Jefferson Morley | August 28, 2019
Germany: Federal Intelligence Service (BND)
In the News
- “Big Brother? New Turkish App Enables Expats to Report Erdogan Critics” (June 11, 2019)
- “Hacker Attack Targets German Politicians but not the Far Right” (January 4, 2019)
The BND serves to inform policy and political decisions regarding foreign diplomacy and national security. It also protects Germany’s worldwide interests. The estimated BND budget for 2017 was $944 million.
The agency was called to investigate what Bild, a leading newsweekly, called “a huge hacker attack on politicians, celebrities and and individuals.” Almost 1,000 politicians, celebrities and journalists were victims of the largest data leak of their obile phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and private photos.
The German intelligence agency was founded during the Cold War in 1956 as the official foreign intelligence agency of West Germany, which had recently joined NATO. It was the successor to the earlier Gehlen Organization, often known simply as “The Organization” or “The Org.”, whose existence had not been officially acknowledged. The most central figure in the BND’s history was Reinhard Gehlen, the leader of the Gehlen Organization and later the founding president of the Federal Intelligence Service, who was regarded as “one of the most legendary Cold War spymasters.” From the early days of the Cold War the Gehlen Organization and later the agency had an intimate cooperation with the CIA, and often was the western intelligence community’s only eyes and ears on the ground in the eastern bloc. The BND is also regarded as one of the best informed intelligence services in regards to the Middle East from the 1960s. The German service was quickly established as the western’s world’s second largest intelligency agency, second only to the CIA.