Speaking before the special parliamentary committee looking into the activities of the NSA, Gerhard Schindler admitted that the BND had made mistakes in how it had handled requests from the NSA, but he defended the need for cooperation with the American spy agency.
“We are dependent on the NSA, not the other way round,” said the spy chief.
Schindler claimed that the BND had not checked the 'selectors' which the NSA had sent them in any thorough manner.
These selectors were search terms, such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses, which were used to target the BND's computer surveillance systems at specific individuals or organizations.
In recent weeks it has emerged that among the hundreds of thousands of selectors sent by the NSA to the BND were European companies and senior political figures in France and the European Commission.
“The monitoring of the selectors was from the start onwards only partial,” said Schindler, adding that organisational dysfunction needed to be addressed within the agency.
Schindler claimed to have only found out about some of the more problematic search terms sent by the NSA in March, blaming this on a lack of communication between the BND headquarters and its branches across the country.
But Schindler defended the relationship with the NSA, saying that the American spies were there to protect Germany.
“Without this cooperation we wouldn't be able to carry out our work,” he said.