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The profession of love for the Bavarian lifestyle and the large surveillance base southeast of Munich is among the documents in the possession of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, some of which SPIEGEL has seen. The surveillance facility is known for its large "radomes," giant golf ball-like structures which contain state-of-the-art surveillance technology. They were officially closed in September 2004.
The Americans, though, were quietly replaced by telecommunications experts from the German military, part of the Fernmeldeweitverkehrsstelle der Bundeswehr. They moved into the Mangfall barracks, only a few hundred meters from the abandoned NSA structures, laid cables to the radomes and secretly took over the NSA's large-scale surveillance of radio and satellite communications.
Day after day and month after month, the BND passes on to the NSA massive amounts of connection data relating to the communications it had placed under surveillance. The so-called metadata -- telephone numbers, email addresses, IP connections -- then flow into the Americans' giant databases.
In addition, it wasn't just Germans using American surveillance programs. According to the documents, US agents also showed an interest in two BND programs, which, according to American experts, were to some extent even more effective than their own solutions.