German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert has criticized a government proposal to appoint its own external investigating officers with access to NSA search terms. He wants both government and opposition to have a say.
Lammert told the news magazine Spiegel he did not believe the government should unilaterally select an external investigator who is allowed to view the NSA search terms, also known as "selectors."
The opposition wants the list to be available to a committee looking into the spying activities of the US National Security Agency. However, the German governmentwants to appoint one on its own.
However, in an interview with the leading German news magazine "Der Spiegel", the President of the German Bundestag Lammert said there should be accountability to parliament.
Lammert told Spiegel that he found the idea of deploying one or a few chosen investigators basically worthy of consideration.
"However, from my point of view, the idea of German government appointing this person, is absurd," he said in an interview with Spiegel on Saturday.
The head of the Bundestag, however, said he had a different idea, suggesting there be two investigating officers, one coming from the Christian Democrat-Social Democrat coalition and the other from among the opposition parties.
The Green Party and The Left Party have already threatened legal action if the list of the search terms is not given to the committee.
Even legally a 'no go'
The approach of the German government is also problematic for other reasons. According to "Der Spiegel" and the German weekly newspaper "Die Zeit," an internal report of the research service subdivision of the German Bundestag came to the conclusion that it would be illegitimate to grant an external investigator more rights than to parliamentarians.
According to the report, an investigating officer would serve as an assistant to the parliament and he or she cannot have more rights than the investigating committee itself.
NSA-BND cooperation source of tensions
The recent allegations regarding the NSA scandal, suggest that Germany's BND intelligence agency had, perhaps inadvertently, helped the Americans snoop on European companies and individuals.
The BND's facility at Bad Aibling in the south of the country was meant to gather data coming out of places like Somalia and Afghanistan, but in recent weeks it came to light that some of these selectors provided by the NSA helped it spy on European companies and officials.
The issue of BND cooperation with the NSA is sensitive in Germany, where privacy is highly valued after the extensive snooping by the Stasi secret police in Communist East Germany and the Gestapo crimes of the Nazi era.
ra/rc (dpa, AFP)