RE: Calls to merge the BND and the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV)

While both the BND and the BfV deal with the prevention of terrorism, to merge the two under the Ministry of the Interior, and to leave a small portion of the BND under the responsibility of the Ministry of Defense instead of the Chancelor’s Office, would lead to a number of negative results:

1) Layoffs of staff in times when Left-Wing, Islamist, and – increasingly – Right-Wing terrorism need to be fended off by a higher instead of a lower number of officers.

2) Different organizational roles, with the BfV dealing with domestic threats and the BND with threats from abroad. This differentiation is valid despite a growing importance of data exchanged not only within Germany but also with foreign persons and entities.

3) Different socialization of staff, with officers suited in either analyzing domestic or foreign matters, and possible difficulties in working together, at least initially.

4) Monololization of intelligence under the roof of one agency, which would render such an agency overly powerful and subject to decisional errors.

5) Issues with information security, which might also increase were Germany to create a separate cyber security office similar to the NSA serving both the BND and the BfV.

Thorsten Koch, MA, PgDip
5 November 2020

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