The Shadow World of Germany’s Spies - How Much Intelligence Does Germany Need? - Part 1 & 2 | DocFilm | DW | 22.08.2016
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The Shadow World of Germany’s Spies - How Much Intelligence Does Germany Need? - Part 1 & 2

For 60 years, Germany’s intelligence agency, the BND, worked in the shadows, and would have continued that way if American whistleblower Edward Snowden hadn’t changed everything.

The BND employs thousands of officials with false names and false passports to obtain secrets about foreign states and information that should be read in every newspaper. How does the Islamic State operate? What are Vladimir Putin's plans? What threat will Germany face next? BND agents need to advise the German Chancellery on all these issues and more. They work for the Defense and Foreign Ministries amongst others. The BND is the German government’s sixth sense.

09.08.2016 DW Doku BND PRESSE 04

In armored vehicles and carrying machine guns: German agents on a dangerous mission in northern Iraq

Out of Control

But the BND is experiencing a deep crisis of confidence. One wiretapping scandal after another has rocked the service. Nothing and no one seems to be safe from the spies’ prying: German citizens’ emails and telephone calls have been monitored without cause. BND agents have helped their US counterparts to spy on companies in Germany, tapped Hillary Clinton and Kofi Annan’s phones and even kept German diplomats under surveillance. The service has gotten out of hand.

Gerhard Schindler BND Präsident

Former BND Director Schindler wanted to make the intelligence services more transparent and was fired.

Spymaster Fired

Now BND Director Gerhard Schindler has had to step down. Was he sacked because of the BND’s mistakes or because they became known? At least Schindler was the first BND president to admit that his ministry had overstepped the mark. In an exclusive interview for this film, Schindler said: “I believe the current widespread discussion about the Federal Intelligence Service, about its powers and its limits, is long overdue (...) I think that effective oversight won’t harm us – it will be to our benefit.”

09.08.2016 DW Doku BND PRESSE 01

The BND’s new home in Berlin: one of the central atria in the final stages of construction

How Far Can Intelligence Services Go?

Was Schindler fired for his candor? Rainald Becker and Christian H. Schulz had the opportunity to speak him again after his departure from the agency. They also interviewed the head of the Chancellor’s office, Peter Altmaier. The film focuses on the following issues: Who can restrain this espionage operation with its vast eavesdropping capacity and hunger for data? What does the BND actually do? And what is its role in shaping policy and where should it draw the line?

A coproduction of Ventana-Film Berlin and SWR, RBB and DW, in cooperation with ARTE

Broadcasting Hours:

Part 1

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Part 2

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