Norway has become the USA's 'eyes and ears'

The spy war – The secret spy cooperation between Norway and the USA
Forfatter: Bård Wormdal
Forlag: Aschehoug (Norge)
INTELLIGENCE COOPERATION / Contrary to Norwegian law, Norway is heavily involved in preparations for war in space, and Norwegian satellites and radar systems are used in the US space war. Bård Wormdal's third book reveals the extensive e-service cooperation between the USA and Norway outside NATO cooperation, authorized in secret agreements, outside the Storting's control. The revelations are startling. The spy war is a factual thriller about Norwegian security policy.


The former NRK journalist Bård Wormdal has since 1999 had large-format excavation journalism as his main work. This year saw the publication of his third book on the intelligence cooperation between the USA and Norway. Wormdal's question is as follows: How does the Norwegian E-service work? How close is the E-service's relationship with the United States? How is the democratic management of the E-service? Does the e-service actually serve Norwegian interests? Who is really in control? Is the control with the E-service good enough? How did the close ties between Norwegian and American E-services arise?

Despite the fact that the E-service is subject to the Public Information Act, some of the material for Wormdal is restricted, with reference to national security. Nevertheless, the content is, to say the least, startling. Wormdal's third book reveals that the Norwegian-American partnership has been further developed into space surveillance, war operations in Afghanistan and activities in the new cyber-the area.

Between 1958 and 1962, in practice, 360 employees in the Norwegian E-service were paid by the USA.

Equally startling is the silence with which Wormdal's documentation has been met in the media for decades.

Is Norwegian intelligence really one of the most important supporters of American intelligence? The intelligence service's budget has tripled since 2005.

Put it on my radar

But how could such a collaboration develop? Shortly after the Second World War, the United States initiated a secret bilateral collaboration with Norway on espionage against the Soviet Union. This was not part of NATO cooperation. Between 1958 and 1962, in practice, 360 employees in the Norwegian E-service were paid by the USA, which Einar Gerhardsen confirmed indirectly. But the bilateral cooperation agreement between the USA and Norway on intelligence cooperation (the NORUSA agreement) has never been discussed in the Storting.

The Norwegian intelligence service has had a radar facility in Vardø since the 1950s. The operation of the facility was expanded in 2000. It set a new standard in Norwegian-American geopolitics. The new Globus III (2022) and II (1999) radars are the world's most advanced radar system, according to the E-service. The operation of the Globus system is Norwegian, but the radars are American-owned. The sensor business provides a direct and important link to the US missile defence.

The radars are American-owned, but the Norwegian authorities deny that the Globus system is part of the American missile defense system.

But the Norwegian authorities deny that the Globus system is part of the American missile defense system. The Norwegian authorities insist that the radar monitors space debris. It is both a useful and important action, since space is densely packed with satellites. But large parts of the warheads launched in Russian nuclear missiles are defective. That space junk is monitored by Norway is therefore not a lie, but it is also not the full truth – the warheads also contain active components that are not monitored by Norway.

New American-owned radar in Vardø

The important Globus facility in Vardø is operated from the Norwegian side, but is in practice an American base. The facility is considered the foremost American tool for control over the northern regions. Globus II's sensor could be used to detect enemy attacks. The Globus radars in Norway cannot be described as part of Norwegian security policy – because that would change Vardø into a Russian bomb target.

The Russian irritation over the construction of a new American-owned radar in Vardø is completely understandable, writes Wormdal. Russia's nuclear weapons are the country's security guarantee. In 2017 and 2018, Russia simulated the bombing of the military facilities in Vardø. These cruises may have continued continuously, since the incidents have not been reported in public documents from the E-service.

The Storting did not get a proper one orientering about Globus II, nor members of the Storting's foreign affairs and defense committee. And not in closed meetings either, despite the great military and security importance, writes Wormdal (17.07.2023) Nor does the EOS committee (the control body for the secret services) have a full overview.

"Who's really in control?"

In 1996, Nicky Hager published the book Secret Power, based on 50 anonymous interviews in the Australian Intelligence Service (GCSB). According to Wormdal, he investigated the Australian part of the global NSA network, where the program ECHELON could intercept telephone conversations as well as read e-mail and electronic data. The method was the tapping of satellites, radar and underground fiber cables. But was ECHELON conducting continuous surveillance globally, as Hager claimed?

It was not until July 2000 that the EU Parliament set up a committee to investigate what the undesirable consequences for privacy and business secrets could be in Europe. The conclusion was that there existed a global system of communications surveillance in cooperation between the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia as a result of cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States. The purpose of the surveillance was civilian communication, not military communication. Many European politicians were not aware of this. The committee presented its findings to Europe's parliaments on 5 September 2001. Six days later, Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks hit New York. Western politicians then became more concerned with strengthening the intelligence service than limiting it.

And in June 2013, Edward Snowden published thousands of top-secret NSA documents about US global surveillance. The documents about the NSA and other Western intelligence agencies contained credible information about a network of listening cables from Finnmark – but also about an extensive Norwegian-American partnership in the northern regions, cooperation in the Balkans and the close partnership in Afghanistan. Norway was the Pentagon's 'eye'.

Wiretapping of Afghanistan

NATO does not have its own e-service and had failed to get member states to share more intelligence, according to Wormdal. But with the war in Afghanistan, closer intelligence cooperation was developed between Norway and the USA. Norwegian military intelligence stations in Kosovo could eavesdrop on all frequencies and the public telephone and mobile network. Norwegian intelligence, which was geared towards and equipped to keep an eye on Russia, now had completely different tasks. Norway's contribution was a milestone and a national support for allied operations, the Americans claimed. In January 2018, US President Donald Trump wrote to Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg: "Norway is 'the eyes and ears' of the Northern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." There is a relationship of trust between the USA and Norway.

Norway was the country that gave the US the most intelligence information about the Afghan authorities.

The Norwegian e-service became involved in a long and bloody war in Afghanistan, where Norway's most important task was to follow the movements of the Taliban. Norway was the country that gave the US the most intelligence information about the Afghan authorities. The use of the so-called RT-RG system could find enemy activity based on soldiers' mobile use within seconds (targets list). The result was 2270 operations with killed or arrested, 1117 arrested and combat actions with the loss of 6534 enemy lives. But it could also lead to the wrong person in the wrong household being arrested.

In violation of the Svalbard Treaty

In Wormdal's previous book The satellite war (2015), the governor of Svalbard had to admit that the SvalSat radar, which was used in NATO exercises in Afghanistan operations, was in violation of the Svalbard Treaty. Svalbard shall not be used for military purposes. The consequences of the extended NORUSA cooperation was that Norway broke the Svalbard Treaty.

Wormdal points out the necessity of obtaining full Norwegian self-financing of the E-service in order to achieve Norwegian independence. The criticism is timely.

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