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March 09, 2017

Forget Russian hacking. Berlin fears the CIA

FAZ is leading the paper this morning with a report that Berlin is taking very seriously the latest revelations about hacking activity in Germany, this time allegedly not from Russia but from the CIA. The government says it has no concrete evidence yet in support of a Wikileaks report, entitled: "Vault 7: CIA Hacking Tools Revealed" which states, among other things, the following:

“In addition to its operations in Langley, Virginia the CIA also uses the U.S. consulate in Frankfurt as a covert base for its hackers covering Europe, the Middle East and Africa. CIA hackers operating out of the Frankfurt consulate ( "Center for Cyber Intelligence Europe" or CCIE) are given diplomatic (‘black’) passports and State Department cover. The instructions for incoming CIA hackers make Germany's counter-intelligence efforts appear inconsequential: ‘Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat, and all they did was stamp your passport.’”

The Wikileaks report says that Germany was an ideal base for such activities. Because of Schengen, it was sufficient for US personnel to get into Germany, and then enjoy free travel through the entire zone.

The German government said it did register a large number of daily attacks against data networks of the federal government, but only a minority are successful. And, in any case, it was difficult to trace these attacks. The federal prosecutor said he is considering whether to launch a formal investigation, but nobody seems to be holding their breath.

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March 09, 2017

Is the multi-speed Europe hot air?

Werner Mussler notes in a comment about Jean-Claude Juncker’s recent white paper on the future of Europe that Angela Merkel’s support for a multi-speed Europe rings hollow. For as long as she does not fill this concept with concrete content, she raises suspicions that she does not want to change anything. Given the multiple problems the EU is facing now, this can hardly be the right course of action. Mussler says the EU urgently needs the kind of debate that Juncker has now kicked off with his paper. Mussler concludes that the agenda of today’s summit would suggest that there is little appetite for this. One of the agenda points is the quality of "fish fingers" and of Nutella in eastern Europe, which apparently is not of the same high standard as elsewhere. Who can blame Juncker that he wants to change the discourse?

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