NSA Joke: US Military Intervene over Facebook Event

By

Daniel Bangert just wanted to go for a walk. Zoom
Daniel Bangert

Daniel Bangert just wanted to go for a walk.

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 authorities.

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 affected.

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 jail.'"

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.

Article...
  • For reasons of data protection and privacy, your IP address will only be stored if you are a registered user of Facebook and you are currently logged in to the service. For more detailed information, please click on the "i" symbol.
  • Post to other social networks

Comments
Discuss this issue with other readers!
12 total posts
Show all comments
    Page 1    
1. optional
praha7 07/16/2013
Well it's clear that when it comes to Germany and probably the rest of Europe Obama doesn't have to''scramble the jets''.All he has to do is whistle for his poodles to do his bidding. Make no mistake the so-called allies are now in the same position vis a vis the U.S.as the Warsaw pact countries were to the Soviet Union.
2. Dagger complex
rar1942 07/16/2013
The Dagger Complex has been in Griesheim for more than 60 years. When I was there, it has a different name, but it probably did the same thing(s) as it does now - and because of fences, guards and gates, there is nothing to see except at shift change when people walk into it and out of it.
3. We are not alone.
peterboyle.4848 07/16/2013
Perhaps, with this article we can see just how completely invasive Security Services are in the Free World. All the US had to do is whistle and the German Police snapped to attention then action. "You don't have to worry if you aren't doing anything wrong." Isn't that what they said? SO inviting friends out for a walk is 'wrong'? Perhaps we ALL should use TOR to communicate from now on, like sneaky spies or raving conspiracy theorists? If a facebook post inviting people for a walk is greeted like this imagine what some of the people who post here have to fear. I'm sure this is being monitored also, so those of you who have said things you shouldn't better get ready for that knock on the door.
4. Unbelievable!
High Hat 07/17/2013
As an American, I'd like to say this wouldn't happen here. But I'm not so sure these days. When the police visit and tell you to keep the visit to yourself, you know what they're doing isn't right. No one should live in fear of a knock at the door. I'm fully confident millions of Americans would oppose "police visits". I hope Germans do the same.
5. optional
bob searcy 07/17/2013
the kid proved his point. every word you use in any media is spied on. i dont belong to facepunch, dont have to. my cell and home phone and tv reciever all listen in on me. its totalitarian, and unacceptable.
Show all comments
    Page 1    
Keep track of the news

Stay informed with our free news services:

All news from SPIEGEL International
Twitter | RSS
All news from Germany section
RSS

© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2013
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH




Photo Gallery
Photo Gallery: Timeline of the NSA Spying Scandal

European Partners
Presseurop

Politiken

Corriere della Sera

PM Slams “Disgraceful” Comment

Concordia Leaves Giglio


Facebook
Twitter