Photo by A.Savin (Wikimedia Commons)
Earlier this week, a white man got stuck in a cave like Winnie the Pooh, and the rest of Germany mistook it for a news story. While most media outlets were running overexcited rolling live-blogs about NOTHING HAPPENING, and occasionally getting in the way of the rescuers, the German intelligence agency, whose official English title is the slightly pernickety Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or Verfassungsschutz (BfV), released an annual report.
Its main message was that Germany needs to be very worried about the 320 German jihadists currently fighting with jihadi organization ISIS in Iraq and Syria, because they might return and do harm to the German constitution. This is alright. There definitely are German idiots out there in Iraq, pretending to be Muslim, and the ones who don't blow themselves up there could well come back and blow themselves up here. That would be really shit. Unless they did it near that new Schloß that everyone hates so much.
But what the 384-page report didn't mention as often as jihadists was the NSA. In fact, it mentioned it only twice – once in a chapter about left-wing extremism which points out all the threats posed by the anti-NSA demos. And the second mention came in a section about "other intelligence activities”. The BfV is not all that bothered, in other words. In fact, the BfV head Hans-Georg Maaßen said all of Edward Snowden's revelations were no more than "assumption and speculation."
But we also found out this week that he might have been more honest than we realized, for on the same day as the BfV report, Der Spiegel released a new pile of Snowden documents, which showed exactly where the NSA was doing its spying in Germany. The dossier shows, among other things, that Germany is the NSA's most important partner in Europe, and that the US is collecting and analyzing data in bases in Berlin, Frankfurt, Wiesbaden, Stuttgart, and in some village in deepest Bavaria.
Not only that, the dossier apparently contains information unknown to the German government, since according to Der Spiegel, they have been getting calls from German security agencies asking for a look. Maybe that's why subliminally German people were so obsessed with that Gollum-man who buried himself in a mountain. We all want somewhere to hide. What if he was happy down there?