German Foreign Intelligence Agency - Spies For students of spookology, the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) foreign intelligence agency has had a chequered history. Founded in the early years of post-war Germany by ex-Nazi master spy Richard Gehlen, the BND is divided into 13 different directorates – each badged by a two letter acronym and overseeing either a particular aspect of intelligence gathering, or focusing on a particular region. The UM directorate is charged with the relocation of the BND to Berlin. A large 100,000 square meter complex is being built on the Chausseestrasse (in former East Berlin), designed to house up to 5,000 intelligence specialists and support staff. Current headquarters are in Pullach, near Munich. The move to Berlin should take place in 2014. Like most intelligence agencies, the history of the BND is varied – with triumphs, disasters, scandals and embarrassments seeming to alternate with each other. Heavily penetrated by the East German STASI in the 1950s, the BND miserably failed to predict the erection of the Berlin wall in 1961. During the early 1960s, and then in the 1990s many outsiders looked on the politically correct BND as a bit of a joke. On the positive side the BND scored some notable successes. The BND detected the sending of Soviet missiles to Cuba in 1962, and warned the American authorities – prompting the Cuban missile crisis. It correctly predicted the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968). In Latin America and the Middle East during the late 1960s and 1970s it was often the best informed Western intelligence service. The BND has been used to broker truces and exchanges between Hamas and Israel – it is generally more trusted in the Middle East than American, British or French agencies. The website www.BND.de includes little such history, and mainly contains explanations of its current structure and tasking according to the requirements of the Federal government of Germany. There are versions available in German, English, French, Russian and Spanish. It's interesting but only scratches the surface of the story. For those interested in a deeper knowledge of the BND the Wikipedia article is a good place to start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BundesnachrichtendienstSee positive reviews
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