'Full Measure': Shared security
WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Germany, like the United States and other key European countries, is facing a constant fight against terrorism. But there is one key difference: when it comes to key intelligence, the -most- important tool in stopping attacks, Germany relies almost entirely on the US. Reporting from Berlin, Scott Thuman asks, "What does the US get out of the deal?"
Scott Thuman: "From the Cold War’s dividing line, the Berlin Wall, to the epic relic of espionage, Checkpoint Charlie, now turned tourist trap, Germany has a long history of keeping populations in place as the times and politics dictate. But Germany is now struggling to separate and contain suspected terrorists, and stop an ever-growing string of attacks. Christmastime in Berlin; the market attack by a radicalized refugee from Tunisia, who made his way into Germany, killed 12 and injured more than 50 when he drove a truck into the celebrating crowd. A year ago, a train attack near Wurzburg, when an Afghan asylum seeker stabbed 5 people. And a suicide bombing at a music festival in Ansbach, a Syrian refugee blew himself up, 15 people were hurt."
Guido Steinberg: "I personally think that the rise in the number of terrorists here in Germany is primarily due to the refugee flow of 2015. We do see at least dozens of suspects, if not more, who have been members of ISIL, the Nusra Front, smaller organizations."
Thuman: "Guido Steinberg is one of Germany’s leading experts on terror and has advised governments on countering its spread."
Guido Steinberg: "Some years ago we would have talked about, say 100 or 200 Germans who went to Pakistan to join al-Qaida and its affiliates. Today we talk about numbers of 900 who went to Syria within four years. That’s a significant rise and it’s an experience all western nations have made."
Thuman: "Germany though has an uncomfortable truth when it comes to the use of authority and intelligence to control its people."
Guido Steinberg: "We have had two dictatorships where intelligence and police were merged in the notorious Gestapo and secret state police in Third Reich, or in the state security, the Stasi, in East Germany and that is why Germans, first don’t want to merge intelligence and police, and secondly and that’s even worse, they don’t want strong intelligence services. So, we see a country which has a long tradition of repression, a country that has quite strong police services but the whole security architecture is fragmented and the intelligence services are weak. So, if we know about a threat, we are good because we have good police, but if we don’t know about it, we don’t have the methods to find out about it."
Thuman: "If history is their hinderance, America may be their answer. You were quoted saying in a way, "We have outsourced our counterterrorism efforts to the United States."
Guido Steinberg: "Yes, that’s absolutely true because the most difficult thing in counter-terrorism is to find out who might be a danger. But this first information in many German plots, came first from the NSA several times, and that means we have outsourced probably the most difficult part of German counterterrorism to the United States."
Thuman: "That sharing has proved invaluable and, likely recently, saved lives like here at the Berlin airport where there was a plot to allegedly set off explosives. It was American intelligence that tipped off the Germans. Since the War on Terror is now a global effort, trading intelligence is pivotal to preventing attacks. Steinberg claims Americans are getting the short end of that stick. What can American intelligence agencies learn from Germany authorities? Should we be taking any lessons from the German authorities?"
Guido Steinberg: "I don’t think there’s any lesson that the Americans can learn from Germany, they can probably learn from the Brits, who I think have the most professional intelligence services worldwide. They might learn from the French, even though they’re unreliable, but I think German security authorities have nothing to offer to the United States."
Thuman: "Is it an unfair relationship? Are the Americans providing vast amounts of intelligence that is keeping Germany safe but the Germans are not able to provide the same for America?"
Guido Steinberg: "Yes, the relationship between the United States and Germany in security matters is absolutely unfair."
Thuman: "Very one-sided?"
Guido Steinberg: "It’s one-sided. It should have changed after Germany became a sovereign state in the early 1990s but it did not. So, I think it’s absolutely fair for the Trump Administration to demand more, in military terms and security in general, and I think the Germans should do more in intelligence."