Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Obama To Open Secret Laboratories to Germany? Maybe not!

Obama To Open Secret Laboratories to Germany: That was the headline in Spiegel Online, the internet arm of Germany's Der Spiegel—one of Europe's largest weekly magazines with a circulation of more than one million per week.

On Monday, US Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and Germany's Minister of Education and Research Annette Schavan, signed an agreement on the future scientific and technological cooperation between the two nations in the field of civil security.

Whether this cooperation goes so far as the United States opening it's secret labs to Germany, as Der Spiegel maintains, is questionable.

Maddeningly, outrageously and unacceptably, I was unable to locate a copy of this public document anywhere online—including US and German government sites. However, Heise.de claims to have obtained the full text of the document.

I have provided a synopsis of their analysis below:

The agreement was merely a "framework for the promotion, development and facilitation of bilateral scientific and technological cooperation activities in the context of civil security," and there is nothing specific in the agreement about the sharing of secret information.

The main points of the 31-page agreement are the:

  • Defense and the detection of threats to civil security and response to these threats
  • Forensic Science and placement in relation to security threats
  • Protection of critical infrastructure and key resources
  • Crisis response and consequence management and mitigation of serious events

Special attention is applied to the:

  • Development of solutions to the security of people
  • Development of solutions which increase the security of individuals without restricting their freedom

“Conversely, this means that solutions which do in fact limit civil liberties could also be developed, even if they are not the main focus of research efforts.”

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