Berlin — To appreciate the scope and impact of a joint investigative series by the highly regarded German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and German public television station NDR on the depth of American trespasses in this country, you don’t even have to read a word of the reports, or watch the videos.
All you really have to do is take a look at the U.S. Embassy rebuttal of the series. The multi-part, multi-media series was put on line beginning Friday morning, though some parts weren’t up until evening. And others are said to be coming during the coming weeks. The U.S. Embassy in Germany press office statement came out just after 3 p.m.
U.S. Embassy Berlin
November 15, 2013
U.S. Embassy Statement on “Secret War” Allegations
The article in today's Sueddeutscher Zeitung, ‘The Secret War: Germany and the Role of America,’ is full of half-truths, speculation, and innuendo. For many decades there have indeed been military facilities in Germany for our mutual security under Status of Forces Agreements, but the fact that they are closed to the public in no way implies that illegal activities are being organized there. Although we do not comment on specifics, as a matter of policy the United States does not engage in kidnapping and torture, and does not condone or support the resort to such illegal activities by any nation. Germany is one of the closest allies and partners of the United States, cooperating in areas ranging from counter-terrorism to international economic sustainability. Outrageous claims like those raised in this article are not helpful to the German-American relationship and to our shared global agenda.”
The newspaper reaction to that reaction: "The American Embassy also comments and rejects the reports as innuendo. They are stating the the United States "are not kidnapping and torturing on principal." This is a daring claim. Only seven months ago a commission made up of Democrats and Republicans called it "undeniable" that the United States tortured inmates following the terror attacks of 2001. Even President Barack Obama said in 2009 that the American practice of water boarding was torture."
The website does note that almost 20 reporters started gathering this series more than a year ago.
So it doesn't look as if the newspaper and television station will be backing away from their reporting just yet.
In any case, the U.S. embassy makes a strong statement, and takes on some of Germany's most respected journalists.
Why? One piece of the SZ English language version of the series begins:
“Tapping Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone would seem like an outrageous breach of trust—except that there have been so many other, deadlier and lesser-known, breaches of trust wrought by the U.S. in Germany in recent years.
“Where to begin? There’s the worldwide secret drone war—a massive break with international law. Then there’s the large and growing shadow army of private spies. And, finally, the asylum seekers, whose knowledge is unwittingly used to drop bombs in their home countries.
“The worst part? Germany doesn't even seem to mind.”
The series goes on at great detail in each of these areas. At times, it advances with videos, including one showing it's reporter being stopped from shooting video near the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, or near a number of bases, and allegedly secret bases, of both the United States and the United Kingdom around Germany.
The series reports that the $3 billion a year the United States spends in Germany pay for everything from bases for the 43,000 U.S. soldiers stationed here to the American drone campaign in Africa. According to the newspaper’s English language version, that drone program works like this:
“First they practice with their 57 drones getting ready for the real thing. When they receive intelligence on potential targets and suspected terrorists, they deliver that information to U.S. intelligence officers, also based in Germany. And these soldiers are responsible when innocent civilians in Africa die as a result. Moral issues aside, the fact remains: without these bases in Germany, the U.S.’s ‘war on terror’ would not be the well-oiled machine it is now. Germany acts as the headquarters for secret wars in Africa, the European hub for CIA operations and the training ground for drone attacks worldwide. And Germany’s location is indispensable.”
There is much, much more, here. And the website notes that stories will be coming out during the next several weeks.