Saturday, August 9, 2014

The James Bond Book of Books

Yesterday was a unique day in Berlin.  The German State Department decided to send a formal letter out to every country operating a consulate or embassy in Germany.  The letter basically said that they all needed to provide a listing of "spies" or "agents" within the border of Germany. 

The logic to this?  This Snowden-NSA affair has gone up a notch.....pushing German bureaucrats to ask questions....sometimes smart questions and sometimes stupid questions.

Apparently the question got tossed at the US embassy in Berlin....who are the Secret Service agents at the embassy?  It wasn't a question of NSA folks or CIA folks or even Agricultural Department folks.  Just the Secret Service employees.  It would appear that the initial request was simply ignored or left unanswered.  

Typically, the Secret Service employees attend to only two significant functions.....treasury related security or investigations, and the protection of the President.  If there some Secret Service agents within Germany....they'd likely be here to plan out a Presidential visit somewhere (maybe not even in Germany), or to carry out some Treasury-related investigation work.  

Why would it matter to the Germans?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps it was simply a test of the waters to see if the US would comply.....or perhaps they felt there was an investigation underway on Treasury matters which the US hadn't made them aware of, and it involved Germans doing something devious or illegal.  

This odd request now to all embassy operations?  It affects Russia, China and a host of countries.  I'd take a guess that around a hundred nations maintain some type of presence.  It might consist of one diplomat who paid some bribe to represent a Caribbean island country, and he owns a restaurant on the side in Berlin.  Some countries....like North Korea....maintain a fairly large presence in Berlin, which makes one wonder if they study Germans to a great degree, or work various commerce deals on the side.

What happens with this request of the agents or spies in Germany?  I would question if any country complies with this.  The German official who requested this is likely now on vacation and won't come back to September.....finding nothing in his box and then posing the next logical step of forcing countries to comply.

The four logical outcomes?

Scenario one.  A bunch of countries turn around and assign all of their agents and spies within Germany to their educational division (pretending to be professors) or their agricultural department (pretending to be farm experts).  It'll be difficult to challenge this assignment of jobs and tasks, and will force Germany to accept the fact that the US keeps sixty-five agricultural experts in Germany.

Scenario two. Some countries will be dopey enough to admit everything to keep their German friends happy....like Italy admitting they have seven agents, or the Vatican admitting they keep one spy (a Bishop with pistol privileges), or Congo (admitting they keep four secret agents in Germany but they don't know what exactly they are supposed to spy on).  Some folks....like Honduras might decide its better to admit they have five spies in Germany, when the truth is they have none....just to get interest from the Germans in how and why Honduras spies on them.  

Scenario three.  No one complies, period.  

Scenario four.  Everyone complies, and a German book is created somewhere in Berlin....of the James Bond characters roaming the city.  Naturally, the Germans would swear that the book is safe and no one outside of the foreign division would ever see who is listed.  A week later....they discover that one of their trusted foreign division employees made a copy of the James Bond book, and sold it to either the US or Russia.  The book being compromised....means that every spy and agent in Berlin....even those from the Isle of Tonga....must be replaced as soon as possible.

As you can see.....there is no logical happy outcome with this request, by my humble analysis.  It is a logical step, I admit....as a German would note the Snowden-NSA affair.  But then, when exactly have countries avoided the spy business and been successful at it?  

So, somewhere in Berlin....is a secretary or administrator....preparing for their new job....maintaining the James Bond Book of Books.  It'll be an exciting time and job for a paper-pusher.  They can't talk about their work....just that they keep and maintain a highly secretive book....announcing the name, address and likely rank or profession of several hundred agents and spies in Germany.  It's stuff like this....that movies are made of...like "Our Man in Havana" (Graham Greene).  


No comments: