NSA Sites in Germany
An Omnipotent American Authority
On June 11, August 26 and October 24 of last year, Berlin sent a catalogue of questions to the US government. During a visit to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland at the beginning of November, German intelligence heads Gerhard Schindler (of the BND) and Hans-Georg Maassen (of the domestic intelligence agency, known as the Office for the Protection of the Constitution or BfV) asked the most important questions in person and, for good measure, handed over a written list. No answers have been forthcoming. This leaves the Snowden documents as the best source for describing how the NSA has turned Germany into its most important base in Europe in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The work quickly bore fruit. It became increasingly easy to track the movements of suspicious persons in Mali, Mauritania and Algeria through the surveillance of satellite telephones. NSA workers passed information on to the US military's European Command, with some also being shared with individual governments in Africa. A US government document states that the intelligence insights have "been responsible for the capture or kill of over 40 terrorists and has helped achieve GWOT (Global War on Terror) and regional policy successes in Africa."
The operations of the NSA's analysts in Stuttgart were so successful that the intelligence agency quickly moved to expand its presence. In 2004, the Americans obtained approximately 1,000 square meters (10,750 square feet) of office space in Griesheim to host 59 workers who monitored communications in an effort to "optimize support to Theater operations" of the US Armed Forces. Ten years later, the center, although largely used by the military, has become the NSA's most important outpost in Europe -- with a mandate that goes far beyond providing support for the US military.
In May 2011, the installation was renamed the European Center for Cryptology (ECC) and the NSA integrated its Threat Operations Center, responsible for early danger identification, into the site. A total of 26 reconnaissance missions are managed from the Griesheim complex, which has since become the center of the "largest Analysis and Production activity in Europe," with satellite stations in Mons, Belgium, and in Great Britain. Internal documents indicate that the ECC is the operative intelligence arm of the NSA's European leadership in Stuttgart.