Tuesday, July 16, 2013

NSA Joke: US Military & German federal police Intervene over Facebook Event


NSA Joke: US Military & German federal police Intervene over Facebook Event




By Judith Horchert


As a joke, a German man recently invited some friends for a walk around a

top secret NSA facility. But the Facebook invitation soon had German federal

police knocking at his door. They had been alerted by the American



Normally, Daniel Bangert's Facebook posts tend to be of the serious variety.

The 28-year-old includes news items and other bits of interest he encounters

throughout the day. "I rarely post funny pictures," he says.


Recently, though, he decided to liven up his page with something a bit more

amusing -- and decided to focus on the scandal surrounding the vast Internet

surveillance perpetrated by the US intelligence service NSA. He invited his

friends on an excursion to the top secret US facility known as the Dagger

Complex in Griesheim, where Bangert is from.


He described the outing as though it were a nature walk. He wrote on

Facebook that its purpose was to undertake "joint research into the

threatened habitat of NSA spies." He added: "If we are really lucky, we

might actually see a real NSA spy with our own eyes." He suggested that

those interested in coming should bring along their cameras and "flowers of

all kinds to improve the appearance of the NSA spies' habitat."


Perhaps not surprisingly, not many of his friends showed much interest in

the venture. But the authorities did. Just four days after he posted the

invitation, his mobile phone rang at 7:17 a.m. It was the police calling to

talk about his Facebook post.


'I Couldn't Believe It'


Bangert's doorbell rang at almost the exact same time. The police on the

telephone told him to talk with the officers outside of his door. Bangert

quickly put on a T-shirt -- which had a picture of NSA whistleblower Edward

Snowden on it along with the words "Team Edward" -- and answered the door.

His neighbor was outside too so as not to miss the fun.


The police wanted to know more about what exactly Bangert had in mind. "I

couldn't believe it. I thought: What? They are coming for such nonsense?"


Bangert says he answered all of the questions truthfully, saying that, yes,

his intention was that of heading out to watch the spies. "The officers did

smirk a bit," he notes.


How, though, did the police get wind of Bangert's planned "nature" walk? A

spokeswoman for the police in nearby Darmstadt told SPIEGEL ONLINE that the

US Military Police had found the Facebook post and passed it along to German

officials. The Military Police are responsible for security within the

Dagger Complex, but outside the fence, it is the Germans who are in charge.


Not long later, Bangert got another call asking him to report to Central

Commissariat 10 of the German federal police. They too then sent an officer

to his home. "The wanted to know if I had connections with (anarchist

groups) or other violent people," Bangert says. He told the officers that he

didn't, repeating over and over that he "just wanted to go for a walk."


Ignoring the Police


The officers, says Bangert, were unimpressed and called him a "smart aleck,"

before hinting strongly that he should obtain a demonstration permit before

he embarked on his outing. They then told Bangert not to post anything about

their visit on the web.


Bangert took their first piece of advice, registering his "demonstration"

even though, as he says, "it wasn't supposed to be one." But he ignored the

police's second suggestion and reported on their visit on his Facebook page.

"How much more proof do you need," he wrote. "Everyone says that they aren't

affected. But then I invite people for a walk and write obvious nonsense in

the invitation and suddenly the federal police show up at my home."


The police spokeswoman sought to play down the incident. The officers from

Central Commissariat 10 are responsible for public demonstrations, she said.

And the fact that the American Military Police reported the Facebook post

isn't surprising either, she said. The police, she noted, usually only learn

of publicly announced Facebook parties when they are notified by those



More Walks in the Future?


Nevertheless, news of the incident spread rapidly via Twitter and blogs, and

the local media reported on it as well. "My grandma was angry with me,"

Bangert says. "She said: 'You have to be careful or you'll get sent to



He wasn't sent to jail, of course. But the added interest in his invitation

meant that some 70 people gathered on Saturday for the NSA safari in

Griesheim -- along with two police cars, one in front and one behind. "Some

members of the group tried to get the NSA spies to come out of their

building," Bangert wrote on Facebook afterwards. Unfortunately, they didn't

see "any real NSA spies." But they had a good time nonetheless -- to the

point that many suggested another walk just like it.


So is he planning a repeat? "I didn't say that and I didn't write it

anywhere," Bangert replies. The smart aleck.



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