Germany BND chief to restructure agency following NSA spying scandal – report
BND chief Gerhard Schindler told a meeting of the staff council leadership that he wants to bring the 6,500 agents in field offices under central control, stating that some of them have taken on “a life of their own,” Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.
In addition, Schindler said the “administrative and technical supervision” of the agency needs to be “significantly improved,” adding that the controlling system should be strengthened by legal and statistical testing bodies.
He also plans to hire external advisers to assist with the agency's restructuring, and to put an end to the “frayed” work.
That division in labor led to "significant problems in communication," Schindler said, adding that those issues were “cemented yet further” after the agency's HQ was moved to Berlin.
It comes shortly after German media revealed that the BND went against German interests while spying on European politicians and companies for the US National Security Agency (NSA). Those involved in the surveillance were divided between HQ and the listening post at Bad Aibling.
That lack of responsibility and oversight led to the BND breaching its own 2002 'Memorandum of Agreement' with the NSA – because the German agency wasn’t supposed to spy on NATO partners or European institutions on behalf of Washington.
Although BND employees felt some of the selectors ran contrary to the goal of the agency and German Foreign Ministry since at least 2008, it wasn't until 2013 – in the midst of the Edward Snowden revelations – that an investigation showed that some of the selectors violated German and EU interests.
But despite the spying scandal and imminent restructuring of the BND, Schindler is keen to continue working with the NSA. He stated in May that the BND is “dependent” on the US agency, adding that “without this cooperation we wouldn't be able to carry out our work.”
The scandal has led to a dip in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's approval rating, with a May poll finding that one-third of Germans feel deceived by her.