(The illustration is a metaphor for a Danish secret military investigation into what the National Security Agency was sucking out of Denmark’s spy network. See footnote Operation Dunhammer. [i])
Latest revelations concerning Denmark’s systematic spying upon its closest neighbor leaders—Germany, France, Norway and Sweden—since 2013 were broadcast and published online recently by the public service medium Danmark Radio (DR). Earlier revelations were made public last August and December through a military analyst whistleblower. What is new about this treachery to its own people and its closest neighbors?
- EU/NATO allies have been spied upon for the United States by the Danish Intelligence Service (Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste-FE), and without knowledge of parliament and, perhaps, even government leaders.
- France, Norway and Sweden leaders spied upon have come forth with strong critiques and demands for an investigation, for full clarity, and an end to such “grotesque” behavior. They backed up Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel critical statements in 2014 when Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. tapped into her private cell phone calls. Snowden: Leaks that exposed US spy program.
- This spying by FE is now known to be code named Operation Dunhammer. [i]
In addition to spying upon its neighbors, FE has been illegally and systematically spying upon its own citizens for United States economic profit and political interests. This has nothing to do with spying upon their ”enemies” (Russia, China, Iran, et. al.)
FE is the equivalent to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. While the FE jurisdiction also covers military intelligence, they must not spy on Danish people—only foreigners and those in other countries. The Police Intelligence Service (PET) surveils Danes, as the FBI surveils people within the U.S.
Both FE and NSA refuse to comment. Nor has Barak Obama or Joe Biden apologized to Merkel, whom Obama told in 2013 that such tapping into her phone would not occur again.
For several months DR has been working with journalists from Sweden (SVT), Norway, Germany (Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR, WDR) and France (Le Monde) on these new developments. Their work forced some of 35 national leaders known to be spied upon by the U.S. to come forth.
“We demand to be fully informed about matters concerning Swedish citizens, companies and interests. And then we have to see how the answer sounds from the political side in Denmark,” Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist told national broadcaster SVT.
Norway, Sweden Demand Answers on Espionage After Report of Denmark Helping NSA Spy on EU Politicians – Sputnik International (sputniknews.com)
“We take the allegations seriously,” his Norwegian counterpart Frank Bakke-Jensen told national broadcaster NRK.
Both defense ministers emphasized that their Danish colleague Defense Minister Trine Bramsen had failed to inform them about the NSA’s espionage against Denmark’s neighbors.
“We did not get to know anything concrete about the case at all,” Frank Bakke-Jensen of Norway complained.”
“The French Foreign Ministry’s minister of state for European affairs, Clement Beaune, called the possible U.S. spying campaign on European politicians a very serious thing, and called for further verification of the information…If confirmed, Beaune did not rule out ’consequences.’”
PM Emmanuel Macron said such behavior is “unacceptable among allies”.
Danish Defense Minister Trine Bramsen said the government “can and will not enter into speculation about intelligence matters”, yet she emphasized that she views the systematic wiretapping of close allies “unacceptable”.
Just why the Danish government “cannot” speak publically (that is democratically) or even privately to its neighbor leaders about its spying is not forthcoming.
Concerning the new revelations, Edward Snowden states: Edward Snowden på Twitter: “Biden is well-prepared to answer for this when he soon visits Europe since, of course, he was deeply involved in this scandal the first time around. There should be an explicit requirement for full public disclosure not only from Denmark, but their senior partner as well.” / Twitter
Snowden had first revealed some of the spying in 2013, including against Germany Chancellor Merkel. XKEYSCORE
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Photo by Emilio Esbardo. Crescita e occupazione in Europa | | il Nuovo Berlinese |
The information of long-standing illegalities, including its constitution, by the Defense Intelligence Service, which the Danish Intelligence Oversight Committee (TET) presented to the public last August, includes:
- Withholding “key and crucial information to government authorities” and the oversight committee between 2014 and today;
- Illegal activities even before 2014;
- Telling “lies” to policymakers;
- Illegal surveillance on Danish citizens, including a member of the oversight committee. (Some of this illegal spying had been shared with unnamed sources [perhaps the U.S.?]);
- Unauthorized activities have been shelved and;
- The FE failed to follow up on indications of espionage within areas of the Ministry of Defense.
When DR first exposed some of this spying, Defense Minister Bramsen suspended five FE leaders responsible. Under pressure from several political parties, and most likely the U.S., she reinstated them in different jobs.
She also said that a secret internal investigation into the reports by TET would begin in December and last one year. Results will be shown to a select few. What will be and not be investigated is not to be made public either.
Denmark will definitely not allow a full disclosure. That was made clear by politicians to DR when it first published the whistleblower’s revelations. DR judiciary reporter Trine Marie Ilsøee said, “We cannot expect that most of the possible illegalities committed will be made public.” She added that Denmark’s intelligence services are connected to and dependent upon foreign powers [i.e. U.S. and not Europe]. Denmark could be compromised if secrets were revealed. “After all, intelligence services operate in secrecy.”
Last year, I wrote: “Denmark’s military allows the United States’ National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on the nation’s Finance Ministry, Foreign Ministry, private weapons company Terma, the entire Danish population, and Denmark’s closest neighbors: Sweden, Norway, France, Germany and the Netherlands (NL).”
Information the NSA acquired with the aid of Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service was used to convince its government to buy Lockheed-Martin’s Joint Strike Fighter F-35 capable of carrying nuclear weapons, albeit Denmark forbids the possession of nuclear weapons on its territory.
“NSA and FE signed an agreement in 2008 that enables NSA to tap huge amounts of data sourced from Danish fiber-optic communication cables passing through Denmark. This metadata is stored by the Danish Defense Intelligence Service in a center built with NSA guidance and technical assistance on the small island of Sandagergaard to which the NSA has access.
The Sandagergård complex of the FE on the island of Amager, where a data center was built specifically to store data from the joint NSA-FE cable tapping operation. Electrospaces.net: The NSA tried to spy on Danish and other European targets via cable tapping in Denmark
“Sandagergaard is one of three Danish military-intelligence ‘listening posts’ which trawls through and analyzes global internet data, seeking information, for example, on what Terma, Denmark’s largest weapons firm, has. This is clearly an intrusion on capitalism’s basic principle and need for free-market competition.”
On September 24, 2020, DR published articles (and broadcasts) exposed more illegal activity.
”FE may have violated one of the clear rules that apply to the Danish military and foreign intelligence service: FE is only set in the world to protect Denmark from external threats and to safeguard Danish interests abroad. FE may therefore only come into possession of Danish information by chance.”
Smug Defense Minister Trine Bramsen at ”flag day” ceremony for warring soldiers. Veteraner og udsendte soldater blev hyldet: Se fotos af flagdag og kranselæggelse på Kastellet. – politiken.dk
“Fiber optic cables suck up and copy metadata, sms, chat, telephone calls, emails. The cables fetch data over Danish internet traffic, tapping into Russian communication, as well as German and other European countries’ internet world. Whatever this new equipment is, it probably is similar to or more advanced than XKEYSCORE, which Denmark also possesses….Besides land-based electronic surveillance, there are hundreds of transoceanic submarine cables carrying information between many countries. For decades, Denmark has had a key European cable connected to the U.S., which NSA taps into. In addition, there are new submarine commercial cables.”
Four FE military hacker/analysts alerted FE chief Thomas Ahrenkiel and “collection” chief Lars Findsen, in 2014, that they suspected NSA was using these cables to spy upon Denmark’s closest neighbors. They got the green light to dig deeper into this. That is when Operation Dunhammer began.
They issued their report to Ahrenkiel in May 2015. He did nothing, nor did the government. So, at least one of them “blew the whistle” to TET four years later. TET came forth with the six overall points listed above. While that was made public, the government did not offer any assurance that anything would happen. So one of the FE analysts went to Denmarks Radio.
Some experts hope that this exposure could lead to strengthening the Danish Intelligence Oversight Committee’s functions, such as having powers to oversee FE documents and interrogate responsible leaders. This undermanned five-person civilian oversight committee, founded in 2014, has only eight employees and a pauper’s budget of $1.3 million.
The Defense Intelligence Service’s 2020 budget was $160 million. How the funds are used is secret, and no oversight committee knows how the money is used nor can they determine its usage.
NSA with FE “are deep inside and digging into some Danish industrial secrets, which is usually what we accuse the Chinese of doing all the time [Huawei],” Tobias Liebetrau, intelligence researcher for the Center for Military Studies at the University of Copenhagen, told DR.”
Prime Minister Frederiksen and President Trump at NATO meeting in London. She said about her talk with Trump, “We swing well.” Mette Frederiksen ved mødet med Donald Trump. I venstre side ses Trine Bramsen og Jeppe Kofod.Shealah Craighead/The White House/Ritzau Scanpix
U.S. Response: What to Expect
U.S. government vicepresschief Karine Jean-Pierre told U.S. reporters that the Biden government will cooperate with Denmark and other European allies, and will “answer every question”. Efter spionage-afsløring: USA lover at besvare “ethvert spørgsmål” | Udland | DR
A frequent Danish media source regarding defense matters, Peter Viggo Jakobsen, lector at the Defense Academy, was asked what he expected would be the outcome.
“This is an embarrassing matter for the Americans. Joe Biden must try to find a grimace useful for sweeping this under the carpet.”
According to Danish reporters, Peter Viggo explained that European leaders are probably not surprised that Denmark was used to spy upon them, and one “should not expect any big changes. Taping [spying] will continue in one or another form.”
The expert believes that Germany and France may wrestle a deal with Biden to stop interfering with the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline from Russia.
“The Americans have done this here for many years. They did it under the Cold War. Germans [just like Danes] are deeply dependent militarily on a big power that NATO countries are, so there are limits to how much one can let oneself get worked up.”
Jakobsen concludes: “This is the price of American security guarantees.”
Colleague Finian Cunningham explains what European “allies” mean in “real politics”.
“What this clearly demonstrates beyond any equivocation is that the European governments are quislings and vassals under Washington’s control. They are not ‘allies’ as that word implies a mutual partnership of equals. They are abject lackeys to American power who cheat on themselves. Talk about treacherous!
“This explains why Russia and China have both seen their relations with Europe deteriorate so badly. Under the prevailing EU governments, it is virtually impossible for Moscow or Beijing to conduct productive relations with Europe. That would require the European Union to have a modicum of independence and autonomy. As it is, however, the Europeans are mere subordinates to Washington’s diktat. And so, America’s renewed Cold War hostility towards Russia and China is reflected unquestioningly by the European bloc. Because the Europeans are nothing but satellites of the US imperium.” US Spying on EU Lackeys – Sputnik International (sputniknews.com)
Ironies! First is the betrayal of Denmark’s long-standing friendly association with European countries and its leaders. Also, it has been Social Democrat women feminist leaders who started these super spying activities since 2013, during the first SD woman PM term of Helle Thorning-Schmidt (October 2011-June 2015) . Following Snowden’s revelations, including tapping Angela Merkel’s phone, Thorning-Schmidt embraced her “comrade”, assuring her that Denmark was not and would not be involved in such spying. All the while she know of the FE internal report. Then the next Social Democrat woman Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and her war minister, Trine Bramsen, went deeper into NSA’s spying activities.
These so-called “social democrats”, who are usually referred to as “socialists” by the likes of wishy washy Bernie Sanders, even “communists” by the likes of Donald Trump and other Republicans, are the most endearing Danish politician lap dogs, even more so than the more honest bourgeois politician hawks, who openly swear never-ending loyalty to the United States no matter what.
Another irony is that Denmark’s media, both DR and daily newspapers, did not even cover the extradition trial of Julian Assange in England—nor do they support him otherwise. In that trial, the British government prosecution, speaking for the U.S. government, made it clear for the first time that Assange is a publisher, and he, like ALL reporters/publishers in the world must not reveal U.S. national security secrets on pain of long imprisonment in the U.S.
Following DR’s first FE/NSA exposé, I spoke on the telephone with DR foreign affairs editor Niels Kvale about the U.S. government threat to all journalists. Since DR was publishing U.S. security secrets in cahoots with Denmark’s military, I told him that DR reporters could be prosecuted in the U.S.
Kvale replied: “I was not aware of that. This sounds interesting. Send me your article and I will inform our journalists.”
[i] Dunhammer in English means cattails or bulrush, which grow in bogs. “One particular famous story involving bulrushes is that of the ark of bulrushes in the Book of Exodus. In this story, it is said that the infant Moses was found in a boat made of bulrushes. Within the context of the story, this is probably paper reed (Cyperus papyrus).
When fish make beds over bulrush, they sweep away the sand, exposing the roots. This dense region of roots provides excellent cover for young fish.” Bulrush – Wikipedia
So Operation Dunhammer could be a metaphor referring to a team of Danish military intelligence hacker/analysts’ investigation into NSA’s hidden useage of Denmark’s spying networks. More on this further into the story.
Denmark is one of the US’s closest Eyes, part of “9 Eyes”, which also includes Norway and France, and “14 Eyes”, which includes German and Sweden. What is unravelling seems to show that Denmark is US’s lead Eye into spying on other allies, such as : Germany, France, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic countries have the same language and cultural roots, including having been the warring Vikings. Norway and Sweden were also under Danish colonial control for centuries. More about that in my piece, Outposts of the U.S. Surveillance Empire: Denmark and Beyond – CovertAction Magazine