' seems to have two different 'voices'. One is very sloppy and maintains it really doesn't know enough to make a judgemet (yet not hesitating to make it) and the other voice comes up with background on James Woolsey in about 2 hours - no links of course - but this is the work of a consortium - not one person.

Booz Allen Hamilton is a consulting firm, and the US government is just one of their clients. Since they specialize in strategy consulting, they will not hire Amelie in a top position, but only people with expertise in that area.

If one single client accounts for three thirds of your business, that's not "just one client", it's THE client your company depends on.

What you do is to discredit a company with tradition only because it employs former CIA and NSA directors. They might hire you to shred unused toilet paper, but they need people like Woolsey and McConell in order to be competitive.

They can hire whomever they want. But given the fact that they almost entirely depend on the US military complex and hire two ex intelligence bosses (one now again boss of the US intelligence system, the other a profiteer of the war he shilled for (links on request), they shouldn't be astonished that their impartiality is questioned.

My goodness, is this for real? So, if a store sells you a dildo they lost control over it? No kidding... That's news... Amelie, how can you be so...logic challenged? You make Jorg and unhinged sound like superstars.

SWIFT provided (at least) 20 million of random datasets, with certain guarantees as to what US intelligence would be allowed to do with them. You can do a lot with 20 million datasets. You can search for terrorist money flows. You can also do searches that enable you to find out a lot of different things. A simple and harmless example: You are provided the addresses and phone numbers of 20 million people under the condition that you may only use it to find out to whom a known phone number belongs. But you can also use the database to find out who lives in the house of Main Street #6. To make sure that you don't do a search like this an independent auditing firm will monitor the searches you do. Then you find out that this firm receives 75% of its income from the client (here the US military/intelligence complex) it is supposed to control, and that two vice presidents of that independent auditor were closely associated with that client and one actually just became the uber-boss of the US intelligence (the very client they were supposed to monitor).

The German example simply does not compare. The credit card companies did the searching after criterias that were so specific that out of 20 million datasets, 322 sets were chosen. Of this 322 the only info given was credit card number, name and address, and that those people had purchased membership for a kiddie porn site for 79,99.

And no, even if you would like it, I will not shut up. Nor react to personal insults. Let's see if you are able to write a reply that shows that you were taught manners.

Amelie

Less than two days ago you had absolutely no clue what the SWIFT program was really all about, but you assumed happily the worse about the US government. Since then you learned a few vital things.

What was your reaction? Did you say or think "OK, maybe I jumped to conclusions. Maybe I should be just a little bit more careful in the future with my assumptions". No way! You didn't skip a beat. You went on with trollish enthusiasm. Nothing will stop you from condemning America. If one of your arguments proves to be foolish and untrue, well, so be it, you will find another one to hammer the Administration.

Your criticism has been severely downgraded from "Americans spy on everyone, everywhere, anytime" to "Two people in the overseeing organization are not kosher". Quite a change, but don't let that discourage you. It's similar to the Olympics - the performance doesn't matter, what matters is to be there and make yourself seen.

Your new argument is that the Germans got data only on 322 subjects, while the Americans got data on much more that that. Ergo, Americans bad. No matter that the number of Jihadists worlwide outnumbers by far the number of pedophiles in Germany. Who the hell cares about details like that. America bad!

And no, even if you would like it, I will not shut up.

Look into your heart of hearts and answer this question: do you really think I care what you do?

The exchange with Amelie reminded me of another exchange I had with someone about two months ago. It went on like this, word for word:

The guy says emphatically: "Israel has no right to exist there!"

I reply, surprised by his vehemence: "What do you mean?"

He says, sure of himself: "They have never had any rights over that land. They simply took over the Muslims' land because the Muslims were weak. They have no right be exist there".

I reply, quite amazed by an apparent lack of basic knowledge: "Are you serious? The Jews have been there centuries before any Muslim set foot. They were there centuries before Islam even appeared. No one says that Muslims shouldn't be there today, quite the contrary, but if anyone has a historical claim it is first of all the Jews".

He knows that I wouldn't lie to him. He replies with silence. And more silence. This only confirms my previous hunch - he obviously has no idea about basic history. Finally he says meekly: "Let me check on that".

I agree politely and start wondering: "What a hell? What am I doing here?".

He comes back after a while, probably from some Wikipedia-like source of information and says, with regained confidence: "Well, you're right, but the Muslims' objections were ignored in 1947. Israel has no right to exist there."

End of true story. The goalposts had just moved.


Facts are easily interchangeable. What truly matters is alone the message: America bad.

Isn't it surprising that the German media is so exquisitely sensitive about any attempt by the US government to collect information related to terrorism, but doesn't have the slightest problem with the institutionalized domestic spying of the Einwohnermeldeämter in their own country? They keep extensive information about every citizen, and the cops and many other officials can gain access to the information by simply flashing a badge.

Helian,

Don't forget that various papers in Germany announced a couple of weeks ago that all telephone conversations would be stored for 6 months, something unheard of in the USA.
Police have authority over their citizens that would be struck down in America by any court. Just an example: Road blocks are common in Germany, yet struck down repeatedly here because of lack of probable cause.
Amelie reminds me of being part of the most intelligent group of people on the entire Planet............Teenagers.
They know everything, don't need to be educated any more, read headlines, embrace "feeling" as facts and use selective research on the net. If she ever emigrated, it would certainly not be deemed a Braindrain.

@americanbychoice
Germany announced a couple of weeks ago that all telephone conversations would be stored for 6 months,

Would you claify this please? Do you really mean conversations or traffic?

In the U.S. a residential telephone call can be billed up to 3 months after it was placed, allowing traffic info to be kept for at least 90 days. For commercial calls, it's 6 months.

@americanbychoice

before you speculate about the brain of others, do nor make misleading claims. Of course not "all telephone conversations would be stored for 6 months" (you imply that the content of those conversations is stored), just the number records. German Telecom already stores those data for op to 3 months for billing purposes. Maybe you can tell me how long AT&T and other companies do.

This is a new EU directive law which will actually be challenged at the German Constitutional Court because it may violate the German Basic Law.

Of course this could never ever happen in the U.S. Or could it?

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls:
The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY.
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-nsa_x.htm

Helian
Scared about the Einwohnermeldeamt? Thats the extensive info they store and police/officials can get there if they need to:

Das Melderegister dient zur Speicherung folgender Daten:

1. Familiennamen, frühere Namen, Vornamen
2. Doktorgrad, Ordensnamen/Künstlernamen
3. Tag und Ort der Geburt, Geschlecht
4. Erwerbstätig/nicht erwerbstätig
5. Gesetzlicher Vertreter / Eltern von Kindern bis zum vollendeten 27. Lebensjahr
6. Vor und Familiennamen
7. Doktorgrad
8. Anschrift
9. Tag der Geburt
10. Gegebenfalls Sterbetag
11. Staatsangehörigkeit(en)
12. Rechtliche Zugehörigkeit zu einer Religionsgesellschaft
13. Gegenwärtige und frühere Anschriften, Haupt- und Nebenwohnung, Datum des Ein und Auszugs
14. Familienstand, bei Verheirateten zusätzlich Tag und Ort der Eheschließung, Ehegatte (Vor und Familiennamen, Doktorgrad, Tag der Geburt, Anschrift, gegebenenfalls Sterbetag), Kinder bis zur Vollendung des 27. Lebensjahres (s.o)
15. Ausstellungsbehörde, Datum und Gültigkeitsdauer des Personalausweises/Passes
16. Übermittlungssperren (z.B. bei Gefahr für Leben, Gesundheit oder persönliche Freiheit)
17. Sterbetag und Ort
18. Tatsache, dass der Betroffene vom Wahlrecht ausgeschlossen ist
19. Steuerrechtliche Daten
20. Evtl. die Tatsache, dass Passversagungsgründe vorliegen, ein Pass versagt oder entzogen oder eine Anordnung getroffen worden ist, wonach der Ausweis nicht mehr dazu berechtigt, die Bundesrepublik Deutschland zu verlassen.

Of course you would not have any problems with that: "The FCRA specifies who can access your credit report. Creditors, insurers, employers, and other businesses that use the information in your report to evaluate your applications for credit, insurance, employment, or renting a home are among those that have a legal right to access your report.

http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/credit/freereports.htm

It's all a matter of perspective.

@Pamela,
Berlin will Telefondaten für sechs Monate speichern
Brüssel - Das monatelange Ringen der EU-Justizminister um die systematische Speicherung von Telefon- und Internetdaten hatte gestern ein Ende. Sie einigten sich auf einen Minimalkonsens bei der Überwachungs-Richtlinie, mit der Terroristen und Verbrecher aufgespürt werden sollen.

Demnach sollen Telefongespräche und Internetprotokolle mindestens sechs Monate und maximal zwei Jahre aufgenommen werden. Gespeichert werden Verbindungsdaten, nicht die Gesprächsinhalte. Die Mitgliedsländer können selbst entscheiden, welche Frist sie benennen. Deutschland will sich laut Justizministerin Brigitte Zypries an sechs Monaten orientieren. Vom Tisch sind Forderungen, auch Daten nicht zustande gekommener Gespräche zu archivieren. Die Daten sollen nicht nur bei der Fahndung von Terroristen helfen, sondern auch bei normalen Straftaten. Es soll dabei der Katalog des Europäischen Haftbefehls angewendet werden - zusätzlich die Verbreitung von Kinderpornografie und Stalking. Damit wird wahr, wovor viele Datenschützer gewarnt hatten. Bisher war diese Speicherung nur mit Verdacht möglich. Die Vorratsdatenspeicherung wird als präventive Maßnahme beurteilt, der alle EU-Bürger betrifft. Offen ist die Frage, wer die Zeche der Überwachung trägt. Sie soll national geregelt werden. Bundesinnenminister Schäuble hatte eine Entschädigung abgelehnt und die Firmen an ihre "staatsbürgerlichen Pflichten" erinnert.

amelie
it is quite simple reaing your contributions that anything Germany/Europe does is good, everything the US does is bad.
The fact that Europe is comitting suicide does not come to mind?
I just continue living in the "bad" US, enjoying my retirement (which most Europeans don't believe can happen here), marvel at the moral superiority and sophistication of "old Europe" and enjoy living in the freest country on Earth.
As someone once said: "The US isn't perfect, but better than any alternative".

@americanbychoice

I have lived both in Europe and in the U.S.
Both places have advantages and disadvantages. I enjoyed the open spaces, the friendliness of the people and many other things in the U.S.
I also enjoy the lifestyle in Europe: The fact that the inner cities are full of life in the evening, that I can go out by walking 5 minutes, sitting in a street cafe on a balmy summer evening in a beautiful historic setting. It's a matter of personal preferences.
Both places have their quirks. I'm not sure whether there is a "freest country in the world". It probably depends on your ideas about personal freedom.
It's quite a vibrant life here. Suicide?
Enjoy your retirement.
Lots of Germans go to Florida to retire
Lots of Americans go to Europe to retire
Whatever floats your boat

Well, there are many freedoms I enjoy. By the way I still visit Germany 3-4 times per year to see family.

I enjoy not getting taxed out of existance.
I enjoy our first amendment.
I enjoy the low cost of living as compared to Europe.
By suicide I was talking about demographic and economic suicide, too late to change now, unfortunately.
"Lots of Americans go to Europe to retire"? If you have the money and can afford it, possibly.
The cities in the US are just as vibrant. I happen to think that San Francisco is the most beautiful city on Earth. I have been all over the world.

americanbychoice

Ok, it's just traffic. That makes more sense. A friend of mine, back in oh - 1995? - took a job with a German telecom - out of Essen I believe. She was in marketing and was helping build the system that could market to new customers.

Turns out the privacy laws for this kind of thing are much stricter in Germany than they are in the U.S. They could only keep data in the aggregate, nothing on individual households.

Not here. Give me your address and I already know a whole lot about you.

But not in Germany. She said it was just about an impossible task.

pamela,
Yes, here I can find out just aout anything about you. However, it has nothing to do with Government, the FBI or NSA. It is compiled from public records (Available in Germany as well), Credit reports, (only with written permission) in Germany it is called Schufa, and Internet blogs as well. Try Google and type in a name. Your Doctor, Neighbor, you, etc.
If they have an internet addess, it will amaze you.
This is again not Government, but private sources.
Yes, detectives also access Utilities, etc.

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