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Jelle van Buuren Discusses Operation Rubicon on Dutch NPO Radio 1

At the beginning of the year, the Dutch intelligence services, together with their American, German and Swiss colleagues, revealed that, for years, confidential communications of more than 100 countries had been intercepted. The project named 'Operation Rubicon' is a collaboration between Germany and the US, the Netherlands were allowed to sit in. But, weren't the Netherlands themselves also bugged as part of this operation?

'It's interesting to see that there's a lot of collaboration in this highly secret project between the Americans and the Germans, but there's also a lot of disagreement' says Jelle van Buuren, Assistant Professor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs of Leiden University. 'As far as the Americans are concerned everybody in the world is ‘buggable’. Whether you are a friend or a foe, if the US have an opportunity to access confidential communication, they should use it, according to the American intelligence services. The Germans think differently. They have more hesitations about supplying, for example, France of the Netherlands, who are allies, with watered down information. Germany, France, and the Netherlands are countries that would normally speaking stick together and support each other, but now Germany, as part of this operation, is suddenly no longer supporting France and the Netherlands. That makes it also politically complicated for Germany. 


The information provided by the secret report on 'Operation Rubicon' raises a number of questions. Is it wrong that Germany and the US were able to listen in on communications of the Dutch police? Van Buuren believes it is. 'They're allies after all, even though the concept of ally has been interpreted very liberally. Every country, for different reasons, might prefer to keep certain information confidential, even from allies and you should be able to rely on that. Now it turns out that allies have been listening in on confidential communications on a structural basis, I think that really is a problem'. 

Listen to the entire segment (in Dutch) on the website NPO Radio 1

Jelle van Buuren is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University - Institute of Security and Global Affairs. His research interests lie in, among other things, European police cooperation, intelligence cooperation and border management. He is currently researching what role conspiracy thinking is playing in processes of delegitimisation.

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