Three members of the German Federal Intelligence Service (the BND) were
fired after it was discovered that they had planted a computer program on the
PC of an Afghan government minister, and were monitoring his communications.
The use of such techniques in espionage work is much talked about, but rarely
seen exposed. The incident was revealed via a German parliamentary
investigation of BND operations. Ever
since World War II, Germany has kept close watch on its intelligence agencies.
This is to prevent the reappearance of something like the dreaded World War II
era Gestapo (Nazi secret police.) During the Cold War, this sometimes made it
difficult for the intelligence services to fight foreign spies, or domestic
terrorism. At times, the restrictions were loosened temporarily, in order to
deal with an obvious and immediate danger
(like the domestic leftist terrorists of the 1970s). But once that threat was
taken care of, the restrictions were resumed. After the Cold War, it was
discovered that the East German espionage efforts were very successful in West
Germany. The East Germans developed a secret police service (the Stasi) the
Gestapo would have been proud of, and Germans today are both ashamed of that,
and believe it justifies keeping their intel people on a short leash.
has been given some slack to deal with Islamic terrorism, but parliament, and
the media, continue to watch over the secret police, just in case. The current
scandal goes back to the fact that six of the twenty Afghan cabinet minister
speak German, and spent part of their exile (during the Soviet invasion) in
Germany. Some of these ministers went to German universities and all have
contacts in Germany. Why this would warrant this degree of surveillance was not