[A-List] Germany: intelligence exposé
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed Sep 15 04:37:09 MDT 2004
German spies furious over revelations of incompetence
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
The Independent, 15 September 2004
The author of a book that exposed Germany's equivalent of MI6 as amateur
spies obliged to rummage through dustbins and sell toasters in their quest
for intelligence has been threatened with prosecution for betraying state
Germany's federal prosecutors confirmed yesterday that they had begun an
investigation into Norbert Juretzko, 50, a former agent for the BND foreign
intelligence service, whose whistleblowing critique of his former employers
was published last week. Mr Juretzko's 382-page work, Fit For Certain Duties
Only, is an at times hilarious account of his time as a BND agent in the
immediate aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 when German
intelligence worked with the CIA to gather information, in farcical
circumstances, from the departing Soviet army.
Its revelations have so embarrassed the BND that the service has taken steps
to prosecute. "An intelligence service cannot accept a situation in which a
former agent betrays secrets of the service and endangers sources," August
Hanning, the BND's president, said last week.
Mr Juretzko's account begins in 1990 when the BND decided that a camper van
was vital to enable its agents to carry out intelligence-gathering work
around Soviet bases in the recently collapsed East Germany. However, the van
could not be delivered to Berlin from BND headquarters near Munich because
it was a Friday afternoon and the driver had gone home.
The author describes how the head of American intelligence in Berlin
exploded with rage at the BND's failure to supply the van: "Are you sure
that you are working for an intelligence service?" he is quoted as asking
the BND men. "For God's sake go out and buy yourselves a goddam camper van,"
he added, throwing down $100,000 in notes.
Mr Juretzko explains how he and his BND colleagues bought a van but found
themselves obliged to work like "dustmen", touring the rubbish dumps around
Soviet bases and sorting through bins in search of top- secret documents.
When that approach failed, the BND agents tried another ruse: they packed
their van with electric razors, video recorders and toasters, turned up at
the bases and bartered the items with soldiers who supplied them with
documents in exchange.
The BND's objections to the book are thought mainly to stem from the
author's first-hand account of one of the service's most painful episodes,
which peaked in the mid-1990s when one of the agency's top men was strongly
suspected of being a Soviet spy.
Volker Foertsch, then head of the BND's counter intelligence unit, was
heavily implicated by Mr Juretzko and fellow agents as being a KGB mole. The
allegations were never proved but the affair badly dented the BND's
reputation and Mr Foertsch retired.
Mr Juretzko has admitted his book is an attempt to settle scores. The BND
suspended him in 1997 after he was convicted of misappropriating agents'
funds and concealing informants' identity, a move he says was to protect his
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