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[] The New Yorker: Germany's troubled war on terrorism,

Ein sehr amerikanischer Artikel =FCber "Unzul=E4nglichkeiten" in Deutschla=
nd im "war on 
terror" inklusive Beschwerde =FCber den deutschen Datenschutz.

Germany's troubled war on terrorism. 
Issue of 2002-02-11
Posted 2002-02-04 
"Terror" isn't a simple word in Germany, and this winter, when I started t=
to make sense of the arguments I'd heard in Berlin nearly every day since 
September 11th=94arguments about whether it was racist to let policemen 
question Arab students or immoral to send support troops to Afghanistan=94=
was often referred to a large and, by the looks of it, abandoned construct=
site on Niederkirchnerstrasse, in Kreuzberg, the neighborhood where more 
than half of the capital's two hundred thousand Muslims live. All you can 
really see there are a couple of concrete stair and elevator cores that we=
nt up 
in 1998, just before work stopped on Topography of Terror, an archive and 
exhibition center planned for the site (and a building so dauntingly minim=
in design that no contractor could promise to bring it in on budget and, a=
t the 
same time, guarantee that it would not fall down), and a row of stalls tha=
t have 
served as a temporary exhibit of that topography for the past four years. =
exhibit is small, but there is nothing small about the curator's project, =
which is 
to recast the accepted "history of the perpetrators"=94the history of the 
F=FChrers=94to include the ordinary men and women who went to the office 
every day on Niederkirchnerstrasse, back when the street was called Prinz-
Albrecht-Strasse and the empty site was part of a vast complex that was 
headquarters to the Gestapo, the S.S., and the state-security police.
A few old Berliners still refer to the area as 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse, t=
official address and, you could say, reception hall of Nazi state surveill=
and, of course, tourists know it by the name of the exhibit there now. But=
you ask a Berlin cop or, for that matter, an intelligence agent trying to =
come to 
terms with the evidence that Al Qaeda terrorists are still "sleeping" 
comfortably in German cities, including possibly his own, he will call it =
reason," and sometimes even "the good reason," those sleepers are around, 
because it holds the memory of a scrutiny so chilling that today's Germans=
to great lengths to protect themselves from the policemen and "intelligenc=
connections" (the official euphemism for spies) they hire to protect them =
one another. In western Germany, where some eighty per cent of the 
population lives, the right to nearly absolute civil and personal privacy 
amounts to a state theology, part of the canon of the Good German, along w=
the "right" not to fight, even in a just cause, and the "right" not to 
acknowledge that by September 11th the "lessons of German history" had 
become a trope that could be put to shrewd political uses.
Within a few days of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentago=
most Germans knew that at least three of the nineteen terrorists suspected=
having hijacked the planes had been living in Hamburg=94including the 
Egyptian student Mohamed Atta, who is said to have masterminded the 
attacks. Within a few weeks, they knew that Osama bin Laden's German 
network had probably included as many as seventy other sleepers spread 
across most of the big cities of western Germany, and that one hijacker ha=
even been traced to a town in eastern Germany, a part of the country not 
known for extending hospitality or, for that matter, much in the way of sa=
to strangers. Within a few months, they learned that, in the fall of 2000,=
national intelligence service had asked the agents at Hamburg's state serv=
ice to 
put a watch on the apartment where Atta and another man on the suicide 
mission lived. The request had been either ignored or refused. But what no=
one knows, even now, is the extent to which the gaps in German 
security=94which were no greater than our own, merely different, as custom=
and law were different=94were a matter of indifference or turf or sloppy 
intelligence or a weakness in the law or, simply, a reluctance of spies an=
policemen to be seen behaving like spies and policemen, and a reluctance o=
politicians to be accused of Gestapo tactics or Stasi tactics or (if they =
from eastern Germany and had been Stasi) of American or "Zionist" tactics.=
Power in Germany is still so cautiously divided that you would have to put=
most of the country's police and domestic-intelligence services together t=
arrive at anything analogous in its Draconian scope to the F.B.I., and on 
September 11th none of those services had much access to the other's data,=
even to the warnings about a new generation of Islamic terrorists that Ger=
field agents claim to have been sending home from the Middle East for at 
least ten years.
Since the Second World War, the most revered word in western Germany has 
been "transparency," and it is used today to mean that the workings of the=
unified, democratic German state are going to be as transparent as the new=
glass dome that lets daylight into the Reichstag's parliamentary chamber. =
kinds of deals that politicians in other countries negotiate with the door=
closed are public here. This was something that rattled the Americans who 
began to arrive in Berlin in mid-September to work out what both countries=
called the "details of our co=F6peration"=94co=F6peration meaning some agr=
as to what Chancellor Gerhard Schr=F6der's "unconditional support" for 
America's war on terror really meant when it came to extraditing suspects =
accessing bank accounts or trading state secrets. If the Germans found the=
Americans' demands insufferably high-handed, and many Germans did, the 
Americans who came to "co=F6perate" learned in very short order that 
Germany's famous transparency had produced a rhetoric that was insufferabl=
high-minded. And it wasn't just the Americans who got impatient. Europeans=
who came to discuss some sort of consistent and enforceable European Union=
counterterrorism policy were fascinated, exasperated, and occasionally eve=
moved by the earnest discussions of right and wrong, good and evil, that 
seemed to pass for German crisis management. It was a nearly impossible 
project anyway, given the wildly varying definitions of civil liberty in 
Europe=94not to mention the antagonisms between Europol, Interpol, and the=
intelligence services of fifteen different countries whose responses to 
September 11th have run a gamut from Britain's going to war to Belgium's 
refusing to release evidence to the F.B.I. But it's safe to say that most =
of those 
Europeans flew home grateful for their own closed doors.
By mid-November, when the government here nearly fell, over the morality 
(or immorality) of sending soldiers to Afghanistan, the French government 
had managed to avoid the war, and no one seemed to have noticed. Germany's=
police were still under attack because of the three Hamburg sleepers, but =
British had long since buried the news that eleven September 11th terroris=
had entered America from their country, where the only thing known about 
most of them was how effectively they had been able to disappear.
In a way, Germany's problem was simply a more "transparent" version of 
every other country's problem: how to respond to extraordinary times. 
Germany has a huge body of data-protection laws=94by far the strictest of =
E.U. country=94and a network of dataprotection agencies whose job it is to=
insure that, however transparent the state is to its citizens, the private=
 lives of 
those citizens remain opaque. And in ordinary times they do, because data 
protection is part of the postwar political culture, as much a legacy of 8=
Albrecht-Strasse as the fact that hate speech is illegal, or, you could sa=
y, that 
freedom of speech is limited. (The tapes and literature that are the stock=
trade of Germany's neo-Nazi skinheads come, inevitably, from America, 
proving the obvious point that one man's democracy can be another man's 
nightmare.) But the result has been that cells like Mohamed 
Atta's=94collections of legal residents, sometime students, and visiting 
"businessmen," whose rights to privacy are the same as the rights of Germa=
citizens=94in no way constituted the kinds of groups that, on September 11=
could legally be infiltrated, investigated, and shut down. Everyone involv=
ed in 
the Al Qaeda investigation has had, in some way, to accept this. August 
Hanning, the head of Germany's foreign-intelligence agency=94 it's called =
Bundesnachrichtendienst, or the B.N.D.=94joked about the situation to me b=
saying that there were a lot more clauses in the agency's bylaws about the=
information you had to protect than there were about the information you 
could use.
In late September, Otto Schily=94the Interior Minister, and as such the ma=
directly responsible for the government's domestic-intelligence service, t=
Bundesamt f=FCr Verfassungsschutz, and its criminal police, the 
Bundeskriminalamt, or the B.K.A.=94issued proposals for the first of two n=
packages of laws that would ostensibly cover the eccentric exigencies of 
German security in an Al Qaeda world. The proposals were culled from what 
one reporter called the "wishing wells" of police chiefs and spymasters st=
by the fact that so many people seemed to be blaming them for what had 
happened to New York. But they were actually fairly tame when you 
compared them with the security laws already on the books in much of 
Western Europe, and certainly with the laws that John Ashcroft was 
contemplating for the United States. In the event, the three months of deb=
that followed were hardly tame. No one doubted that Germany had to find a 
way to identify and prosecute terrorists, but some people=94most notably 
among the Greens in Schr=F6der's "red-green" coalition=94argued as if the =
for Germany had come down to Osama bin Laden or Heinrich Himmler. It 
was nearly Christmas before the Bundestag finally passed the second of the=
new security packages, and by then they were considerably milder than they=
been in the original drafts. The government called them "balanced," and in=
way they were, since the concessions granted to the Interior Ministry (say=
, the 
right to include some sort of biometric data in passports and identity car=
had been pretty much countered by the demands of the Justice Ministry (non=
of that data would be entered into a central data bank).
Schily told me over a drink the night the first package passed that, to hi=
s mind, 
the problem was never the details=94fingerprinting, screening visas, redef=
the "reasonable" in reasonable suspicion, expanding data banks for 
policemen=94so much as it was getting Germans to accept that "we are not t=
same place we were at the beginning of the First World War." His critics (=
referred to the new laws as the Otto Catalogue, after Germany's thickest m=
order catalogue) prefer to say that it was Schily himself who was moving 
backward, because Schily had begun his career as a left-wing civil-rights 
lawyer. Thirty years ago, he was famous as the leading defense counsel at =
first of the Baader-Meinhof trials. He eventually entered Parliament as a 
Green deputy, and his old friends feel doubly betrayed now that he is a So=
Democratic Interior Minister, running the country's criminal police and 
drafting anti-terrorist laws that touch on their liberties as citizens.
But the truth is that some of the most important politicians in Germany to=
share something of Schily's history, and Germans expect them to. A radical=
youth is part of the bildungsroman of a liberal German political life, and=
list of men and women who enjoyed one is long, starting with the Chancello=
who cut his political teeth as a student protester, and then as a lawyer 
representing, among others, a convicted terrorist who wanted to get out of=
prison, and to keep his own license to practice law when he did. (The terr=
has since been born again as the =E9minence grise of the National Democrat=
Party, or the N.P.D., a barely disguised neo-Nazi party that Schr=F6der's 
government is working hard to ban.) Joschka Fischer, the Foreign Minister 
and arguably the country's reigning statesman, is so popular because of hi=
radical past that last year, when old photographs of him punching a cop at=
squatters' riot surfaced, no one outside the far right even suggested that=
suffer in the polls. In fact, it was probably more damaging to Fischer's 
reputation that he started arguing last fall for the wisdom of a German mi=
"contribution" to the American war on terror. The feeling among many of hi=
admirers was either that Germany shouldn't have an army at all or that its=
Army could lend "support" but should actually enter Afghanistan only for 
"peacekeeping," leaving the war, and the blood, on American and British 
The reality is that there was never a question of Germans being sent to fi=
The Americans didn't ask, and Germany didn't have the fighter planes or mu=
in the way of specialized troops to offer, since, with a few exceptions, 
Germany has what Heiner Wegesin, who runs the Verfassungsschutz in 
Brandenburg, described to me as a "state-of-the-art nineteen-sixties army.=
Never mind that the Bundestag finally got in line behind Schr=F6der and hi=
Foreign Minister and voted to contribute thirty-nine hundred 
troops=94including a hundred special forces, a medical corps, and a naval =
force=94some air transport, and a small fleet of chemical-sniffing Fuchs t=
to the Afghan war. No ground troops left Germany until the new government 
had been installed in Kabul and the U.N. peacekeeping force established, a=
no one had really expected that they would.
In a way, all the arguments about sending troops and passing security laws=
were simply Germany doing what it does best, having an identity crisis. Bu=
September 11th was different from the other crises of the past ten 
years=94which involved committing peacekeeping troops to Bosnia, East 
Timor, Kosovo, and, most recently, Macedonia, in what were the first 
deployments of German soldiers since the Second World War=94because it 
represented not just keeping the peace but acknowledging the option of 
fighting to make peace, even if it wasn't a question of Germans fighting. 
Sometimes, after a day of talking to politicians, I'd decide that the only=
accurate description of Germany's particular war on terror was the French 
poster hanging on the wall of the Paris Bar, the place to which fashionabl=
Berlin politicians, including Schily, often repair after the same kind of =
day. It's 
a poster of a blonde in a gas mask, perched on a toilet with her red panti=
down around her ankles, and it reads, "Dans la temp=EAte du d=E9sert, la p=
s'impose partout" ("In a desert storm, you have to be careful everywhere")=
The intelligence business in late-twentieth-century Germany began as an 
owned-and-operated superpower Cold War business that, for all the obvious 
reasons, happened to be based here, and it didn't really inconvenience the=
Germans, since whatever was illegal within the borders of West 
Germany=94wiretapping, for one thing, wasn't permitted in homes and privat=
offices until the late nineties=94the Allies were happy to supply. West 
Germany's job was to watch East Germany, and, once the two Germanys 
united, the Verfassungsschutz was left with a very limited mandate to 
"observe," but not to police or pursue, publicly identified terrorist grou=
ps, a 
job it did largely by doing what anyone who had a mind to could do: readin=
the German papers and infiltrating skinhead concerts and counting heads at=
meetings of right-wing parties on the edge of legality, like the N.P.D. No=
thought much about reading Muslim papers or going to Muslim meetings, 
though Germany had nearly as big a Muslim population as France and more 
than twice Britain's. Three and a half million was the accepted count, and=
didn't include illegal immigrants, or the thousands of people who arrived 
yearly from all over the Islamic world, applying for refugee status under =
is certainly the world's most welcoming political-asylum policy. (More tha=
twenty-five thousand Afghans have entered Germany in the five years since 
the Taliban seized power; about a thousand have entered France.)
More than three-quarters of Germany's Muslim residents were Turks, the 
children and grandchildren of Turkish Gastarbeiter who were recruited in t=
sixties and seventies to provide the unskilled labor for West Germany's 
"economic miracle," and stayed. They were not citizens by birth, had almos=
no hope of becoming citizens, and, in the main, kept out of the kinds of 
trouble that could get them sent "home" to villages few of them had ever s=
In fact, the Turks were regarded as a comically conservative 
population=94good people, calm people, hardworking law-and-order people 
who were grateful to be in Germany. And they were certainly not extremists=
unless you counted, say, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which ran protectio=
rackets focussed mainly on other Turkish Kurds; or the "Caliph of Cologne,=
" a 
self-styled Islamic nationalist and convicted criminal named Metin Kaplan,=
who declared a Muslim state in what most people think of as the Rhineland;=
or the large and publicly respectable Islamic Federation, which provided c=
for a fanatical fundamentalist group called Milli G=F6r=FCs, and is now su=
the teachers who, by a court decision in Berlin last year, are permitted t=
o teach 
the Koran in the public schools of Germany's restored capital.
On September 11th, it was still illegal for the police to shut down the 
"religious charities" or mosque societies that were not doing anything 
dangerous in Germany but were publicly raising money for terrorist groups 
abroad=94including, in the middle of Berlin, a Hamas charity with at least=
members and a Hezbollah charity with more than a hundred and fifty. 
Germans have been understandably proud of their tolerance of foreigners (i=
not of the citizenship laws that effectively kept those foreigners "foreig=
and it was considered bad politics to suggest that Germany was buying the 
enviable safety within its borders by providing a safe haven for the kind =
fanatics who don't think twice about the safety of other people, even, 
demonstrably, other Muslims. By now, the list of North African and Middle 
Eastern extremist groups in Germany is so long that when a friend at the 
B.N.D. ran through it for me I lost count somewhere around fourteen.
The fact is that Germany's best laws, like any democracy's best laws, prot=
its worst people, and one reason Germans do not have foreign terrorism in 
their cities is that the terrorists passing through on their student visas=
business visas have not been willing to risk that protection by blowing up=
something here. There has been an illusion of safety in Germany=94safety f=
sleepers, safety for policemen, safety for the politicians=94and September=
shattered that illusion. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is Schr=F6der's chie=
f of 
chancellery and, by all accounts, one of the most powerful people in his 
Cabinet, told me that in the past the B.N.D. had had no official assignmen=
t to 
investigate militant Islam, and maybe as a result no one had really known =
militant Islam in Germany was. He said, dryly, "Perhaps it is a special fe=
of German 'transparency' that there is no real, open relation with our Mus=
communities, especially in Berlin. The fact is that there is integration o=
nly to a 
small extent."
This was, if anything, an understatement. Most Berliners I know refer to 
Afghans as Arabs. In East Berlin, where twelve years ago the only immigran=
in evidence were a couple of thousand North Vietnamese workers housed in 
freezing, dilapidated barracks, there is no integration at all, or, you co=
uld say, 
no immigrants. Even today, the state of Brandenburg, which surrounds Berli=
has more skinheads with police records than it has Muslim asylum seekers=94=
six hundred skins, four hundred asylum seekers. And one of the reasons tha=
Imams from the Islamic Federation won the right to teach the Koran in the 
city's public schools may be that so few accredited German-speaking teache=
could. Robert von Rimscha, who runs the national political desk at the 
Tagesspiegel, thinks that the wall of silence between Germany's Christian =
Muslim worlds dates from November 9, 1989, the day the real Wall fell, 
because that was when Germany stopped taking a lot of serious things 
seriously. Not just militant fundamentalism but things connected to milita=
fundamentalism, like the proliferation of nuclear or biological weapons in=
Muslim world. "Germany felt peaceful and secure," he told me. "It was the 
end of history. We didn't feel the obligation to monitor. We didn't have 
embassy bombings. We didn't have the U.S.S. Cole. Why turn ourselves into =
Transparency does not necessarily make citizens smarter or politicians mor=
sensitive. People at the B.N.D. complain that for years there was no inter=
est at 
home in the kind of intelligence they were gathering about the connections=
between criminal networks and terrorist networks, or, more precisely, betw=
the practical clandestine life of one terrorist and the traffic in weapons=
technology, drugs, illegal immigrants, laundered money, and protection on 
which his life depends. It has been four years now since a Paris magistrat=
named Jean-Louis Brugi=E8re ended an eight-year trek through the muck of h=
own country's diplomatic courtesies and the French learned that one 
Samsonite suitcase containing one bomb, smuggled onto a plane carrying 
nearly two hundred passengers, could easily involve the handiwork of terro=
specialists in half a dozen countries. But four years have not done much t=
persuade anyone's secret services to pool their information. On the eve of=
euro, with hundreds of Al Qaeda suspects in Western Europe and almost no 
solid evidence on which to arrest most of them, Germany's spies were 
grumbling less about the data-protection laws than about protecting the da=
they had=94from everybody else's spies, from their own police. And the tru=
th is 
that some cops here were so unequipped for the job at hand that it passed =
normal when, as the Wall Street Journal reported, a B.K.A. policeman, 
staking out the Hamburg apartment of a Syrian "import-export" man assumed 
to have been bin Laden's local banker, had to ask a reporter waiting on th=
street if he knew how to get hold of the Syrian's cell-phone number. (He w=
in fact, startled to learn that the reporter already had it.)
The B.N.D. was especially worried about leaks. One agent told me, "Some of=
our best sources were compromised the minute they became 'visible' to the 
police." This, of course, left a pool of informers exposed, and confirmed =
agent's opinion that the criminal police were a leaky outfit, that they di=
have the discipline of good spies and couldn't be trusted with the kind of=
intelligence that might be traced to an operative working deep cover in th=
Middle East. On the other hand, he allowed that not many sleepers were lik=
to be caught in Germany until the police and the secret services got more 
access to each other's data, and the legal means to compare it. The proble=
m, he 
said, wasn't so much the legacy of 8 Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse. (The B.K.A. h=
no authority to gather intelligence or run undercover cops or mount a stin=
g, or 
even to initiate an investigation, without a court order, but no one I tal=
ked to 
suggested giving the police more power, including most of the policemen.) =
he saw it, the problem was the reluctance of cops and spies to test what a=
they already had by picking up the phone and asking for something. He told=
me, by way of an explanation, about the courts rejecting a B.K.A. request =
investigate one suspected terrorist on the ground that its evidence had be=
obtained illegally, through a source in the B.N.D. This had happened a yea=
ago, but he hadn't forgotten. The real legacy may be that, by now, no one =
Germany is as anxious about breaking laws as the men and women who are 
supposed to enforce them.
Spies obviously have much broader powers than policemen; they have the 
special license that comes with clandestinity=94which is to say, with not =
accountable. But Germany's spies have been hamstrung since the Wall fell, 
not so much by transparency as by neglect. Their budget was cut, and then,=
with Schr=F6der's election, in 1998, they lost their recruiting office and=
themselves left with a lot of fancy technology but no real money to hire a=
train agents in the languages and complicated cultures of the Middle East.=
result was that Germany came to depend on its allies for field 
intelligence=94on Britain and America and, most of all, Israel, which argu=
fields more agents and informers in the Muslim world than any other countr=
and has the advantage, in the Mossad, of a dependably "leakproof" secret 
service. There were, of course, thousands of East German spies available a=
1989=94more than ninety thousand unemployed Stasi, not to mention the thre=
hundred thousand informers responsible for filling some eighty-eight milli=
pages of microfilmed reports. But East Germans were never really an option=
The decision was made early on to avoid what one agent described to me as 
"the secret-service mind-set of the East," by which he meant that you coul=
be sure whose interests a spy from the East, dropped into a Muslim country=
would be pursuing, and you certainly couldn't be sure that he'd pursue the=
with anything like reliability or discretion or enthusiasm for Germany's 
foreign policy, especially when it had to do with supporting America. Even=
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the Chancellery, mentioned that the "remnants =
resentment" in Germany's eastern states were strong. He said that if I loo=
to East Germany for the kind of co=F6peration that came from "gratitude to=
United States, the perception of responsibility toward the United States,"=
 I was 
going to be disappointed.
When we talked, the old East German Communist Party=94the Party of 
Democratic Socialism now=94had just won nearly fifty per cent of the votes=
the east of Berlin in the local elections, making the Communists the third=
largest party in Germany's new capital and, as it turns out, a partner in =
coalition that could easily be in power for the next five years. No one ha=
expected this to happen. Berliners in the west had taken it on faith that =
Party was dying. But, once it did happen, everyone knew why: it wasn't the=
unemployment in East Berlin, or the hard times, or even the endemic 
corruption of the Christian Democrats who had run Berlin before; it was 
Gerhard Schr=F6der, who had promised George W. Bush his "unconditional 
Hansj=F6rg Geiger, the West German jurist who oversaw the opening of the 
Stasi archives and went on to head the Verfassungsschutz and the B.N.D., i=
now the state secretary running the Justice Ministry and, since September 
11th, has been its liaison to Schr=F6der's anti-terrorism task force. He t=
hinks that 
the "problem of political culture" was also a West German problem, given t=
awkwardness, for Germany's leaders, of having had to respond to terrorism 
alerts coming in from agents in countries with which German industry was 
doing a vigorous business in products most kindly described as "dual-use 
chemicals." It's been reported that eighty, or even ninety, per cent of th=
technology and the ingredients for Iraq's chemical-weapons industry came 
from West Germany and that, even after the Gulf War, sales continued to th=
Middle East. People at the B.N.D. told me that, if September 11th has had =
lasting effect in Germany, it was to persuade a political class still cele=
the demise of the old enemy that it had new enemies, some of whom it had 
helped maintain, and that it might even be dangerous=94dangerous to 
Germans=94to keep welcoming those enemies into Germany's tolerant cities 
with the same indifferent hypocrisy it had shown when they ordered 
Germany's pesticides and fertilizers.
In a country still so nervous about displays of power that it is considere=
unseemly even to talk about turning Berlin's Philharmonic into a national 
orchestra, it isn't surprising that most of the people charged with identi=
investigating, arresting, and prosecuting terrorists don't usually get any=
near the capital, or even anywhere near one another. Germany has as many 
spies and cops as the next country. Eight thousand people are attached to =
Verfassungsschutz and the B.N.D., five thousand to the B.K.A. But the old 
Allied imperative of 1949=94power in Germany must never again be 
centralized=94still holds. The Verfassungsschutz is headquartered in Colog=
the B.N.D. in Pullach, about half an hour from Munich; the Federal 
Prosecutor in Karlsruhe; the B.K.A. in Wiesbaden; and the state security 
offices of the B.K.A. in a town called Meckenheim, in North Rhine-
Westphalia, which most Germans have yet to locate on a map.
Some of the men and women who run those agencies claim never to have met 
before the attacks last year. After September 11th, they were meeting dail=
along with the chief of military intelligence; Schily's state secretary an=
d his 
counterpart, Hansj=F6rg Geiger; Frank-Walter Steinmeier (who as chief of 
chancellery oversees the B.N.D.); and a former head of the Hamburg 
Verfassungsschutz named Ernst Uhrlau, who is Schr=F6der's federal-security=
co=F6rdinator. Now they are down to once a week at the Chancellery, and th=
logistics of these meetings have, you could say, "centralized" intelligenc=
e in 
Gerhard Schr=F6der's office, an irony not lost on the various chiefs of se=
who make the trip and often complain that in a "normal" country, with fede=
agencies situated in the capital, they would be having lunch or sharing a =
night drink and even sharing some of the useful information that is not li=
to get passed along in a phone call or an interoffice E-mail. They say the=
might all profit from a little informal co=F6peration, if for no other rea=
son than 
that so much of what a spy or a policeman does is not necessarily convenie=
for a German Chancellor to hear.
It all depends on what you mean by transparency. Steinmeier, who seems lik=
a man of steely platitudes until you type your notes and realize how much =
said, saw me after one of those weekly meetings. According to his press 
secretary (a young Protestant theologian with whom I had an agreeable 
argument on the nature of evil), our interview was part of an effort to ma=
Germany's support for America transparent, though Steinmeier himself 
allowed that America was not really very transparent to him. He had recent=
had a meeting with Daniel Coats, the new, and ardently Christian, United 
States Ambassador, and came away feeling that, while the Ambassador was 
very nice, it was remarkable that "we are of such a different mentality." =
At the 
time, it was rumored that the one real sticking point between the police a=
the intelligence services of the two countries was banking. Germany can 
freeze assets=94it has frozen more than two hundred accounts since 
September=94but the law makes it nearly impossible to document, let alone 
trace, the kinds of banking transactions that might open a paper trail thr=
the terror network. In fact, there is no central data base in which the na=
and numbers of private or corporate accounts in Germany are registered, 
though this has less to do with the data-protection laws than with the 
reluctance of Germany's big businessmen (and political patrons) to apply a=
little transparency to their own banking practices, or to have their asset=
s traced 
to Switzerland, next door.
The F.B.I. agents who arrived in September are still digging, and they are=
reportedly still complaining more about banking secrecy than about any of =
other obstacles to what is publicly described as a dandy relationship with=
German counterparts=94who are now convinced that, because of this, the F.B=
is keeping information from them. "The Germans are getting little intellig=
from the Americans for one reason=94because they are giving little" is how=
reporter I know put it. But, in fact, the German banking system is so arch=
that no one besides the bankers has that intelligence to give. Banking was=
minimally covered in Schily's anti-terrorism packages, and foreign police =
astounded to learn that a German policeman or intelligence agent trying to=
trace money or identify a suspect's accounts still has to submit a request=
every one of the country's three thousand banks=94a procedure that is unli=
to inspire much efficiency, let alone much interest, in your average 
investigator. A lawyer who covers money-laundering issues for the 
Association of German Banks told me that, with four hundred million bank 
accounts in the country, there was simply no available technology for 
constructing a central computerized data base, but his argument=94which is=
argument of most German bankers=94seems a little ingenuous in a world wher=
computers are tracking the universe and describing the human genome.
On the other hand, the police point out that the kind of banking that terr=
are likely to do is more in the spirit of "underground banking," or, as it=
sometimes called, "corner-store banking": the guy with the corner store in=
Jidda or Oran gets the money from someone there and then calls his cousin 
with the corner store in Hamburg or Frankfurt, who advances the money to t=
terrorist and eventually gets it back, in one way or another, from the guy=
home. It's a system based on family and clan and mosque connections, and i=
proves, if nothing else, that the cell phone and the Internet caf=E9 will =
take a 
terrorist only so far in the global village=94because the real global vill=
age is the 
village that, in the end, will hold you, or your cousin, accountable if yo=
debt's not paid.
And it's certainly not a system that lends itself to the kind of computer 
profiling known to Germans as Rasterfahndung, which was resurrected last 
fall, some twenty-five years after it was used in a not very effective att=
empt to 
profile left-wing German terrorists, was contested by German liberals, and=
inspired the data-protection legislation that effectively banned it. Schil=
y, who 
at the time was a furious critic of data profiling, says he has since deci=
ded that 
"if there's a dead man on the sidewalk, and witnesses say that the murdere=
was very tall, with blue eyes, dark hair, and a big nose, you expect the p=
to look for a person with blue eyes, dark hair, and a big nose," and you d=
think Germans are demonizing tall, dark, blue-eyed people with big noses. 
But a lot of Germans do think it. The Raster profile of a likely Al Qaeda 
sleeper is a Muslim male between eighteen and forty. He carries a passport=
from one of the Arab states, enters the country on a student visa, enrolls=
 in a 
college, probably a technical college, and does well, though not well enou=
to risk being singled out. At one time or another, he finds a job at an ai=
rport or 
a utility company=94someplace "useful." He crosses on green and pays his b=
in cash and his taxes on time=94even his yearly radio and television tax, =
no self-respecting German student would ever think of paying=94and he alwa=
pitches in when the neighbors hold a block party or need someone to knock =
doors collecting money, the way they are doing now for the families of 
Germans who died in New York in September.
Peter-Michael Haeberer, who runs the Berlin police, has been testing that 
profile against a narrowing list of suspects. I was told that he'd started=
two hundred and ninety possible Berlin sleepers, but he was certainly almo=
through it when the city=94under pressure because of a complaint filed by =
Muslim students=94called a halt to Raster profiling late last month. He ha=
s also 
been trying to get some sense of what, to his mind, are the city's most li=
targets. He suspects that they aren't its buildings. "There's nothing as d=
or symbolic as the World Trade Center in Berlin" is Haeberer's view. In fa=
he has come to believe that the likeliest targets are places like the wate=
which filter water to the city center through a complicated system of open=
canals, or the electricity board, which turns out to be the only source of=
for the entire eastern half of the city, or any other utility that might i=
nterest a 
young man with a working knowledge of airports or waterworks or electricit=
boards, and the freedom that comes from living in a country that, on 
September 11th, was still coming to terms with the topography of its own 

Marcus Heitmann
European Institute for IT-Security (EURUBITS)
Ruhr-University Bochum
IC 4/44
Universitaetsstrasse 150
44780 Bochum

Tel +49 (0)234 - 32 - 261 82
Fax +49 (0)234 - 32 -143 89
Mob +49 (0)175 - 520 605 9


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