10:06 AM 9/26/2018 – Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit?

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Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit?

New York Times2 hours ago
HAMBURG, Germany — Angela Merkel is the chancellor of … like President Trump’s election that same year, Brexit was dismissed as an …
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BloombergSep 24, 2018
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Angela Merkel: I can’t rule out Brexit talks breakdown

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Still unclear what Britain wants in Brexit talks: Merkel

The Daily StarSep 25, 2018
BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that Britain had still not expressed a clear position on its post-Brexit relations with the …
Opinion | Is Merkel to Blame for Brexit?

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HAMBURG, Germany — Angela Merkel is the chancellor of Germany, not the prime minister of Britain, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that she played a critical, if indirect, role in Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union. If not for her decision not long before the vote to allow for uncontrolled mass immigration into the heart of Europe, the pro-Brexit forces might have lost.

Remember that, like President Trump’s election that same year, Brexit was dismissed as an impossibility, until it happened. But unlike in the United States, Europe has not done much in the way of asking what happened, and why.

In late 2015, the Leave campaign started putting up placards which showed the exodus of refugees from Syria and other countries through the Balkans, and adorned them with slogans like “Breaking Point” and “Take Back Control.” With Ms. Merkel declaring an open-door policy, the message hit home for millions of worried Britons and Europeans. Not coincidentally, it was around this time that support for Brexit began to tick up.

If members of the chancellor’s government recognizes her complicity, they don’t show it. Ms. Merkel’s diplomats in Berlin treat the looming farewell of the second-biggest economy in the European Union as if it were merely another tiresome bureaucratic process that needs to be handled according to the treaty rules. If they consider the bigger picture at all, it is to think of ways to scare off other union members from following Britain’s lead.

There is, in other words, a near total lack of strategic thinking in the face of the most severe blow the European Union has ever suffered. Britain is not just another member, something officials in Berlin tell themselves repeatedly. Its exit will remove a good part of the union’s international clout. London is not just a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it has significant military and diplomatic forces, as well as Europe’s best intelligence service. And, as a frequent outlier on European Union debates, it was always an important dissenting voice at the table in Brussels.

Strangely, while other member states listened (often grudgingly) to Britain while it sat at that table, they are paying no attention to the message being sent by its departure.

Britain is leaving because too many of its people became unhappy with one of the union’s governing principles, namely the free movement of workers. In a healthy, functioning organization, such a departure would lead the remaining members to revisit that principle. This is especially true if other member states have exempted themselves from that rule in the past.

A bit of background: When the European Union took in 10 mostly central European states in 2004, the German government sought the right to restrict free movement of laborers for a period of up to seven years. Ms. Merkel, then the opposition leader, thought those restrictions did not go far enough to protect the German labor market against an feared influx of low-wage workers from Poland and the Czech Republic. The government should have installed an even “better protection mechanism,” Ms. Merkel insisted in spring 2005.

Britain’s prime minister at the time, Tony Blair, did nothing of this sort; he left his country’s borders open to internal immigrants from every member state, old or new. As a result, over the next decade, around two million people from Central and Eastern Europe migrated to Britain. While they integrated well into the labor market, the influx strained public services like schools, health care and transport.

In 2014, 77 percent of British respondents said they favored a reduction of immigration numbers, which caused Prime Minister David Cameron to call for quotas on internal migration. Ms. Merkel rebuffed him. Strangely opposed to her own, earlier demands, she now insisted that “no compromise” could be made on the principle of free movement of workers.

In other words, Germany has no excuse not to lead a period of union-wide introspection into its own failure to keep Britain in the group, and whether the union should revisit its principles in light of that failure.

The union is not just lacking in vision, its hardball approach to Brexit is likely to backfire. Has anyone in Berlin or Paris thought about the consequences of an economic downturn in Britain after a Brexit, or, much worse, after a “hard,” no-deal Brexit that could entail a customs barrier across the English Channel? It does not take much imagination to realize on whom the Murdoch yellow press outlets (and not only them) will pin the blame for the downfall: stubborn, egoistic, Anglophobic Europeans.

Given what is at stake, Brussels and Berlin are gambling with far too poor a hand. What, after all, is to be gained from a stumbling, humiliated, angry and alienated Britain?

For those of us who still want to see a vibrant, unified Europe, our best hope for the moment is the faint chance for a second referendum on Brexit. If Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan on how to leave does not find approval in Westminster, the question of whether to leave with no deal at all could be put to the British people: Look, is this really what you want?

It is a remote possibility, yet it offers Ms. Merkel her own second chance — an opportunity to do everything she can to show British voters that the European Union is worth keeping. She could begin by endorsing limits — even slight ones — on the free internal movement of labor. Done right, it would send a signal that Brussels and Berlin are listening to voters, while doing minimal harm to Europe’s labor markets.

This would not hurt the principle of free movement as such. It would also be a move that the Germans themselves might find attractive, given that a new batch of countries — this time in the western Balkans — are lining up for membership. Whatever her answer, the choice is pretty clear for the European Union: reform, or face the next revolt.

Jochen Bittner is a political editor for the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a contributing opinion writer.

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Merkel news: German chancellor hit by ‘uprising’ as she losing key CDU vote | World | News

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MPs from her Christian Democrat party (CDU) rejected her chosen candidate as their parliamentary leader and voted instead for a challenger who had promised to be more independent.

The defeat, her first since taking power, was a body blow to Mrs Merkel’s authority and leaves her facing a backbench rebellion as she tries to get her coalition’s legislative programme through parliament.

Conceding her nominee had lost she said: “This is an hour of democracy, and it has its defeats. There is nothing to gloss over.”

Thomas Oppermann, a senior MP from her coalition partner, the Social Democrats (SPD), described the result as “an uprising against Merkel”.

Opposition MPs seized on the defeat as a clear sign that her grip on power was diminishing.

Niema Movassat of The Left Party said: “This is the beginning of the end for Merkel. Her authority is massively damaged.”

Alice Weidel of the nationalist Alternative for Germany party said: “The defeat of Volker Kauder makes Angela Merkel’s loss of power in the CDU clear.

“The twilight of Merkel has finally begun.”

Mrs Merkel had nominated Volker Kauder, an arch-loyalist who has served her as parliamentary leader for 13 years for re-election, and her choice was endorsed by the rest of the party leadership.

But the 69-year-old Mr Kauder was defeated by Ralph Brinkhaus, a relative unknown who said he was standing as the candidate of change, to renew the party.

Mrs Merkel has failed to stamp her authority on the Grand Coalition government and has suffered a bruising summer of power struggles with CSU leader Horst Seehofer.

This culminated in last night’s shock defeat which had previously been considered unthinkable.

Some MPs were expected to rebel in a protest vote against Mr Kauder but most forecasts predicted the challenger could hope for 30 per cent at most.

In the end, Mr Brinkhaus won with 125 votes to Mr Kauder’s 112. Two MPs abstained.

The result calls into question Mrs Merkel’s ability to get legislation through parliament as her 45-seat majority could easily by overturned by a a similar rebellion within her own party.

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This really is the beginning of the end for Merkel

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The next challenge for Mrs Merkel will be key regional elections in Bavaria and Hesse next month. The CDU does not stand in Bavaria, and she will be hoping that predicted losses for the CSU in its home state will weaken her arch-rival Mr Seehofer, and perhaps even see him overthrown as party leader. But losses could also lead to renewed pressure on Mrs Merkel from her Bavarian sister party.

Ahe also faces the prospect of damaging losses for her own party in Hesse, a conservative stronghold, at the hands of the AfD. That could strengthen calls within the party to abandon her centrist approach and return to a more conservative line.

If the losses in Bavaria and Hesse are bad enough, or if her authority continues to ebb away, Mrs Merkel could surprise everyone and choose to bow out gracefully by not standing for re-election as party leader in December. If that happened, the frontrunners to succeed her would be Jens Spahn, the health minister and darling of the party’s right wing, and Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer, the party chairman, who is more in Mrs Merkel’s centrist mould.

Manafort guilty plea: a former spy explains why Manafort is crucial to Mueller’s Russia investigation

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Viktor Yanukovych, a Ukrainian politician, ran a divisive and ultimately successful presidential campaign in 2010.

Over the course of several months, he portrayed his political opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, as corrupt and threatened to jail her. He warned that the election might be rigged and called on supporters to march in protest if he lost. He yelled about the corruption of the political elite and attacked his Western allies, calling instead for closer ties with Russia, with whom he had cultivated deep — and hidden — business ties.

Any of this sound familiar?

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had the same strategic adviser as Yanukovych did six years earlier: Paul Manafort.

Coincidentally or not, Manafort proceeded to implement a nearly identical political playbook to launch Trump into the most powerful office in the world.

On September 14, Manafort pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy — counts that include money laundering, failing to register as a foreign agent, and witness tampering — and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the presidential election.

The plea agreement came after Manafort was found guilty on charges of tax fraud, bank fraud, and hiding foreign bank accounts in a separate trial last month. The charges Manafort pleaded guilty to concern his influence-peddling on behalf of Yanukovych and his pro-Russian political party, the Party of Regions, in Washington and elsewhere — all of which occurred years before Manafort joined the Trump campaign.

The day the plea agreement was announced, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders issued a statement emphasizing that fact — that Manafort’s crimes happened long before he ever worked for the campaign — saying that the plea deal “had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign. It is totally unrelated.”

But while she’s right that the crimes Manafort pleaded guilty to predate his work with the Trump campaign, his decision to plead guilty brings us closer to resolving questions surrounding possible cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian interests.

For Mueller, Manafort is a way to gain detailed insight into the campaign’s most controversial inner machinations, including the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting billed in advance by Russians as a way to collect damaging information on Hillary Clinton, and the decision to weaken the Republican Party’s support for Ukraine (which Russia had invaded) in its official platform.

Manafort may also provide new details about who knew what and when about WikiLeaks’ dissemination of Hillary Clinton’s stolen emails at a key moment during the election.

As a former spy, I know that Manafort was a vulnerable target

Manafort’s guilty plea makes it clear that his actions on behalf of Ukraine’s pro-Russian leader were in lockstep with the larger interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sought to undermine democracy not only in Eastern Europe but in America as well.

So why did this convergence of interests occur? My experience as an intelligence officer tells me that Manafort’s unmitigated greed and his business practices — including money laundering and his frequent use of offshore accounts — highlight vulnerabilities that Russian intelligence officers could have exploited to their advantage, including while he was working for Trump.

At the CIA, where I worked in the Directorate of Operations, we assessed a potential asset’s vulnerabilities using the acronym MICE: money, ideology, coercion, and ego. Any good intelligence officer finds a way to use those vulnerabilities to leverage the asset to work on her or his behalf.

Manafort, it was clear, had multiple vulnerabilities. He liked money, and he hid a lot of it. Prosecutors at his first trial highlighted Manafort’s extravagant lifestyle, trotting out exhibits showing he spent a million dollars on clothing at a single store, bought a $21,000 watch, spent a million dollars on Oriental rugs, used millions to buy and renovate real estate, and shelled out $15,000 on an ostrich leather jacket.

Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president, lived an opulent lifestyle as well — particularly for a lifelong public servant.

After he was forced out of office in February 2014, Ukrainians stormed his residence and discovered luxury cars, an 18-hole golf course, a presidential sauna, and a private exotic zoo, which included several ostriches (no word yet on how Yanukovych, or his ostriches, felt about Manafort’s jacket). Elsewhere, investigators for the new government found a ledger outlining $12 million in unofficial payments to Manafort.

So we know that Manafort had extensive ties to important people, some of whom were in their own compromising situations. Any intelligence officer would recognize the opportunity. Manafort was, quite simply, a ripe target to be exploited.

But what does lobbying for Ukraine have to do with Russia?

Yanukovych and his political party, who were both Manafort’s clients, had a political agenda aligned with Russia and influenced by a flow of Russian money.

The most glaring example of this occurred in November 2013, when Yanukovych decided not to sign an agreement with the European Union — despite popular support in Ukraine for it — and to push, instead, for closer ties with Russia.

The move set off a series of protests in Ukraine that nearly led to a civil war and ended with Yanukovych’s ouster in February 2014. He fled the country and remains in exile, notably, in Russia.

What’s notable as well is that Manafort and his partners pushed that same pro-Russia political agenda with US policymakers and the American press.

Manafort tried to clean up Yanukovych’s image in the West, convincing policymakers that his jailing of Tymoshenko was not politically motivated, for example, and that Yanukovych was the best leader to forge Ukraine’s relationship with Europe — exactly as Putin wanted.

Manafort also did other things to promote Putin’s agenda. According to the Associated Press, Manafort signed a contract in 2006 with Russian oligarch and Putin friend Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska agreed to pay Manafort $10 million a year to develop and execute an influence plan that Manafort promised would “greatly benefit the Putin Government.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported that Manafort carried out similar pro-Russian influence operations in Georgia and Montenegro, two other countries Putin has been keen to keep on a tight leash due to their geographic proximity and historic ties to Russia.

This type of lobbying shares many similarities with espionage.

Both focus on gathering information, and influencing and manipulating people to do one’s bidding. The only real difference is deniability: Intelligence agencies like to hide the fact that they are behind the influence.

Lobbyists often don’t — but Manafort did.

In fact, Manafort’s correspondence, included as evidence in court filings, is littered with spy lingo depicting his efforts at deniability. In a June 2012 email to his associates Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik outlining plans to put together a high-level group of former European leaders to push Ukraine’s agenda, for example, Manafort notes “some informal and covert interaction is possible.”

He also pushed news stories denigrating Yanukovych’s political opponent in the American press. Those, too, needed to be “push[ed]” “[w]ith no fingerprints,” according to court filings.

As the charging documents state, Manafort hid that he and the government of Ukraine were behind efforts “to influence both American leaders and the American public.” He viewed “secrecy for himself and for the actions of his lobbyists as integral to the effectiveness of the lobbying offensive.”

Manafort and his partners even used other companies and individuals as cutouts, allowing them to influence policymakers “without any visible relationship with the Government of Ukraine,” according to the statement of offenses.

This all brings us to the question of collusion

Why did Manafort, a man who loved money, agree to work for Trump for free?

Was someone else paying him secretly? Were the loans he received from Deripaska or others connected to pro-Russian interests, whether business executives or organizations, really meant to be paid back? Or was Manafort in debt to these people, and thus vulnerable to coercion?

Manafort’s lawyers have denied he colluded with the Russian government. But his relationship with Deripaska, the Russian oligarch, included financial debt — which Deripaska wound up pursuing in the courts, and Manafort has denied.

This raises the question of what exactly Manafort owed to people close to Putin.

Of particular note is an email exchange — published by the Washington Post and the Atlantic — in which Manafort offered to brief Deripaska on developments in the Trump campaign.

This was an intriguing offer considering Deripaska’s relationship with Putin, and the fact that Manafort had received millions of dollars from Deripaska to do something. (They have each said the funds were for consulting or business deals that fell apart.)

Mueller may soon learn the answers to some of these questions, and perhaps the American public will learn the answer to the most important question of all: When Manafort worked on the Trump campaign, whose interests was he serving?

Alex Finley (@alexzfinley) is the pen name of a former journalist and an officer of the CIA from 2003 to 2009. She is the author of Victor in the Rubble, a satire about the CIA and the war on terror.

German Chancellor Merkel has a new rival with powerful supporters: her own spy chief

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Rick Noack and Luisa Beck, The Washington Post


  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference following a European Union (EU) leaders summit in Brussels on Feb. 23, 2018. Photo: Bloomberg Photo By Dario Pignatelli. / © 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference following a European Union (EU) leaders summit in Brussels on Feb. 23, 2018.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference following a European Union (EU) leaders summit in Brussels on Feb. 23, 2018.

    Photo: Bloomberg Photo By Dario Pignatelli.

  • photo

Photo: Bloomberg Photo By Dario Pignatelli.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference following a European Union (EU) leaders summit in Brussels on Feb. 23, 2018.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a news conference following a European Union (EU) leaders summit in Brussels on Feb. 23, 2018.

Photo: Bloomberg Photo By Dario Pignatelli.

German Chancellor Merkel has a new rival with powerful supporters: her own spy chief

BERLIN – For a few months this summer, it looked as if German Chancellor Angela Merkel had successfully fought off an attack by her own Interior Minister Horst Seehofer’s over her decision three years ago to welcome refugees. But now it seems as though the revolt inside her government isn’t over and has erupted again over her domestic spy chief.

The turmoil is the result of an interview Hans-Georg Maassen, the head of the domestic security agency, gave to Germany’s most widely read tabloid Bild two weeks ago, following demonstrations and mob attacks on immigrants by far-right and extremist groups in the east German town of Chemnitz. In the interview, Merkel’s spy chief questioned the authenticity of an online video showing the incident and contradicted Merkel who had previously condemned the attacks.

In one of his many statements that fueled the controversy, Maassen had told the German daily Bild “there is no evidence, that the videos spread online about this alleged occurrence are authentic,” he said, without giving any basis as to why he was questioning them.

Prosecutors leading the investigation into the far-right demonstration in Chemnitz said there’s no evidence the video is fake.

Maassen’s statements caused an uproar among German politicians and journalists, some of whom accuse him of playing into a far-right narrative of “fake news” that helped fuel the demonstrations in Chemnitz in the first place. After a German man was killed following a brawl with migrants, far-right groups began demonstrating in Chemnitz on Aug. 26. At one point, some 6,000 people took to the streets, with some openly saluting Hitler as well as assaulting immigrants.

After indirectly – and apparently falsely – contradicting the chancellor, many expected Maassen to be fired within days. Maassen is in charge of a domestic spy agency that has faced the fallout of a number of far-right scandals in recent years, including its failure to stop the far-right NSU terror group from killing 10 people between 2000 and 2007. After the group’s alleged crimes were revealed, a review of thousands of cases brought to light that 849 more people than originally thought could have been killed by right-wing extremists since 1990.

But instead of resigning or being forced out of his job over the latest incident, Maassen has been backed by his boss, Interior Minister Seehofer, the same person who nearly brought down Merkel’s government over her immigration policies.

Given Seehofer’s support for Maassen, any decision to remove Maassen from his office would likely also result in his patron’s ouster or resignation. But Seehofer remains a key figure in Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU) that forms a coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union on the national level. If he was fired or forced to resign, the CSU may ultimately leave the coalition government and break it apart.

At the same time, Merkel is facing pressure from her other coalition partner, the Social Democrats, who have repeatedly called for Maassen to step down. This week, SPD leader Andrea Nahles stated “Mr. Maassen must go, and I tell you, he will go,” citing not only his statements about the Chemnitz video, but calling into question his ability to fight right-wing extremism.

Maassen’s critics argue that he has already become a hero of the far right in Germany. At recent protests, the spy chief who is supposed to be Germany’s top anti-extremism official was applauded for what the far right views as support for their agenda. But for other, more moderate right-wing voters, their support for Maassen appears to be driven more by a dislike for Merkel than by enthusiasm for the controversial spy chief.

Some German media commentators are calling the decision over Maassen’s future a stand-in for much larger questions about where the country stands, and where it’s heading.

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote on Tuesday that the Maassen affair is “a symbol for all who reject Angela Merkel’s stance toward refugee politics. And a symbol for the question, how big the power and influence of the right-wing populists already is in this country.” The German daily Spiegel wrote that Maassen has become a sort of martyr figure for opponents of Merkel and supporters of the far right, some of whom have spread the false narrative that Maassen is slated to be fired because he contradicted Merkel politically. On Tuesday afternoon, party leaders including Merkel and Seehofer are scheduled to meet to reach a final decision about whether Maassen will be fired.

In an article defending Maassen, titled “Will the man who protects us from terror fall?,” the tabloid Bild describes a “domino effect” that would likely ensue, with Seehofer being forced to resign and Merkel’s coalition government thrown into a crisis it may not survive.

US Diplomat Found Dead In Home In Madagascar, Suspect In Custody

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German leaders to review botched firing of spy chief – POLITICO

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A 2014 photo of former domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maaßen and Chancellor Angela Merkel | Olivier Berg/AFP via Getty Images

Decision to remove Hans-Georg Maaßen by promoting him sparked widespread anger.

By Andrew Gray


Chancellor Angela Merkel and her coalition partners said Friday they will review their heavily-criticized decision to fire the head of Germany’s domestic intelligence agency by promoting him to a better-paid post.

The review was prompted by Social Democrat (SPD) leader Andrea Nahles, who had pushed for spy chief Hans-Georg Maaßen to be removed but came under fire within her own party for accepting his transfer to a senior Interior Ministry post.

Maaßen’s fate became the subject of a power struggle with Merkel and Nahles on one side — both wanting Maaßen out — and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer on the other. Seehofer, leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, stood by the intelligence boss as criticism grew over his reaction to anti-immigrant protests in the city of Chemnitz.

Maaßen had contradicted the chancellor’s assertion that there had been a “manhunt” against foreigners in Chemnitz following the death of a German man, allegedly at the hands of at least two refugees. Maaßen also expressed doubts about the authenticity of a video showing local men chasing refugees — yet proved unable to substantiate his claims.

On Tuesday, the three party leaders agreed on a compromise — Maaßen would leave his post as head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution but Seehofer would appoint him as a state secretary in the interior ministry. The decision met with widespread anger and incomprehension, particularly within the SPD, as it meant one of their state secretaries would have to leave the ministry to make way for Maaßen.

“We didn’t create trust, we lost trust. All three of us made a mistake,” Nahles acknowledged Friday, adding the three leaders would now “rethink” the decision.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Merkel supported Nahles’ initiative. “The chancellor finds it correct and appropriate to re-evaluate the current questions and to find a mutually acceptable solution,” he said.

Seehofer also said he was willing to reopen the discussion as long as there is hope of reaching a “common solution.” All three party leaders are keen to avoid an escalation that could bring the government down.

Matthew Karnitschnig contributed reporting from Berlin.

Promotion of German secret service chief evokes the tradition of the Gestapo

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By Ulrich Rippert
21 September 2018

One day after Hans-Georg Maaßen, the former president of Germany’s domestic intelligence service (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, BfV) was relieved from his post and promoted to State Secretary in the Interior Ministry, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union, CSU) announced Maaßen’s new responsibilities.

Maaßen sparked popular outrage and mass demonstrations when he publicly defended last month’s neo-Nazi riot in Chemnitz, denying that the fascists had attacked foreigners. Maaßen’s fascistic statements drew demands that he be fired from his post. But instead, he has been promoted.

At a press conference, Seehofer first praised the ex-intelligence chief for the “close and trusting cooperation” of the past few months and said Maaßen had demonstrated “high merit” as head of an important agency. He then announced that Maaßen, in his new position as State Secretary at the Interior Ministry, would take over responsibility for three key areas of internal security—the federal police, cyber security and public security.

Maaßen will therefore control key areas of the security apparatus and have even more political influence than at his previous job. He will not, however, take over supervision of the BfV. This had been agreed in the coalition committee, Seehofer said. This responsibility will be taken over by another state secretary—Hans-Georg Engelke. Such a division of labor by no means lessens Maaßen’s future influence in the intelligence services. Both Maaßen and Engelke are longstanding members of the Christian Democratic Union and have worked closely together in the past.

In order to make way for Maaßen in the Interior Ministry, another State Secretary has been forced into temporary retirement. The man replaced by Maaßen, Gunther Adler, is a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), previously responsible for construction and housing. Adler stems from former East Germany, had worked closely with the former SPD federal president Johannes Rau and had made a name for himself as a social reformist. The SPD has protested against Adler’s retirement, but Seehofer stated that he alone decides the appointment of state secretaries in his ministry.

A number of media commentaries have criticised the promotion of Maaßen and the reorganisation of the Interior Ministry. The Süddeutsche Zeitung described the events as a “stimulus program for political disenchantment.” The taz referred to “Berlin’s Days of Chaos” and Die Zeit warned of the consequences of an “unsatisfactory compromise”, complaining that the federal government threatened to lose any sense of feeling for the popular mood.

No one, however, has explained what is actually going on. Hans-Georg Maaßen is a right-winger and supporter of the Alternative for Germany (AfD). Just a few days ago, he told the Interior Committee of the Bundestag he had been a member of the CDU for over 30 years, only confirming the close relationship between the AfD and the CDU. Now the AfD will be able to expand its influence with support from the executive levels of the other Bundestag parties, leading media outlets and the state apparatus. Before taking over as head of the AfD, Alexander Gauland was a member of the CDU for 40 years.

Maaßen used his executive post at the BfV to strengthen the AfD and the extreme right-wing circles. He met leading AfD politicians on a number of occasions to give them advice. He swept aside suggestions from some state BfV agencies to name the AfD in the annual secret service report as right-wing extremist and commence surveillance of the party. In fact, it is apparent that he discussed the contents of the BfV report with AfD officials prior to publication.

The AfD’s man, Maaßen, now has a central post in the Interior Ministry. This strengthens the influence of the AfD in the government and the state apparatus and at the same time underlines the right-wing character of the grand coalition government.

Maaßen now assumes responsibility for the federal police, cyber security and public security. In the past, he has repeatedly emphasised that the entire security apparatus must be strengthened and centralised.

Maaßen is now the strongman in the Interior Ministry, committed to centralising the different areas of the security apparatus and building up police-state structures.

A glance at the debates and decisions of the Conference of Interior Ministers last year makes clear what this means. The conference agreed to set up a Joint Counter-Terrorism Center (GTAZ) in Berlin, where representatives of over 40 German security agencies work under one roof.

But leading figures in the grand coalition have demanded even more police-state measures. In particular, they said, more had to be done in the sphere of digital intelligence and a “model police law” should be adopted. The aim is to connect all the databases used by authorities to spy on all persons and groups considered to be suspicious in any way. With the security laws passed last year, it is possible to create entire secret databases that are beyond any democratic oversight.

Another planned measure is so-called online search. It allows the authorities to read hard disks by hacking the computers of “suspects” without the need for physical access. Unlike a house search, involving the confiscation of the disks of suspects, now the person concerned will not know of the online search and therefore be unable to legally defend himself against it.

In future, Maaßen will be responsible for this area, so-called cybersecurity. All the information and data collected will land on his desk. He can have them evaluated and passed on to his friends at the AfD, who are already compiling lists of all those opposed to war, critics of capitalism and socialists.

These measures evoke the ghosts of Germany’s past. When the Nazis came to power in January 1933 and a short time later carried out mass arrests, they were able to rely on lists drawn up long before, during the crisis years of the Weimar Republic. No one should believe such a comparison is exaggerated. Today, the greatest danger is to think that the return of a far-right Nazi-type dictatorship is not possible.

Last year Maaßen was involved in developing a so-called CDU security paper. Under the title “A strong rule of law for the security of our citizens”, it proposes a catalog of measures that would make any dictator proud. The paper begins with the sentence: “Optimum cooperation between the federal government and the federal states, especially the police, intelligence services and the judiciary, is the key success factor for security in our country.”

The separation of the intelligence services and the police, and their decentralization, was one of the principles of the post-war order in Germany and is specifically ignored in this document. This separation of powers was the main conclusion drawn from the fall of the Nazi regime and the criminal role played by the Gestapo.

The German bourgeoisie did not voluntarily come to this conclusion at that time; instead it was insisted by the Allied powers in 1949 in the so-called “police letter.” Since Germany regained its full sovereignty with reunification, the validity of such a separation of powers has been increasingly called into question and rejected.

A few weeks after the devastating terror attack on the Berlin Breitscheidplatz—which, as we know today, was carried out under the noses of the BfV—the then Interior Minister, Lothar de Maizière, called upon the government at the beginning of January last year to set up “a controlling authority over all of the security agencies.” The powers of the federal Criminal Police Office and federal police are to be expanded, the state BfV agencies dissolved and integrated into a centralized domestic intelligence service.

In future the federal police, a paramilitary force which emerged from the federal Border Police and was originally responsible only for border security, is to be empowered to carry out nationwide operations. The German army is also to have more power to intervene domestically. “The debates may have been understandable earlier. Now, no more,” threatened Interior Minister de Maizière.

Maaßen has now taken over responsibility at the Interior Ministry for advancing and enforcing this right-wing agenda of police-state rearmament. The fact that he is not formally responsible for overseeing the BfV does not alter the fact that he maintains the closest connections to the secret service.

While thousands protest on the streets against Maaßen, Seehofer, the AfD and their right-wing racist policies, the ruling parties have agreed to implement this right-wing agenda and establish a police state to suppress growing resistance. The right-wing conspiratorial nature of the grand coalition in Berlin could not be clearer.

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US Diplomat Found Dead In Home In Madagascar, Suspect In Custody

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Strategic intelligence – Wikipedia

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Strategic intelligence

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Strategic intelligence (STRATINT) pertains both to the collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination of intelligence that is required for forming policy and military plans at the national and international level and to qualities that equip leaders to be effective strategists. Much of the information needed for strategic reflections comes from Open Source Intelligence.[1] Other sources include traditional HUMINT (especially in recent years), Signals intelligence including ELINT, MASINT which overlaps with SIGINT/ELINT to some degree, and ‘National technical means of verification‘ (e.g. spysats).

Strategic intelligence pertains to the following system of abilities that, according to Michael Maccoby, characterize some of the most successful leaders in business and government:[2]

  • foresight, the ability to understand trends that present threats or opportunities for an organization;
  • visioning, the ability to conceptualize an ideal future state based on foresight and create a process to engage others to implement it;
  • system thinking, the ability to perceive, synthesize, and integrate elements that function as a whole to achieve a common purpose.
  • motivating, the ability to motivate different people to work together to implement a vision. Understanding what motivates people is based upon another ability, personality intelligence .
  • partnering, the ability to develop strategic alliances with individuals, groups and organizations. This quality also depends on personality intelligence.[3]

In “Transforming Health Care Leadership, A Systems Guide to Improve Patient Care, Decrease Costs, and Improve Population Health,” Jossey Bass, 2013, Maccoby and his co-authors Clifford L. Norman, C. Jane Norman, and Richard Margolies apply strategic intelligence to health care leadership and add to strategic intelligence leadership philosophy and W. Edwards Deming’s four elements of “profound Knowledge”: understanding variation, systems thinking, understanding personality, and understanding knowledge creation. The concept is further developed and applied in Michael Maccoby, “Strategic Intelligence, Conceptual Tools for Leading Change,” Oxford University Press, 2015.

Recent thought leadership on strategic intelligence focuses on the consequences of the modern information age, which has led to the availability of substantial volumes of information than previously encountered. Alfred Rolington, the former CEO of Jane’s Information Group and Oxford Analytica, recommends that intelligence organizations approach the challenges of the modern information age by breaking from their traditional models to become more deeply and continuously inter-linked.[4]Specifically, Mr. Rolington advocates more fluid, networked operating methods that incorporates greater open-sourced information and data in analysis.[5]


  1. Jump up ^ Herman, Michael. Intelligence Power in Peace and War ISBN 0-521-56636-3.
  2. Jump up ^ Michael Maccoby,Successful Leaders Employ Strategic Intelligence, Research Technology Management, Volume 44. No. 3. May–June, 2001. pp . 58-60. The Productive Narcissist, Broadway Books, 2003, chapter 4. “Strategic Intelligence, Conceptual Tools for Leading Change”, Oxford University Press, 2015.
  3. Jump up ^ Michael Maccoby. The Leaders We Need, And What Makes Us Follow, Harvard Business School Press, 2007, chapter 5.
  4. Jump up ^ Alfred Rolington. “Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method,” Oxford University Press, 2013.
  5. Jump up ^ Alfred Rolington. “Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century: The Mosaic Method,” Oxford University Press, 2013.

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Strategic Intelligence for the 21st Century by Alfred Rolington.

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Strategic intelligence is basically information which may help a decision maker prepare policy now and in the future. Its value is that it helps in the development of policy that has positive effects. Strategic intelligence may be obtained in various ways, but in this book the author is advocating the mosaic method.

The mosaic method looks at a current problem and analyzes it from historical, political, economic, and other perspectives which results in a more comprehensive analysis. Using this method has the advantage of providing different insights about a problem or challenge facing a policymaker. What the mosaic method boils down to is a form of analysis which involves using different ways of looking at a particular situation with the intention of coming up with a more complete picture of its reality. It necessitates interpretations from different types of experts to bring about a more realistic picture of a situation. It is suggested that the use of the mosaic model to obtain intelligence will be quite valuable to the police, military, intelligence organizations, and even to some sectors of private industry.

The use of the mosaic method is recommended because it provides better information or intelligence needed to meet the new challenges of the 21st century. These new challenges could be terrorism, cyber-threats, and nuclear proliferation. All of them and some others require a new response from intelligence agencies that previously relied on different methods to obtain information.

This book has three main parts. Part one deals with the changing definitions of information and intelligence. Part two concerns post-modern intelligence activity and has an interesting chapter about new information sources. Part three concerns “Intelligence Review” and demonstrates how business enterprises and policing are related to intelligence activities.

Although all three parts of the book provide interesting commentaries about aspects of intelligence, Chapter Three is most appropriate for those interested in military intelligence (MI). MI is defined as providing information and analysis to help commanders make more effective decisions in times of conflict. Historically, warfare was seen as the birthplace of intelligence. The first recorded and published intelligence methods and processes that are still available to us are Chinese. (53) The author writes that throughout centuries three different levels of MI have developed. One type is strategic intelligence which is important for what might happen in the future and it is concerned with the long view of a situation. A second type is operational intelligence which is concerned with a shorter period of time. The third type is tactical which refers to information most currently needed for a situation such as when a battle is taking place.

The author also makes reference to a number of classic books which have influenced military commanders and policymakers. An example is “The Art of War” attributed to Sun Tzu who is thought to have been a great successful senior commander. The author’s comments about the book note: “This is the most successful book ever published about military strategy and tactics and is still read and referred to in many military academies, intellectual circles, and business schools today.” (55)

Besides indicating the value of using the mosaic method as a tool in obtaining intelligence, the author makes several other good points. For example, he notes that “today’s intelligence analysis can also become overwhelmed by the sheer quantities of available information…. There is an overload of information and data to make collection sometimes seem more important than analysis.” (5) This seems to be recognition that there is a difference between quality intelligence and quantity intelligence which is important to note because too much intelligence or information has the disadvantage of slowing down the securing of the really important information needed by policymakers.

Another commendable suggestion by the author is that there should be more cooperation among different entities, each of which has need for the best type of intelligence. Considering the fact that many of the challenges facing governments today are on a global scale, the author’s advocacy of continued interlinked relationships among entities makes practical sense.

There are many good works concerning intelligence activity and this book is one of them. However, it has the extra advantage of making suggestions about intelligence activity in the twenty-first century. In addition, its scope of commentary includes business entities as intelligence concerns which is not found in many other books. Yet, perhaps one of the biggest advantages of this book is a variety of suggestions about how to improve intelligence capabilities and what changes should be made to bring this about.

CPI Group (UK), Ltd., (Croydon: Oxford University Press 2013), 171 pages, ISBN: 978-0-19-06542-1.

Reviewed by William E. Kelly, PhD, Auburn University

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Soldier whose chemical bomb ‘ended’ careers of two others gets 11-year sentence

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Ryan Keith Taylor pleaded guilty to detonating a homemade chemical bomb in Louisiana last year.  (Vernon Parish Sheriff’s Office)

An American soldier, who the Justice Department says “effectively ended” the careers of two others after detonating a homemade chemical bomb near Fort Polk in Louisiana, will spend the next 11 years in prison.

The 135-month sentence, which is followed by five years of supervised release, was handed to Ryan Keith Taylor on Monday after he pleaded guilty to manufacturing, possessing and detonating a chemical weapon in the Kisatchie National Forest in April 2017.

“Those serving our country put their lives on the line daily to protect us. They should not be put in danger needlessly,” David C. Joseph, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, said in a statement. “The chemical weapon the defendant created in this case is banned under international and national laws because of its terrible effects on the human body.”

Taylor, 24, was first reported to military police after three soldiers conducting a training exercise in the area caught him filming the blast with his cell phone. The device he made, the Justice Department says, contained chlorine gas.

One investigator who responded to the scene ran into trouble after putting a “rock coated in an unknown substance” inside a plastic bag as part of evidence collection.

“The bag immediately popped and the investigator’s plastic gloves and boots began to melt,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “He also began to experience difficulty breathing and his skin started burning.”

Investigators say they also “found bomb-making notes, materials and chemical residue in Taylor’s vehicle, apartment and storage building” during searches.

Another investigator was reported to have inhaled and touched some of the residue, sending him to the hospital.

“The two victims who inhaled the chlorine gas were treated multiple times for their injuries and effectively ended their military careers,” the Justice Department concluded.

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