Are there really two PRISMs, or just one PRISM with NATO involvement?

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If you thought the PRISM debacle couldn’t get any more convoluted, then listen up. It turns out that there are two PRISM programs… or not, in which case the German government may be heading for a fall. It depends on who you believe: the newspaper Bild or the German government.

The German federal elections are coming up and PRISM is a major issue. The opposition parties have demanded answers about what Angela Merkel’s administration knew about the Americans spying on German citizens en masse. The government is sticking to its line that only highly-targeted data-sharing takes place, in order to keep the public safe from terrorism, and that it never knew about the wider PRISM program. Bild published a major scoop, based on a document that was apparently sent by NATO to all the regional commands in Afghanistan back in 2011. This document laid out instructions for cooperation under a program called PRISM, which involved monitoring emails and phone calls, with access regulated by the U.S. Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System (JWICS). This document naturally made its way to the Germans, who are somewhat controversially deployed in Afghanistan and, as Bild framed it, this meant the German government is lying about its PRISM ignorance.


Are there really two PRISMs, or just one PRISM with NATO involvement?