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My new book NSA-cooperation with Norway

POSTSCRIPT 

It was pure coincidence that I started to nurture an interest in military intelligence some 17 years ago. A colleague, Inge Sellevåg, in Bergens Tidende, a Norwegian daily broadsheet, saw a brief article in another Norwegian daily newspaper, Aftenposten, reporting that the Norwegian Defence Forces were to have a radar installation in Vardø that was to investigate space debris, a claim he was eager to investigate the truthfulness of. After some investigation Sellevåg needed a journalist working for the main Norwegian TV broadcaster NRK to present his material to the nation. That journalist was to be the undersigned.

 

I have gained some insight into a section of our society that exists for the most part in the shadows, but that is a key factor in Norway’s foreign and security policies. Historians such as Olav Riste and Arnfinn Moland have voiced the opinion that the military intelligence service was Norway’s most important area during the cold war. They have not however discussed in any depth what the military effort was or the degree to which is served Norwegian – or just American – interests. That the then head of the CIA George W. Bush visited Kirkenes in all secrecy in 1976274 or that high-ranking American military guests have long been – and still are – taken by helicopter to the listening stations in Finnmark275 says something about the importance of and not least the sensitiveness of having a close cooperation with the USA on the borders of the world’s largest country. Not only this, but in an area of Norway subject to self-imposed military restrictions designed to avoid provoking the Russian Bear to the east.

 

The then Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen once said in connection with the nation’s cooperation with the USA on intelligence gathering in the north that the USA saw Norway as a vassal state, i.e. a country of limited independence.276

 

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This is a perspective that is seldom aired in the public domain – or at least not by key Norwegian politicians. What is however an undisputable fact is that the shortest route between the two major powers; the USA and Russia, is via the North Pole, and that Norway shares a national boundary with Russia. Both the USA and Russia are currently modernising their nuclear arsenals. From Northern Norway it is an easy task to monitor the major concentration and stock piles of weapons in North-West Russia.

 

The cloak of secrecy surrounding the service has been and remains extreme. The question is whether there has been an excess of secrecy. It was not until the nineteen-seventies that there was public awareness that such a service actually existed. At that point in time the service employed in the region of 1 000 staff. The USA was funding investments and the majority of employees were paid from American funds. We know that the USA is still footing many of the costs, but how much of the total is the US actually funding? This we do not know, as is the case with many other unanswered questions. Does this pose a problem for our democracy?

 

The military intelligence service prefers an existence in the shadow-lands, but public opinion and some politicians have pressured the service to a degree of openness. It is of course the nature of the game that any intelligence service must have secrets, but the veil of secrecy must be a tool to ensure that the organisation achieves its aims, not to close the door on public debate. The intelligence service must be a tool under the control of our elected politicians. Both our elected politicians and the public at large need sufficient information in order to appraise and judge the service. This book is the first serious investigation of the Norwegian military intelligence service that has no relationships or associations with the Norwegian Defence Forces. Others have attempted to do the same before, but the intelligence service has steadfastly refused access to the service’s well-stocked historical archives. This has been a key factor in bringing important research to an abrupt stop.277 Since October 2013 I have attempted to engage in dialogue with the service in many different ways, but thus far without achieving any particularly fruitful results. A proposal for cooperation where the Defence Forces were given the opportunity to remove information that was sensitive enough to do harm to the service was rejected out of hand by Kjell Grandhagen, the head of the intelligence service. Grandhagen was of the opinion that there was no need for another book on the subject. My proposal that we could meet to discuss the practicalities around insight with a basis in the Freedom of Information Act was rejected without any grounds being stated.

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In June 2014 I requested insight into approximately 500 documents that were used as sources of information for the book by Olav Riste and Arnfinn Moland “Strengt hemmelig” – “Strictly Secret”. At the time of writing, June of the following year, I have still not received the documents despite the fact that in March 2015 the Ministry of Defence reversed the decision of the intelligence service to refuse insight after the matter had been dealt with by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and the Norwegian Parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Committee on Intelligence and Security Services in Stortinget, the Norwegian Parliament. Strictly Secret contains a great deal of very interesting information that is documented in the aforementioned 500 documents. I have drawn on the information contained in the book and have therefore been forced to refer to documents that I have not had the opportunity to read first hand. I have had to rely on that the information quoted from the source material in Strictly Secret is correct. In our open and democratic Norway, should it not be a requirement that the Norwegian Defence Forces inform the general public of what they are doing along our border with Russia?

The most important and serious question is whether this cloak of secrecy has resulted in a lack of political control over key and vital security related matters. An open debate in the Storting may prove to be difficult, but such matters can and should be discussed in closed meetings with the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee. This has not always been the case, even with agreements with other nations.278 Even more serious is the fact that vital matters of interest have not been dealt with by the government. One example of this is that there are no signs whatsoever that the satellite downloading station at Fauske, Fauske II, has been dealt with by the then Security Committee. The task allocated to the station, to eavesdrop on and download data from Soviet satellites could easily have become a source of major conflict between the Soviet Union and Norway. It was comparable to that the Russian Northern Fleet had tapped into the fibre cable between Svalbard and Andøya to steal military and civil satellite data from the Svalsat ground station, without prior approval from the Kremlin.279 There is also reason to ask if the politicians had full and sufficient information about the matters they did deal with. Prime Minister Einar Gerhardsen did not for example appear to be particularly well-informed when the Government Security Committee was to take a position on 20th May 1958 on the request submitted by the USA for more equipment and an increase in staff at the listening station in East Finnmark. This was important to the USA as it would make the planning of bombing missions easier, something that Gerhardsen was totally opposed to. Gerhardsen said:

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“in principle one should adopt a positive position where Norway, due to its geographical location, can contribute to our joint defence efforts with services encompassing such obviously defensive measures”. Gerhardsen and the Security Committee then gave full approval to the plans.

 

The Lund Commission refers to that “the intelligence service was willing to go to great lengths to support the USA including in areas that – if found out – could result in foreign policy problems for Norway”. Key researchers have also raised the question of whether it is high time to revisit and revise all the activities of the intelligence service. The service came into being in London during the Nazi occupation of Norway, and was to a high degree developed by resistance members after the end of WWII. The situation today is that the service is one of very few in Europe that is led by a general. There are two links in the chain between the intelligence chief and the Prime Minister – the Chief of Defence and the Minister of Defence . Prime Minister Per Borten said that he met the chief of the intelligence service for the first time by pure chance during a court hearing in Bergen. They had a lot to talk about, but this was the only time they met. Contact between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Intelligence Service has improved, but is it good enough? Take Canada for example, where it is the Prime Minister who is the direct Chief of the Intelligence Service.280

 

The shadows surrounding the service have increased the degree of difficulty in writing of developments during recent decades. What is however clear is that the close mutual cooperation between the USA and Norway has continued up to the present day, despite suffering a setback in the autumn of 1992. The US Congress expressed a strong wish to cut some of the transfers of funds to Norwegian intelligence. The reasoning was that the cold war was over. The US Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger and the CIA opposed the move, but to no avail. Congress adopted a proposal to reduce the transfer of funds to Norway. The cutbacks affected roughly half of the Norwegian intelligence service employees. A number of employees were offered redundancy packages and left, but after only a few years there was again a need to increase staffing and many rejoined the service. Funds continued to be transferred from the USA, as did the cooperation on

 

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the exchange of information and new technology.281 Unlike other countries, Norway maintained and developed its intelligence expertise after the end of the cold war.282

 

The organisation is currently in a period of vigorous growth. The official Norwegian budget increased during the period 2006 to 2015 from MNOK 690 to a massive BNOK 1.2283 This is almost a doubling of the budget in less than ten years. In 2010 the number of employees was 829,284 which is equal to the number employed during the cold war – and this despite the fact that many of the tasks are now automated. The American intelligence service NSA assesses the Norwegian intelligence service to be one of the two most important foreign cooperating partners in technical intelligence surveillance.285 This speaks volumes about the scope of intelligence gathering. The recent increase in tension between east and west has resulted in that there are a number of influential individuals in the Norwegian Parliament that would like to see a strengthening of the service in the north.286

I have concentrated in the work on this book on what for me are three most important questions: What is the real worth of our intelligence service in the defence of Norway? To what degree do the activities of the Norwegian intelligence service serve Norwegian and American interests? And last but not least: To what degree is the intelligence service under public and democratic control?

 

I firmly believe that these three questions should and must be the subject of public debate. There can be no doubt that our intelligence service can be of great value in for example the efforts to combat terror. I nonetheless feel that the debate should commence with whether it is in accordance with the Norwegian self-image as a self-pronounced nation of peace, and with the task of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize, to for example be host to an American tool for space warfare – the Vardø radar – on Norwegian soil. Or indeed to steal Russian satellite data at Fauske on behalf of foreign interests. The debate could also commence with whether it is good Norwegian policy to buy goodwill in the USA by stationing the next generation Marjata close to the Russian border in 2016. I am however highly sceptical to that our public arena and our democracy will prove to be capable of conducting an unambiguous and honest debate on these matters – and this, in my opinion, reveals a serious and fundamental weakness in Norwegian society.

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My new book about military intelligence out in Norway

  ISBN: P9788253038223
Norway is the USA’s dream partner and one of the two most important allies with regard to technical espionage. This was said by the US National Security Agency, NSA, in a document released in 2013 by the whistleblower Edward Snowden. So why is Norway so vital?
For more than 60 years the Norwegian military intelligence service has had a direct, formal cooperation with the NSA and CIA, outside the NATO sphere, and carefully cloaked from the general public in Norway. This book is the first independent investigation into and exposure of this secret collaboration, which has resulted in amongst other things large listening and radar stations in Northern Norway, in particular close to the border with Russia. 

What is the value of these military installations in the defence of Norway? To what degree do these activities serve Norwegian and American interests, and are they really under Norwegian democratic control? 

This book tells the story of the espionage stations, the more or less successful attempts to keep them from the public eye, the military advantages to be gained from them and the societies that are their nearest neighbours. A number of ex-members of the Norwegian military intelligence services have come forward with their stories. This has made it possible for us to get amongst other things the first glimpse into life inside the satellite station at Fauske. 

It is a spectacular segment of Norwegian history that is revealed and a facet of Norwegian life in the 21st Century known – until now – to only a select few.

 

The facts contained within the book have an impact on not only Norwegian society and throughout NATO, but in many other countries throughout the European theatre and indeed worldwide.

 

Global investigative journalist congress

I have been invited and accepted to do a presentation at Global Investigative Journalist Congress at Lillehammer, Norway. I have done this presentation for different audience in US, Russia, India, France and Scandinavian countries – about 30 of them. My work is found in my book The Satellite War, available as e-book and paperback from Amazon. My work is about how use of satellites is changing warfare, from drones to anti satellite warfare. The last year I have written a book about the cooperation between NSA, CIA and military intelligence in Norway. image

New book intelligence collection

    
 

Fauske II, codename Codhook, is one NSA-installation in Norway I write about in my new book for publishing  August. NSA and Norway has been cooperating for more than 60 years, mostly unnoticed by the publiic. Norway has been – and still is – important for US as a border-nation to Russia. I look info techical intelligence, SIGINT, – from  voice intelligence to tapping commando signals from satellites. To keep track of Russian military activity from subsea,  nuclear subs,  to space, intercontinental nuclear warheads. I have interviewed several  former intelligence officers telling about the highly secret cooperation with CIA and NSA reveallling dramatic stories never before known by the public.  This will be the first book done by an independent author about the cooperation.

Arctic Frontiers

Arctic Frontiers is one of the main conferences on Arctic issues. I have been in contact with the conference for four years now, and finally I am here.
There has been many nice words, but no confirmation of my participation. Climate change is of natural reason the main focus. Another important topic is development of oil and gas industry in this vulnerable environment. But I miss more attention to political tensions and military buildup in Arctic. ( The russians are almost missing) It is not the strength of the planning of the conference.
I believe why I have not been invited before is my book The Satellite War is too controvercial for Kongsberg Satelitte Services and other strong environment in Tromsø. I am glad I am eventually here, and already got many useful contacts.

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Unforgettable days in India

I was in the period 31. October to 7. November visiting, Indore, India to introduce my book The Satellite War. The journey was supported by NORLA. (norla.no)

Organizers Indore had made thorough preparations. Before my lecture organizers spent ten minutes to inform about my work in Hindu. Hindu is the main language, but most of the people in the city with three million people speak English. There were about a hundred listeners which consisted of lawyers, doctors, academics, journalists and other interested communities. After the lecture I received many questions which confirmed the interest and knowledge of topic. All four major newspapers made stories about the workshop at http://www.abhyasmandal.com/.

The day after I went along with a peace activist who proved to be a possible new mayor to a girls’ school where I met about 120 students 15-16 years old. I held a briefing about my work and then I answered about 10 questions from the audience, who all showed great interest of my work. This was a very strong personal experience – meeting young people interested in war and peace in a foreign country. WP_20141102_012

I also had a meeting with the head at the University of Inadore, Professor DP Singh.
He was personally concerned about my topics and had been in Oslo for discussions with management PRIO, the Peace Research Institute. It was intended that I should also give a lecture at the University, but it was not possible because of the holidays.

At the end of my stay I had two meetings with journalists. One, Praveen Joshi; had until recently been the chief editor of one of the largest media houses in India and was at my presentation. He would keep in touch to make a story on my book. The other journalist has interviewed me via e-mail afterwards.

I started the application-process for visa a month in advance to be sure to be out in good time. It proved to be a very complicated affair, and I got visa only a few days before departure. There were detailed requirements about personal information and special requirements related to picture of me. It was slow to get long notified additional requirements. I had to receive passport with visa with express delivery just before departure, which also cost extra money. Visa process is much worse for India than going to the United States or Russia.

Topics for my lecture in India

NEW INSTALLATIONS IN POLAR AREAS AND MODERN WARFARE

The most advanced radar in the world for tracking objects in space is situated in Norway. The US-radar Globus II in Norway has a mission for the controversial US missile defense which could give US the opportunity to start a nuclear attack on Russia without being hit by Russian nuclear missiles.

Another important task for the radar is to support US attack of foreign satellites. The radar Globus II is the only sensor for US under all conditions to follow hostile satellites in the important geostationary belt from India to Morocco. Recently both China and India have showed they together with US and Russia have the possibility to start warfare in space.

Modern warfare is dependent on satellites for intelligence, weapon control and a whole host of other interests. Due to their location to the North and South Poles the Norwegian satellite stations on Svalbard ad Antarctica have a unique strength and advantage- they can communicate with Polar-orbiting satellites more frequently than any others. Meanwhile Norway has made a commitment to not utilize Svalbard and Antarctica for warlike purposes. The inspectorate authority in charge of ensuring compliance with the Treaties however, has no insight into the type of data being downloaded.
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