Der Aufstieg des Südens – Umbruch in der globalen Machtverteilung?
China hat die USA bereits als stärkste Volkswirtschaft der Welt
(nach Kaufkraftparitäten) überholt. Unter den ersten zehn Ländern
befinden sich fünf Schwellenländer. Diese fünf weisen ein höheres
Volkseinkommen aus als die fünf führenden Länder der alten Metropolen.
Im Jahr 2030 wären die Schwellenländer noch weiter vorne.
+ Nimmt der “alte Westen” diesen Epochenbruch hin oder wird er
seine ganze Macht einsetzen, um die Transformation aufzuhalten und
+ Wie weit nähert er sich dabei dem Einsatz militärischer Mittel
auch in höchster Dimension?
+ Welche Chancen haben die Länder des Südens, die neoliberalen
Maximen der Weltwirtschaft zu verändern?
+ Inwieweit können sie sich selbst lösen von neoliberalen Konzepten?
Conrad Schuhler; G7 und der Umbruch der Weltordnung – vor neuen
Jörg Goldberg; Die Emanzipation des Südens – Neuerfindung des
Anna Ochkina (Moskau); Niedergang des Neoliberalismus – die
BRICS-Länder als Kern einer alternativen Weltordnung?
Walter Baier (Wien); Europas Rolle bei der globalen Neugestaltung
Podiumsdiskussion mit den ReferentInnen.
Moderation: Leo Mayer
Im Sommer 2015 treffen sich die Staatschefs von Deutschland, Italien, Frankreich, Großbritannien, Japan, Kanada und den USA zum G7-Gipfel im Schloss Elmau in Bayern. Unter dem Schutz von Polizei und Militär wollen die Staats- und Regierungschefs auf dem Gipfeltreffen nach Außen Geschlossenheit demonstrieren und medienwirksam die Durchsetzung ihrer gemeinsamen Interessen organisieren.Wie bei den vergangenen Gipfeltreffen werden tausende Menschen gegen das Treffen protestieren und ihren Widerstand auf die Straße tragen.
Bei der Informationsveranstaltung soll es um den Hintergrund des G7 Gipfels und dessen Akteure gehen. Auch gibt es aktuelle Neuigkeiten zu den geplanten Protestaktivitäten.
Achtet auf weitere Ankündigungen!
Am Dienstag, dem 21.4., findet ab 19.30 Uhr im Rosenheimer “Z”, Innstr. 45a, ein Informationsabend zum Treffen der sog. “G7″-Staaten statt, das Anfang Juni in Schloss Elmau abgehalten wird.
Auf Einladung der Attac-Gruppe Rosenheim referiert am 21.4. Walter Listl, Publizist und Mitarbeiter des Instituts für sozial-ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung (ISW) München, über den G7-Gipfel, dessen kritische Gegenbewegung, die seit Monaten an einem Programm für friedliche Proteste arbeitet, sowie die Kampagnen, diese Gegenbewegung zu erschweren und in Misskredit zu bringen.
Zur Zeit planen die G7-Kritiker, teils in München, teils vor Ort in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Alternativgipfel, Demonstrationen, Sternmarsch, eine Lesung “Gegenstimmen”, Camps und Aktionen. Zu den Demonstrationen werden mehrere zehntausend Menschen erwartet. Neben zahlreichen Organisationen, darunter Gewerkschaften, Stiftungen, Parteien, Friedens-, Umwelt-, Künstler- und kirchlichen Gruppen, beteiligen sich sowohl das ISW als auch Attac an den Vorbereitungen, z.B. zum Alternativgipfel, zu dem am 3. und 4. Juni auch internationale Gäste erwartet werden, darunter Jean Ziegler (früher UN-Sonderberichterstatter für das Recht auf Nahrung; Bücher “Der Aufstand des Gewissens”, 2011; “Wir lassen sie verhungern”, 2012).
Die Treffen der Regierungschefs großer Industrienationen haben seit 1975 Tradition, um informell über Fragen internationaler Politik und Wirtschaft zu beraten. Kritiker bemängeln dabei den Ausschluss von Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern und 2015 auch Russlands, die fehlende Legitimation, die Aussperrung der Zivilgesellschaft, die hohen Kosten für die Steuerzahler (ca. 100 Mio. Euro pro Gipfel) und dass Probleme wie Klimawandel, globale Armut, Militarisierung, Wirtschaftskrisen, Ressourcenverknappung und Flüchtlingskatastrophen von den G7-Staaten eher verstärkt als gelöst werden.
Der Eintritt ist frei!
(This is an item from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
After leading an effort to derail the nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said earlier this month that the U.S. could significantly damage Iran’s nuclear capabilities in a short bombing campaign lasting only “several days.”
I spoke to many declared and potential Republican presidential candidates this weekend in New Hampshire and found mixed sentiments on Cotton’s assertion that an attack on Iran would be quick and easy.
“Now, I don’t know if Tom is right that a military action to take out the nuclear facilities would be a couple of days or if it would be a week,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex. “I think he is correct that it would be a limited military engagement that could be done primarily with overwhelming air power.”
The strongest disagreement came from Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who argued that although the U.S. would prevail in any conflict with Iran, such a course of action would be dangerous. “I think a military attack on Iran opens up pandora’s box,” said Graham. “You’ve got to assume the worst, not the best. They could attack our bases in the region. They could cause disruption in the Gulf of Hormuz [sic — the Strait of Hormuz connects the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman]. It would be a messy affair.”
Former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina said, “I think a bombing campaign would be very difficult … as you may well know it’s not clear we could even reach a lot of the facilities.” Fiorina stressed that she would prefer increased unilateral sanctions over a military strike. Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared that, “I don’t think anything is quick and easy there but to me this deal is unacceptable.”
In addition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal asserted that while he is “a strong supporter of Senator Cotton,” when “it comes to this specific issue, I don’t know what the military believes in terms of how long it would take them,” emphasizing that such a call would be determined by classified intelligence.
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton strongly agreed with Cotton, declaring that he is “exactly right.” Similarly, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he believed a bombing campaign against Iran could be short and limited. He added, “I have a lot of respect for Tom Cotton and I’m glad someone is speaking out against the Iranian deal because it’s absolutely one of the worst proposals I’ve ever seen ever because that puts Israel, that puts America, and puts the whole world in a very, very dangerous place.”
Both Cruz and Graham signed Cotton’s open letter to Iranian leaders earlier this year. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., another signatory to the letter, did not respond to my question as he left the First in the Nation conference in Nashua on Friday.
Most military experts disagree with Cotton’s assessment, and believe an attack on Iran would carry “significant costs and dangers.” In 2009, the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that “Any strike on the Bushehr Nuclear Reactor will cause the immediate death of thousands of people living in or adjacent to the site, and thousands of subsequent cancer deaths or even up to hundreds of thousands depending on the population density along the contamination plume.”
Photo: AP/Matthew Putney
The post GOP Hopefuls Divided on Cotton Claim That Attack on Iran Would Be Over In “Several Days” appeared first on The Intercept.
New Zealand spies teamed with National Security Agency hackers to break into a data link in the country’s largest city, Auckland, as part of a secret plan to eavesdrop on Chinese diplomats, documents reveal.
The covert operation, reported Saturday by New Zealand’s Herald on Sunday in collaboration with The Intercept, highlights the contrast between New Zealand’s public and secret approaches to its relationship with China, its largest and most important trading partner.
The hacking project suggests that New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency, Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, may have violated international treaties that prohibit the interception of diplomatic communications.
New Zealand has signed both the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, international treaties that protect the “inviolability” of diplomatic correspondance. The country’s prime minister, John Key, said in a recent speech on security that New Zealand had an obligation to support the rule of law internationally, and was “known for its integrity, reliability and independence.”
Last year, Key said that New Zealand’s relationship with China, worth an estimated $15 billion in annual two-way trade, had “never been stronger.” The relationship was not just about “purely trading,” he said, “it is so much broader and much deeper than that.”
In 2013, Key described a meeting with top Chinese officials in Beijing as “extremely warm” and told of how he was viewed as a “real friend” by the country’s premier, Li Keqiang.
At the same time, as minister in charge of the GCSB, Key was overseeing spying against China – which included the top-secret planned operation in Auckland, aimed at the Chinese consulate.
The hacking project is outlined in documents obtained by The Intercept from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
A secret report called “NSA activities in progress 2013,” includes an item titled “New Zealand: Joint effort to exploit Chinese MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] link.” The operation, according to another NSA document, had “identified an MFA data link between the Chinese consulate and Chinese Visa Office in Auckland,” two buildings about a five-minute walk apart on the city’s busy Great South Road.
The document added that the New Zealand agency was “providing additional technical data” on the data link to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations, a powerful unit that hacks into computer systems and networks to intercept communications. The agencies had “verbally agreed to move forward with a cooperative passive and active effort against this link,” it said.
Passive surveillance refers to a method of eavesdropping on communications that intercepts them as they are flowing over Internet cables, between satellites, or across phone networks. Active surveillance is a more aggressive tactic that involves hacking into computers; in the case of the Auckland operation, active surveillance could have involved planting spyware in the Chinese government computers or routers connected via the consulate data link.
The documents do not reveal whether the operation was successfully completed, due to the timeframe that the records cover. In May 2013, Snowden left his Hawaii-based intelligence job and flew to Hong Kong carrying the cache of secret files. In April 2013, shortly before Snowden’s departure, “formal coordination” on the hacking plan had begun between the NSA and its New Zealand counterpart, according to the documents.
More New Zealand operations targeting China appear to have been ongoing at that time. In another April 2013 NSA document describing the agency’s relationship with New Zealand spies, under the heading “What partner provides to NSA,” the first item on the list is “collection on China.” New Zealand’s GCSB surveillance agency “continues to be especially helpful in its ability to provide NSA ready access to areas and countries that are difficult for the United States to access,” the report said.
China intelligence is handled inside the New Zealand agency by a special section that focuses on economic analysis. According to sources with knowledge of the agency’s operations, its economic section, known as the “IBE,” specialised in Japanese diplomatic communications from 1981 until the late 2000s. In recent years its focus has shifted to intercepted Chinese communications, the sources say.
In response to the revelations, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in New Zealand told the Herald on Sunday that the country was “concerned” about the spying. “We attach great importance to the cyber security issue,” the spokesman said, adding that “China proposes to settle disputes through dialogue and formulate codes to regulate cyber space behaviors that are acceptable to all sides.”
China itself is known to be a major perpetrator of espionage on the global stage, and it has been repeatedly accused by the U.S. government of hacking into American computer networks. Last year, China was linked to an apparent intelligence-gathering hack on a powerful New Zealand supercomputer used to conduct weather and climate research.
But the Snowden documents have shown that countries in the so-called “Five Eyes” surveillance alliance – which includes New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia – are also heavily involved in conducting aggressive spying and hacking operations across the world.
Previous revelations have detailed how agencies in the alliance have hacked law-abiding companies, foreign government computers, and designed technology to attack and destroy infrastructure using cyberwar techniques. Last year, The Intercept revealed how the NSA had developed the capability to deploy millions of malware “implants” to infect computers and steal data on a large scale.
The NSA, the GCSB and the New Zealand prime minister’s office each declined to answer questions about this story.
GCSB’s acting director, Una Jagose, said in an emailed statement that the agency “exists to protect New Zealand and New Zealanders.” She added: “We have a foreign intelligence mandate. We don’t comment on speculation about matters that may or may not be operational. Everything we do is explicitly authorised and subject to independent oversight.”
Photo of New Zealand prime minister John Key, left, and Chinese premier Li Keqiang in Beijing, March 2014. (Feng Li/AP)
On Aug. 31, 2012, a top-secret U.S. intelligence report noted that “possible bystanders” had been killed alongside militants from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in a drone strike in eastern Yemen two days earlier. The source of the intelligence, a Yemeni official described in the cable as “reliable,” identified two of the dead as Waleed bin Ali Jaber and Salim bin Ali Jaber, “an imam of a mosque who had reportedly preached a sermon that had insulted AQAP.”
The source believed that Salim and Waleed “had been lured to the car by the two AQAP militants when the airstrike hit.”
Salim and Waleed’s deaths sparked protests in their village, and the incident was later well-documented by international media and human rights groups. Their family representative, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, has met with Yemeni and U.S. national security officials and members of Congress. But the United States still has not formally acknowledged or apologized for the incident.
The previously unreported intelligence report, viewed by The Intercept, indicates that the U.S. government knew soon after the strike that it had killed two civilians. It could add fire to a lawsuit that Faisal bin Ali Jaber has launched in Germany, as further evidence that U.S. strikes put innocent Yemenis at risk.
Jaber will testify next month in front of a German court, alleging that Germany is violating a constitutionally enshrined duty to protect the right to life by allowing the United States to use Ramstein Air Base as part of its lethal drone operations.
It is the first time a victim of a U.S. drone strike will air his grievances in court, lawyers for the case told The Intercept. The lawsuit could put Germany in the awkward position of having to publicly defend its role in the U.S. drone program.
As The Intercept reported today, the U.S. military sees Ramstein as an essential node in the technical infrastructure for its armed and unarmed drone operations. A budget request for the Ramstein station stated that without the facility, “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”
The administrative court in Cologne where Jaber’s suit is filed recently granted him the chance to present evidence, a sign that it will allow the case to move forward. At that hearing, scheduled for May 27, Jaber will describe the 2012 incident and argue that he and his family are still in danger from drone strikes.
“We’re asking the German government to take measures to stop the U.S. from using German soil in their illegal and immoral drone war,” said Kat Craig, legal director for Reprieve, an international rights group that is representing Jaber along with the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights.
Extending the constitutional right to life to a non-German citizen outside of Germany is untested legal ground. That Jaber will be allowed to testify is “quite remarkable,” said Craig, and shows “the court is taking it seriously.”
The German government has tried to get the suit tossed, arguing in a court filing that Ramstein’s role in the U.S. drone program is unproven, and that Jaber can’t tie Germany to his specific case.
The lawsuit, the government argues in the filing, is asking Germany to act as a “‘global public prosecutor’ towards other sovereign states” — namely, the United States and Yemen.
The German government also wrote that the U.S. has provided assurances that no drones are commanded or controlled from Germany, echoing what a Pentagon spokesperson told The Intercept: that the United States does not “directly fly or control any manned or remotely piloted aircraft” from Ramstein. As The Intercept explained, that language carefully evades the important technical role played by the base.
Any victory in Jaber’s case will likely be symbolic, said Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It’s almost unimaginable that lethal counterterrorism operations would rupture a relationship with an ally like Germany. Ramstein is used for so many other things and is so important to the bilateral relationship,” Zenko said.
But it could have political ramifications in Germany, where drones are a particularly controversial issue. Zenko noted a recent survey that found 67 percent of Germans were opposed to U.S. drone strikes. Previous allegations of Ramstein’s role in the drone program led to parliamentary inquiries.
In its response, the German government “appears to be trying to avoid a situation where they have to justify their cooperation with the Americans,” said Craig. “That is why they won’t simply deal with the facts of the case.”
U.S. drone operations in Yemen have slowed in the months since Jaber filed his case, as the country has disintegrated into war. U.S.-backed President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi fled into exile in February as the Houthi rebel group took over the capital and large swaths of the country. Saudi Arabia is now bombing the Houthis (with U.S. support) while AQAP has taken advantage of the vacuum to expand its territory.
Nonetheless, strikes continue. Just this week a U.S. drone strike killed a leader of AQAP who was once held in Guantánamo. Jaber’s lawyers plan to argue that the drone campaign will now be less precise due to the war limiting U.S. intelligence on the ground.
Reprieve acknowledges that the German case is a roundabout way of getting at the issue. “It’s very difficult to challenge U.S. drone activities in U.S. courts, so Reprieve targets the soft underbelly of Europe and U.S. allies there to fill the void of accountability,” said Craig.
The United States rarely acknowledges specific drone strikes — usually only when a high-level target is killed — and almost never responds to specific allegations of civilian harm. Attempts to bring cases in U.S. courts have gained little traction. The family of U.S. citizen Anwar al Awlaki and his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, has tried for years to bring suit for their deaths in U.S. drone strikes in 2011. In June, a federal judge dismissed their case, deferring to executive branch authority over military targeting decisions.
National Security Council spokesman Ned Price declined to comment on the contents of the intelligence report on the August 2012 strike that killed Salim and Waleed bin Ali Jaber. He said generally that the U.S. government “takes seriously all credible reports of non-combatant deaths and injuries,” conducts after-action reviews, and in some cases, offers compensation.
The family did receive roughly $100,000 last year, in bags of crisp U.S. dollars delivered by Yemeni officials. Jaber told Yahoo News last October that he was told the money came from the United States. But he was still not satisfied. “‘One thinks the U.S. believes it can silence the families of the victims with money’ rather than ‘an apology and an explanation,’” Yahoo reported.
Letta Tayler, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch who conducted an in-depth investigation into U.S. drones strikes in Yemen, questioned the underlying policy that allows for so many civilian deaths. “It’s as if the hundreds of Yemenis and thousands of Pakistanis killed in drone strikes simply do not exist,” she said.
Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty
The post Secret Details of Drone Strike Revealed As Unprecedented Case Goes to German Court appeared first on The Intercept.
german foreign policy: Newsletter vom 17.04.2015 – Die NATO-Norderweiterung
BRÜSSEL/STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI (Eigener Bericht) – Deutsche Regierungsberater sprechen sich für eine stärkere Einbindung der offiziell militärisch neutralen Staaten Schweden und Finnland in die
westlichen Militärstrukturen aus. Die zunehmende Kooperation der beiden Länder mit der NATO und ihre Aktivitäten im Rahmen der gemeinsamen EU-Militärpolitik seien sehr zu begrüßen, heißt es in
einer aktuellen Analyse aus der Berliner Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP): “Davon profitiert auch Deutschland.” Tatsächlich beteiligen sich Schweden und Finnland nicht nur seit Jahren an einer
EU Battlegroup; beide diskutieren zur Zeit auch über einen etwaigen NATO-Beitritt.
(This is an item from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Broadcast media has not devoted much air time to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, an agreement that will greatly impact 40 percent of the global economy. But hacked emails from Sony reveal that media industry executives have been engaged in active discussions about the agreement behind closed doors.
On April 17, 2014, Steven Fabrizio, the general counsel of the Motion Picture Association of America, sent out an update to industry executives — including Maren Christensen of NBC and Alan Braverman of Disney, the parent company of ABC News — detailing lobbying efforts by the MPAA. “Finally, in regard to trade,” Fabrizio wrote, “the MPAA/MPA with the strong support of your studios, continue to advocate to governments around the world about the pressing need for strong pro-IP trade policies such as TPP and the proposed EU/US trade agreement (TTIP).”
In an email dated February 20, 2014, MPAA president Chris Dodd shared a letter he wrote concerning the TPP deal with executives from NBC, Viacom, Disney and Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. The letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman decried the potential inclusion of “fair use” doctrine in the TPP, telling Froman that “the potential export of fair use via these agreements raises serious concerns within the community I represent.” Dodd also said he was worried about “indications from the US government that the ISP liability provisions in the TPP are going to be weakened.”
On November 7, 2013, Keith Weaver, a senior executive for Sony’s government affairs department, wrote to Michael Lynton, the chief executive of Sony Pictures, to tell him about a meeting about the trade deal, following up on an earlier one at the White House:
I understand you may be contacted by [Disney chief] Bob Iger or United States Trade Representative, Michael Froman to invite you (+ one) to a meeting at Disney next Friday (the 15th). While I’m not aware of the details of this meeting (time or agenda), my sense is that much of the discussion will center on the TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (TPP, which is a pending multilateral trade agreement with 12 countries that boarder the Pacific Ocean) – you’ll recall this was one of the key topics of your meeting with Froman and your peers at the White House last year.
As I’ve reported in the past, Time Warner, Comcast, and Disney, despite failing to devote air time to the TPP trade deal, have registered lobbyists to promote the deal.
A Media Matters report found that a “transcript search of the CBS Evening News, ABC’s World News Tonight, and NBC’s Nightly News from August 1, 2013, through January 31, 2015, found no mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” The same report found that The Ed Show on MSNBC was the only cable news program to devote significant coverage to the issue. “During the same 18-month period, CNN and Fox News each mentioned the TPP during two broadcasts.”
Photo: Henning Schacht-Pool/Getty
The post Sony Emails Show Industry Execs Pushing for Trade Deal appeared first on The Intercept.
(This is an item from our new blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Chris Dodd’s first career was as the liberal U.S. Senator from Connecticut, a self-professed champion for working families and a Democratic presidential contender in 2008. But hacked emails from Sony offer new insight into how he operates in his second career, as the head of the Motion Picture Association of America, a lobby group for the movie industry.
On January 28, 2014, Dodd emailed executives from major motion picture studios to share two news articles. One revealed that Google had shifted its campaign donation strategy, giving more to Republican lawmakers, and another projected that the GOP would likely perform well in the midterm elections that year.
The articles, Dodd wrote, “underscore the point I’ve been trying to make, which I’m sure you all understand – while loyalty to a person and/or party is admirable, we also need to be smarter about being supportive of those who are and will be in positions to make decisions that affect this industry.”
Dodd listed a number of policy priorities for the industry, from tax credits to intellectual property law, and explained: “We need the capacity to gain and maintain relationships, and with campaigns getting more and more expensive, fundraising does have an impact.”
Dodd in particular encouraged industry executives to donate to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property and copyright issues important to the movie industry. Dodd evidently had to overcome one hurdle, however: Squeamishness about giving money directly to the National Republican Congressional Campaign, whose goal was to increase the GOP House majority.
In a November 7, 2013, email with “Call from Dodd regarding $$$ for Republicans” in the subject line, Keith Weaver, a senior government relations executive with Sony, wrote:
Chairman Goodlatte has established a new fundraising committee that would allow contributions to his effort WITHOUT giving to the NRCC (all of the studios had the same sensitivity on this as we did). Dodd is likely to call you with this news, tell you that the studio should support with $40k each, and tell you about the tentative date/time for this fundraiser (likely a lunch on 11/22). Our PAC can give $15k, the rest would need to come from individual execs.
Emphasis in the original.
Dodd chose not to run for reelection to his Senate seat in 2010, after revelations that he had received a special discount mortgage from Countrywide’s “VIP program.” During his time in Congress, Dodd was a senior member of the Banking Committee, a position that oversaw mortgage lenders.
Dodd’s call for Democratic-leaning movie industry titans to give money to Republicans reveals a simple truth in American politics: Though pundits regularly complain about a bitter partisan divide, those with power and money can simply buy support from both parties. Indeed, the tech industry and much of the movie industry have come together on many major issues concerning intellectual property and privacy, from trade agreements to new cyber surveillance legislation — with strong bipartisan support in Congress.
As Dodd said, “fundraising does have an impact.”
Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images
The post Former Dem Senator Chris Dodd Advised Execs to Give to GOP: “Fundraising Does Have An Impact” appeared first on The Intercept.
Wir leben in einer Welt, die aus den Fugen gerät: Krieg, Armut, Zerstörung der Umwelt und aufkommende rassistische Hetze bestimmen die Lebensbedingungen von immer mehr Menschen. Wesentliche Ursache ist der weltweite Kapitalismus, in dem die Profitinteressen einer kleinen Minderheit bestimmend sind. Am 1.Mai – dem traditionellen Kampftag der Klasse der Arbeiterinnen und Arbeiter – gehen rund um den Globus Millionen Menschen gegen diese Verhältnisse auf die Straße. Zugleich wollen wir an diesem Tag die Forderung nach einer anderen, einer solidarischen Gesellschaft auf die Tagesordnung setzen. Diese Zeitung ist Teil einer Kampagne mehrerer revolutionärer Gruppen, die in verschiedenen Städten am 1.Mai antikapitalistische Aktivitäten organisieren.
This is a joint investigation with the German news magazine Der Spiegel.
A TOP-SECRET U.S. intelligence document obtained by The Intercept confirms that the sprawling U.S. military base in Ramstein, Germany serves as the high-tech heart of America’s drone program. Ramstein is the site of a satellite relay station that enables drone operators in the American Southwest to communicate with their remote aircraft in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and other targeted countries. The top-secret slide deck, dated July 2012, provides the most detailed blueprint seen to date of the technical architecture used to conduct strikes with Predator and Reaper drones.
Amid fierce European criticism of America’s targeted killing program, U.S. and German government officials have long downplayed Ramstein’s role in lethal U.S. drone operations and have issued carefully phrased evasions when confronted with direct questions about the base. But the slides show that the facilities at Ramstein perform an essential function in lethal drone strikes conducted by the CIA and the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.
The slides were provided by a source with knowledge of the U.S. government’s drone program who declined to be identified because of fears of retribution. According to the source, Ramstein’s importance to the U.S. drone war is difficult to overstate. “Ramstein carries the signal to tell the drone what to do and it returns the display of what the drone sees. Without Ramstein, drones could not function, at least not as they do now,” the source said.
The new evidence places German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an awkward position given Germany’s close diplomatic alliance with the United States. The German government has granted the U.S. the right to use the property, but only under the condition that the Americans do nothing there that violates German law.
The U.S. government maintains that its drone strikes against al Qaeda and its “associated forces” are legal, even outside of declared war zones. But German legal officials have suggested that such operations are only justifiable in actual war zones. Moreover, Germany has the right to prosecute “criminal offenses against international law … even when the offense was committed abroad and bears no relation to Germany,” according to Germany’s Code of Crimes against International Law, which passed in 2002.
This means that American personnel stationed at Ramstein could, in theory, be vulnerable to German prosecution if they provide drone pilots with data used in attacks.
While the German government has been reluctant to pursue such prosecutions, it may come under increasing pressure to do so. “It is simply murder,” says Björn Schiffbauer of the Institute for International Law at the University of Cologne. Legal experts interviewed by Der Spiegel claimed that U.S. personnel could be charged as war criminals by German prosecutors.
RAMSTEIN IS ONE of the largest U.S. military bases outside the United States, hosting more than 16,000 military and civilian personnel. The relay center at Ramstein, which was completed in late 2013, sits in the middle of a massive forest and is adjacent to a baseball diamond used by students at the Ramstein American High School. The large compound, made of reinforced concrete and masonry walls and enclosed in a horseshoe of trees, has a sloped metal roof. Inside this building, air force squadrons can coordinate the signals necessary for a variety of drone surveillance and strike missions. On two sides of the building are six massive golf ball-like fixtures known as satellite relay pads.
In a 2010 budget request for the Ramstein satellite station, the U.S. Air Force asserted that without the Germany-based facility, the drone program could face “significant degradation of operational capability” that could “have a serious impact on ongoing and future missions.” Predator and Reaper drones, as well as Global Hawk aircraft, would “use this site to conduct operations” in Africa and the Middle East, according to the request. It stated bluntly that without the use of Ramstein, drone “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”
“Because of multi-theater-wide operations, the respective SATCOM Relay Station must be located at Ramstein Air Base to provide most current information to the war-fighting commander at any time demanded,” according to the request. The relay station, according to that document, would also be used to support the operations of a secretive black ops Air Force program known as “Big Safari.”
The classified slide deck maps out an intricate spider web of facilities across the U.S. and the globe: from drone command centers on desert military bases in the U.S. to Ramstein to outposts in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Qatar and Bahrain and back to NSA facilities in Washington and Georgia. What is clear is that most paths within America’s drone maze run through Ramstein.
Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is central to multiple prongs of the U.S. drone war. Personnel stationed at the facility are responsible for drone operations in Afghanistan — which has been on the receiving end of more drone strikes than any country in the world — and Pakistan, where the CIA has conducted a covert air war for the last decade. The agency’s campaign has killed thousands of people, including hundreds of civilians. Some drone missions are operated from other locations, such as Fort Gordon in Georgia and Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, New Mexico.
The pilots at Creech and other ground control stations send their commands to the drones they operate via transatlantic fiber optic cables to Germany, where the Ramstein uplink bounces the signal to a satellite that connects to drones over Yemen, Somalia and other target countries. Ramstein is ideally situated as a satellite relay station to minimize the lag time between the commands of the pilots and their reception by the aircraft, called latency. Too much latency — which would be caused by additional satellite relays — would make swift maneuvers impossible. Video images from a drone could not be delivered to the U.S. in near real time. Without the speed and precise control an installation like Ramstein allows, pilots would practically be flying blind.
A diagram in the secret document shows how the process works. Ramstein’s satellite uplink station is used to route communications between the pilots and aircraft deployed in a variety of countries. Video from the drones is routed back through Ramstein and then relayed to a variety of U.S. intelligence and military facilities around the U.S. and the globe. Another diagram shows how pilots at Creech connect to Ramstein and then to the Predator Primary Satellite Link, which facilitates direct control of the drone wherever it is operating.
All of this — location, combined with the need to securely house the large quantities of equipment, buildings and personnel necessary to operate the satellite uplink — has made Ramstein one of the most viable sites available to the U.S. to serve this critical function in the drone war.
When the prominent German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the German public television broadcaster ARD published an expose on Ramstein in May 2013 and alleged that the base was being used to facilitate drone strikes, it created a massive controversy in Germany. The report spurred parliamentary investigations and calls for the U.S. to explain exactly what it was doing at the base. In response, the German and U.S. governments mischaracterized the reporting and the German government claimed it had no hard evidence of Ramstein’s role in lethal strikes.
A month later, in a June 2013 speech in Berlin, President Obama addressed the issue of Ramstein’s role in the drone war. He did not mention that the satellite relay facility at Ramstein enables U.S. drone strikes. Instead, he denied a claim that the journalists had not made: “We do not use Germany as a launching point for unmanned drones … as part of our counterterrorism activities,” Obama said.
In response to questions for this article, Pentagon spokesman Maj. James Brindle echoed the precise language of previous government statements. “We maintain robust civilian and military cooperation with Germany and manage all base activities in accordance with the agreements made between the United States and German governments,” he said. “The Air and Space Operations Center at Ramstein Air Base conducts operational level planning, monitoring and assessment of assigned airpower missions throughout Europe and Africa, but does not directly fly or control any manned or remotely piloted aircraft.”
The German government has issued similar statements, saying no drone pilots are based at Ramstein and no drones are launched from the base. “The U.S. government has confirmed that such armed and remote aircrafts are not flown or controlled from U.S. bases in Germany,” government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said last year. In 2013, members of the Bundestag, the German parliament, submitted written questions to their federal government. “To the knowledge of the Federal Government, is it true that U.S. drone attacks in Africa could not be carried out without a special satellite relay station for unmanned flying objects in Ramstein?” the lawmakers asked.
“The Federal Government has no reliable information in this regard,” read the official reply. Pressed further on the satellite facility and its purpose, the government replied: “The Federal Government has no information regarding the installation of the satellite system or when it started operating.”
Internal German government communications provided to The Intercept by Der Spiegel show how some German officials tried and failed to get the government to confront the U.S. about what connection facilities in Germany had to drone strikes. According to a June 2013 document, a senior Foreign Office official, Emily Haber, advocated demanding a clear answer from Washington about the role U.S. facilities in Germany played in drone strikes. Haber was overruled: “The Federal Chancellery and the Defense Ministry would prefer to ‘sit out’ the pressure from parliament and the public,” the response read. The unofficial German-U.S. agreement appears to amount to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” understanding.
While most, if not all, of the official statements by both governments may be technically true, it is also true that without the base, it would be very difficult for the United States to sustain the current drone war. The slide deck contains an array of arrows showing the complex system used to operate drones across the world. In the end, all arrows point to Ramstein. “Everything relies on Ramstein and Creech as central hubs for communication” in both armed and unarmed drone operations, says the source. Aside from the possibility of using an undisclosed satellite uplink station, the only drone operations that would not rely on Ramstein in these regions would be those conducted via aircraft that have a line of sight to a ground control station.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS in Germany, as well as opposition politicians, have long suspected that Ramstein has played a direct role in the U.S. drone war. They have called on the German government to stop allowing the armed U.S. drone program to operate from German soil.
Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former director of the Combined Air Operations Center, accused such critics of the drone program of being influenced by “misinformation that’s provided by terrorist organizations that these things are being effective against.”
Deptula oversaw the implementation of the U.S. armed drone program starting in 2001. In an interview with The Intercept, he defended the use of drones. “Operations conducted by remotely piloted aircraft really are the most accurate and precise means of applying force,” Deptula says. “Why would the Germans want to shut down operations that effectively provide information to increase situational awareness of a community of nations that are trying to combat terrorism?”
Kat Craig, the legal director at Reprieve, an international human rights organization that represents victims of drone strikes in Yemen and elsewhere, said the notion that critics of the drone program are being manipulated by propaganda from terrorist organizations “would be laughable, were it not so offensive towards civilian victims of drone strikes.”
A new report from The Open Society Foundations, published this month, studied nine U.S. drone strikes in Yemen and found that 26 civilians were killed, including several children and a pregnant woman.
“It has become all too clear that, too often, those carrying out the strikes simply do not know who they are hitting,” Craig said. “This misguided campaign has been allowed free rein because it has been kept hidden from public scrutiny.”
WHILE THE GERMAN government has so far managed to dodge questions on Ramstein’s role in drone strikes, the country’s judicial system may not have that option.
Two related cases have been winding their way through the German legal system. In 2010, a German citizen was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Pakistan. Two years later, a federal prosecutor opened a preliminary investigation “to examine whether Bünyamin Erdogan’s violent death qualified as a war crime under Germany’s international criminal code.”
The case was later dropped after investigators determined that at the time he was killed by a missile fired from a drone, Erdogan was not considered a civilian protected under international law. Rather, they asserted that he had been a “member of an organized, armed group that participated as a party in an armed conflict.” Pakistan, according to German interpretations of international law, is considered a war zone in cases involving known militants in certain areas.
German courts haven’t established whether other targeted countries, such as Yemen and Somalia, qualify as war zones. Last October, a Yemeni man whose relatives were killed in a 2012 U.S. drone strike filed a lawsuit against the German government. Faisal bin Ali Jaber said his brother-in-law, a well-respected moderate imam known for his anti-al Qaeda sermons, and his nephew were killed in a strike.
Jaber claimed the strike would not have been possible without the use of the satellite relay facility at Ramstein. “Were it not for the help of Germany and Ramstein, men like my brother-in-law and nephew might still be alive today. It is quite simple: without Germany, U.S. drones would not fly,” Jaber said at the time. “I am here to ask that the German people and Parliament be told the full extent of what is happening in their country, and that the German government stop Ramstein being used to help the U.S.’s illegal and devastating drone war in my country.” A member of Jaber’s legal team accused Germany of “hiding behind status-of-forces agreements,” saying the government should “admit its responsibility for civilian deaths caused by U.S. drone warfare.”
In response to the suit, the German defense ministry submitted a reply on behalf of the government, which is named as the defendant in the case. “The defendant denies, by claiming ignorance, that the satellite-relay-station in use on the air base transfers field data of unmanned aerial vehicles from Yemen to the U.S. or to other unmanned aerial vehicles and that the air base is a fundamental hub for the data transfer necessary to operate unmanned aerial vehicles in Yemen,” read the January 20 filing. As for the suit’s demand that Germany prevent the relay station at Ramstein from facilitating drone strikes, the German government stated that it could not be expected to act “as a ‘global public prosecutor’ towards other sovereign states and punish alleged infringements outside of their own sovereign territory.”
However, some legal scholars in Germany aren’t satisfied with that response. They argue that if U.S. personnel based at Ramstein are involved in what the government considers an extra-judicial killing in a non-declared war zone, they would not be entitled to immunity — at least not on German soil. The NATO Status of Forces Agreement explicitly grants German authorities the right to investigate members of the U.S. military suspected of having committed a crime.
To date, German prosecutors have shown little interest in pursuing such action. The German government position boils down to this: We have asked the U.S. if they are violating any agreements or laws and the Americans have said no. Case closed.
“What happens between the U.S., Ramstein and the drones is a division of labor in different locations,” says Wolfgang Kaleck, the head of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, one of the organizations bringing the Yemen suit against the German government. “The German government doesn’t ask tough questions because they obviously don’t want to know what really happens.”
GERMANY HAS FIGURED prominently in the American drone war from the very beginning.
In 2000, the U.S. Air Force launched an initiative to explore arming drones, the same year that the CIA — contemplating the assassination of Osama bin Laden — began using unarmed Predators to try to track the high-value target.
It was through this surveillance project that a scientist working with the CIA and the U.S. military devised a prototype for what would become the system for operating drones from half a world away that endures to this day.
Originally called “split operations,” the method involved drone pilots operating from Ramstein, while the actual aircraft would fly out of an airfield in Afghanistan’s neighbor Uzbekistan. From there, the drones could record live video over a complex near Kandahar where bin Laden was suspected of residing. “They chose Ramstein because that was the most convenient place where they could be on a very secure location and still reach a satellite that had a footprint that covered Afghanistan,” says Richard Whittle, author of the book Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution. “And that worked.”
The successful development of the split operations was welcomed by those within the U.S. intelligence community who were pushing for authorities to assassinate bin Laden — it would make their mission easier to accomplish.
But plans to assassinate bin Laden with a Hellfire missile launched from a drone piloted from Ramstein hit a snag. “A Defense Department lawyer raised the issue that you couldn’t pull the trigger from German soil under the U.S. Status of Forces Agreement without telling the German government you were going to do it and getting their permission,” says Whittle. Fearing that the German government of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder would reject the proposal or that the existence of the facility and the plot to kill bin Laden would leak, the CIA went back to the drawing board. “You have to remember at that time, the whole idea of assassinating Osama bin Laden had a different feel to it than it did later after 9/11,” Whittle told The Intercept. “He was barely known among the general public. The whole idea of the CIA running a targeted killing was entirely different and there was a lot of hesitation.”
The CIA considered moving the ground control station to a ship in the ocean or to another European location. But all of those scenarios would come with risks and technical complications. In the end, the CIA decided to position pilots at a ground control station within CIA headquarters in Langley and then use fiber optic underwater cables to facilitate lightning fast communications between pilots in the U.S. and the drones they would control. The cable to Germany would be the artery connecting the pilots to the planes that would hunt bin Laden and other terror suspects. It would run from the U.S. to Ramstein, which would house a powerful satellite uplink that could hit satellites in Afghanistan. But the key was that the actual commands to deploy drones as weapons would be issued from American not German soil, thus freeing the U.S. from the obligation to get the Germans’ approval for the mission. The system was called “remote split operations.”
Soon after taking office in 2009, President Obama authorized an expansion of the drone war, including opening new fronts in Somalia and Yemen. But the U.S. military discovered a gap in its satellite coverage. So, in early 2009, after “an urgent call from the Pentagon’s Joint staff,” a commercial satellite provider, Intelsat, shifted its Galaxy-26 satellite from the U.S. to orbit over the Indian Ocean. This repositioning of the Galaxy-26, which could be reached by U.S. drone operators by using the relay station at Ramstein, facilitated the rapid expansion of the U.S. drone program.
Former drone sensor operator Brandon Bryant, who conducted operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Iraq, said that without Ramstein, the U.S. would either need to find another base in the area, with the ability to hit satellites in the Middle East and Africa, or place U.S. personnel much closer to the areas they are targeting. “Instead of being able to be [inside the U.S.] with their operations, they would have to do more line-of-sight stuff, more direct deployments, more people going over there rather than [operating] in the states,” Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the drone program, told The Intercept. The U.S. is “doing shady stuff behind the scenes like using satellite and information technologies that, if able to continue being used, are going to just continue to perpetuate the drone war,” he charged.
“Ramstein is the focal point for drone communications,” says Dan Gettinger, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. “If the communications infrastructure didn’t exist, the drone would be just a remote control plane, a toy basically.” It is “more important to the drone operations than the weapons a drone carries.”
The top-secret slides show how embedded Ramstein has become in the drone war. They describe in detail the system by which a geolocating device affixed to the drone feeds back to a satellite and down to the station at Ramstein. The GILGAMESH platform, which The Intercept first reported on in February of 2014, utilizes a device placed on the bottom of the drone. It operates as a fake cell phone tower, forcing individual mobile phones of targeted individuals to connect to it so that their location can be pinpointed and used in “find, fix and finish” missions.
The slides show that GILGAMESH operations ran out of several sites, including Djibouti, a base from which the U.S. has launched drone aircraft into Somalia and Yemen. The slides also describe how drones are equipped with a collection platform, “AIRHANDLER,” which relays data back to ground control stations via Ramstein.
RAMSTEIN IS NOT the only crucial U.S. military installation in Germany. The U.S. has a separate key facility an hour away, in Wiesbaden, Germany, called the European Technical Center (ETC). According to a previously reported classified document provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the ETC “is NSA’s primary communications hub in that part of the world, providing communications connectivity, SIGINT collection, and data-flow services to NSAers, warfighters and foreign partners in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”
In the top-secret drone architecture slide deck obtained by The Intercept, the ETC is shown as having satellite links to Bagram air base in Afghanistan as well as a fiber optic connection to the NSA’s counterterrorism facilities in Georgia, where many GILGAMESH operators supporting drone operations are based.
As the U.S. expands the global reach of its drones, Ramstein is poised to play a crucial role in new war frontiers. Last June, the Air Force awarded a contract to a major satellite provider that boasts that it “leverages our global satellite fleet to provide communications capability” for drones. The contract will support the operations of the Germany-based U.S. Africa Command. “Work will be performed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany and the western portion of Africa,” the contract announcement states.
In 2011, the Air Force requested $15 million to build a center similar to the Ramstein satellite facility at a U.S. military base in Sigonella, Italy. As of November 2014, according to a U.S. military contracting document, the project was still in a pre-solicitation stage and construction had not been completed. The Air Force’s request for funding of the station underlined the centrality of Ramstein to all current drone operations. It asserted that the proposed Italy site would “act as a back-up system to the Ramstein site to avoid single point of failure.”
Additional reporting by Ryan Devereaux, Laura Poitras, and Josh Begley. Margot Williams, Sheelagh McNeill, Connie Yu, Alleen Brown, Andrea Jones, Sharon Weinberger, and Henrik Moltke contributed to this story.
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