Intelligence: Another Cold War Ghost

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August 15, 2012: Germany recently arrested a 60 year old German man and charged him with spying at the NATO Ramstein Air Base. The accused was found to have transferred classified data to a computer at his home. Increasingly, Ramstein is becoming a hub and headquarters for NATO military activities and a prime target for foreign spies. There was no official word on who the suspected spy was working for, but the story was he had been offered millions of dollars to obtain large quantities of NATO data for Russian intelligence. This would be no surprise.

In the last decade Russia has earned considerable criticism throughout Europe because of its growing espionage activities. Most of the Russian spying these days is in search of new technology, either military or civilian. During the Cold War the Russians also sought military secrets, which are not seen as worth much to the Russians these days: except for NATO. Inside Russia NATO is depicted as the new international foe, constantly scheming on how to do major harm to Mother Russia.

Germany takes this espionage threat seriously, as Germany has been infested with Russian spies for over half a century. Sometimes it gets a little surreal. For example, last year the Russian government reported that two Russians (a married couple) arrested in Germany last October were not active Russian agents but retired Cold War era spies. The two 51 year olds were Russians sent to Germany in the 1980s to serve as "sleepers" (agents that spend most of their time doing nothing, until activated from time-to-time for some simple, but essential, mission). The Germans decided to prosecute anyway. While Germany let a lot of its own Soviet era spies off easy, there is still a lot of animosity towards Russian spies. That's because Russia is still very much involved with espionage. In Germany that means stealing economic secrets, which hurts the German economy. The Germans are not in a forgiving mood because of this Russian aggression.

 


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