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Federal Intelligence Service [BND]

Administratively the BND is part of the Federal Chancellor's Office, where it reports to the intelligence coordinator in the Chancellor's Office. Some have suggested placing the BND with the Defense Ministry.

Department 1 (Operational Procurement)

Department 2 (Technical Surveillance)

Department 2A of the BND, quartered in the high security building No 109 in Pullach, is responsible for counternarcotics and countering money-laundering activities. It was also involved in the Operation Hades Plutonium incident.

Department 3 (Interpretation)

Department 3 includes 750 officials for assessing information.

Department 4 (Administration)

Department Four activities include the maintenance of the BND its Central File for Persons (PEZD). The centerpiece of the intelligence service and one of the most closely protected files in Germany, the PEZD contains all findings on persons with contacts with the intelligence services.

Department 5 (Security and Defense)

Department 6 (Central Tasks)

Reform - 2017

Federal Minister of the Interior Thomas de Maiziere, generally considered to be measured and sober, thinks Germany needs to "better" prepare itself for trying times. That was how the interior minister, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), expressed himself in an article published under his name in "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ) 03 January 2017, a German national newspaper. De Maiziere examined national as well as European security structures in the article, and concluded: reforms are "required." The core of his analysis called for expanded federal responsibilities, which would demand that states relinquish some of theirs. Formulations such as "centrally operative crisis management" or "control competence over all security agencies" appear throughout the article.

However, the Decembe 2016 terror attack, the most serious in Germany in over 35 years, did not prompt de Maiziere's considerations, it simply gave him a reason to group them together into a kind of list of demands. The interior minister writes that he himself had proposed most of the changes "prior to the attack." The demands affect all authorities and areas of government concerned with defense against the threat of terror: Namely, the police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), Germany's domestic intelligence agency - but also, as the minister sees it, the army. The international scope of the problem, he says, touches on the need to secure Europe's external borders, as well as the global dimensions of the right to asylum.

De Maiziere envisioned turning over protection of the constitution entirely to the federal government. That would require the dissolution of the agency's 16 state offices. His rationale: No one intent upon attacking the constitution was interested in destroying governmental order "in one state alone." Though this sounded plausible as a concept, it could turn out to be too complicated to be put into practice. Domestic security services are charged with more than simply defending against terror threats, they must also identify right-wing and left-wing extremist threats, and spy activities as well. Altogether, the tasks are as complex as they are regionally diverse, making it potentially impossible for the interior minister's state counterparts to effectively help him.

Less likely still was an enhanced domestic role for the army. It was responsible for defending the country in times of war and may only be deployed domestically in exceptional cases. The army has been deployed, for instance, during natural catastrophes such as floods. In his FAZ article, de Maiziere expressly praised the fact that, "the army has been a recognized partner in disaster control for decades." But the minister wanted more. When police are stretched to capacity, soldiers should be able to be deployed to fulfill tasks such as "armed property protection." That would mean changing the constitution, something that requireed a two-thirds vote in both the lower and upper houses of parliament.

De Maiziere also wanted more responsibilitieed for Germany'ed federal police force, "which was currently limited to protecting train stations, airports and national borders." Federal police most recently demonstrated the ability to work alongside colleagues at the state level during New Year's Eve deployments in major cities like Cologne and Berlin. Ministry of interior spokesman Johannes Dimroth spoke of this 02 January 2017, saying that it had become a "lived matter of fact" that the interface of state and federal responsibilities can only function if there was "good cooperation."

Still, de Maiziere wanted even more. He was calling for "central tracking and investigation responsibilities" for the federal police, to enable the "rigorous determination of illegal residency in Germany." At first glance, this appeared to be the wish with the most support. It takes aim at refugees and those denied asylum. Many such people move around or disappear completely, like suspected Berlin attacker Anis Amri. Therefore, the interior minister was asking for "supplementary enforcement jurisdiction for residency termination." In other words: Deportations are to be organized and carried out by the federal government and not the states.

De Maiziere's wish list was long, and he knows how difficult it would be to get just one of these measures passed in Germany. Something that would make it more difficult still was the need for European coordination. De Maiziere pointed to the introduction of an Entry/Exit System (EES), currently being fine-tuned in the European Union, as a positive example. But he thinks the system should be expanded so that it would eventually be "capable of truly recording all movement across the external borders." In light of the large number of refugees arriving in Europe, de Maiziere was making the case for a "real mass-influx mechanism." Although he himself was doubtful about the EU's ability to strike refugee agreements similar to that signed with Turkey with other countries, in particular with some North African states.

According to de Maiziere, the touchiest aspect in all this would be the EU's asylum process guidelines. These contain certain criteria that so-called "safe third states" must fulfill. In his FAZ article, the interior minister wrote that he understands that to mean, "humane and safe conditions of admission" must be guaranteed. Nevertheless, interpretation of the issue was something that has been dividing opinions in Germany and Europe for years, and it was unlikely that anything would change in that regard any time soon. For Europe remains disunited and Germany would be voting on a new government this fall. De Maiziere's proposals must, of course, be considered against this backdrop as well. Two weeks after the Christmas market attack in Berlin, it was more important than ever to display strength and determination when it comes to domestic security.

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Page last modified: 17-01-2017 19:38:18 ZULU