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Germans protest against the NSA surveillance program PRISM in Berlin June 2013. (Photo: Digitale Gesellschaft / Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Germans protest against the NSA surveillance program PRISM in Berlin June 2013. (Photo: Digitale Gesellschaft / Wikimedia Creative Commons)

Revealed: Germany is Ground Zero for NSA's 'Secret Surveillance Architecture'

Der Spiegel combs through Snowden documents to expose NSA's 'all powerful' intelligence 'web.'

Sarah Lazare

Germany has for years been ground zero for the U.S. National Security Agency's European spy operations, hosting a "web" of sites that secretly collect information, including data used to "capture and kill" alleged terrorists, German magazine Der Spiegel revealed Wednesday.

Based on documents exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the reporting asserts that spying operations in Germany are more widespread than previously disclosed and raise questions about the German government's complicity in these operations.

Previous Snowden-linked revelations that the U.S. had been spying on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone communications had sparked an uproar across Germany and prompted an investigation by Germany's federal prosecutor. Yet, critics have charged that the German government has directly collaborated with the NSA behind closed doors while also being targeted by the agency.

According to the article, Snowden's documents

paint a picture of an all-powerful American intelligence agency that has developed an increasingly intimate relationship with Germany over the past 13 years while massively expanding its presence. No other country in Europe plays host to a secret NSA surveillance architecture comparable to the one in Germany. It is a web of sites defined as much by a thirst for total control as by the desire for security. In 2007, the NSA claimed to have at least a dozen active collection sites in Germany.

One facility, known as the European Technical Center, is based in Wiesbaden (a city in southwest Germany) and serves as a key data collection site. "From here, a Snowden document outlines, huge amounts of data are intercepted and forwarded to 'NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East,'" states the article.

The NSA's power in Germany appears to be growing, the article asserts. The "Consolidated Intelligence Center," a new spy center, is currently under construction in a U.S. military complex in Wiesbaden at a cost of $124 million. "When finished, the U.S. government will be even better equipped to satisfy its vast hunger for data," Der Spiegel reports.

As of 2011, the "Dagger Complex" in Griesheim, not far from Wiesbaden, employed 240 intelligence analysts who used programs like XKeyscore "not only to collect metadata—e.g. the who, what, where, with whom and at what time—but also the content of actual communications," the article reveals.

"The German public has a right to know exactly what the NSA is doing in Germany," charge the authors, listed as Spiegel staff.

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