The revelations that Sweden’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), the National Defense Radio Establishment or Försvarets radioanstalt (FRA), helped the global NSA FIVE EYES alliance to eavesdrop on Russia’s political leadership invalidates Sweden’s long-claimed military neutrality, a status that was in place from the end of the Napoleonic Wars of the early 19th century and which survived the Second World War…
FRA has, ever since the days of the Cold War, been a top Third Party signals intelligence (SIGINT) partner for the NSA, even during times when Sweden’s foreign policy was aggressively neutral, such as during the term of Social Democratic Prime Minister, Olof Palme, assassinated in 1986 by what many suspect was a plot involving the CIA. The use of FRA by the United States as a secretive NSA alliance partner in a deal that was largely unknown to Sweden’s own prime minister evokes similar suspicions about the SIGINT services of two Second Party partners of the NSA. In 1975, after Australia’s Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam demanded information on NSA and CIA activities at the U.S. Pine Gap intelligence complex in Alice Springs, as well as the activities of Australia’s Defense Signals Directorate (DSD), he was deposed in a coup led by Governor General John Kerr, a CIA agent-of-influence.
Similarly, after New Zealand Labor Prime Minister David Lange inquired as to details of the intelligence relationship between New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and NSA, he was deposed in a 1989 backbencher coup engineered by U.S. intelligence.
Ever since Palme’s assassination on a Stockholm street, Sweden has been governed by a series of pro-U.S. prime ministers, in addition to other senior Cabinet ministers. Most notable among these is former Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has been identified by WikiLeaks as a longtime CIA asset.
Third Party intelligence from FRA was, for many years, given its own code word designation by NSA: SARDINE. Third Party code word status put Sweden on the same level as two other NSA Third party partners in Scandinavia, Norway and Denmark. Their SIGINT intelligence products for NSA were assigned the code words DIKTER and DYNAMO, respectively.
As a result of Snowden’s revelations, more details are now known about the NSA-FRA relationship. An April 18, 2013 TOP SECRET//COMINT//NOFORN [COMINT is Communications Intelligence and NOFORN [No Foreign Nationals] Information Paper with the subject heading, «NSA Intelligence Relationship with Sweden», states that «the FRA provided NSA . . . unique collection on high-priority Russian targets, such as leadership, internal politics.» The Swedish state-owned television broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT), in reporting on the NSA documents, decided to blur out two key paragraphs: «What NSA Provides to Partner» and «What Partner Provides to NSA».
The fact that the news media, that has possessed varying numbers of classified NSA documents from Snowden has taken upon itself to redact and withhold from the public key information is emblematic of the close relationship of the global corporate press to the intelligence services of the FIVE EYES alliance and its third and fourth party partners. Such draconian censorship by the media has not been witnessed since World War II. Yet, many newspapers like The Guardian of the UK, The Washington Post, Le Monde of France, and Der Spiegel of Germany have patted themselves on the back for publishing excerpts of the classified documents against «pressure» from the NSA and Obama administration. Nothing could be more laughable as these media outlets have cooperated fully with U.S. government censors. And no media outlets have been more retentive about the Snowden leaks than have the disgustingly compliant Scandinavian press, particularly SVT and Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper.
Another NSA memo, written prior to a meeting between NSA and FRA officials, is laudatory to FRA for its leading work on behalf of the American eavesdropping agency. The memo iterates the need to «Thank Sweden for its continued work on the Russian target, and underscore the primary role that FRA plays as a leading partner to work the Russian Target, including Russian leadership . . . and . . . counterintelligence».
The memo also lauds FRA for providing NSA access to submarine telecommunications cables in the Baltic Sea: «FRA’s cable access has resulted in unique SIGINT reporting on all of these areas.» The areas include eavesdropping on Russian political and economic leaders, as well as Russian security agencies, including the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) and Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
The FRA’s Baltic sea cable tap intelligence is also shared with Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), NSA’s FIVE EYES British partner. In222 fact, after the Second World War and the shelving of a plan to create a Nordic Defense Union between Norway, Denmark, and Sweden, because the first two countries opted to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a close relationship was established between the GCHQ and the FRA, although it remained highly secret. The NSA, on the other hand, developed a close alliance with the Norwegian Intelligence Service’s SIGINT branch. Eventually, Sweden’s FRA headquarters at Lovon, outside of Stockholm, was integrated with the U.S. SIGINT System (USSS) in northern Europe, with connections to Danish Forsvarets Efterretningstjeneste (FET) sites near Copenhagen and on the islands of Falster and Bornholm, and on the Jutland peninsula; as well as Norwegian sites at Jessheim, Randaberg, Skage, Andoya, and Vadso; NSA sites at Hof and Schneeberg, West Germany; Chicksands and Menwith Hill, England; Edzell, Scotland; and Keflavik, Iceland. Most of these stations closed after the end of the Cold War.
Although Sweden’s Social Democratic and Green opposition party leaders expressed «alarm» that Sweden was violating its two century-old policy of military neutrality after the Snowden disclosures, Sweden’s governing Moderate Party government, which is actually a reactionary neo-conservative government led by U.S. Republican Party clone Fredrik Reinfeldt, defended the intelligence cooperation with the United States.
Finland’s relationship with NSA so far remains under the classification seal, although it is believed that among the documents retained by Snowden are those that detail NSA’s relationship with the Finnish SIGINT agency, the Viestikoelaitos or «VKL.» During the Cold War, when Finland steered a careful neutral status between the East and the West, the VKL reportedly sold NSA SIGINT on Soviet radar and missile electronic signatures, as well as intercepts of Soviet military communications that were obtained from Finnish airborne platforms equipped with SIGINT equipment, some of which was secretly provided by NSA. The relationship was so secret that carefully-vetted Finnish SIGINT officers visiting NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, Maryland were often introduced with distinctly non-Finnish names as Norwegian, Danish, or Belgian officers.
Today, Sweden and Finland are not as secretive about their relationships with NATO or the FIVE EYES alliance. Both countries are abandoning their traditional neutral status to integrate with a NATO that is ever more aggressive toward Russia and countries of the planned Eurasian Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).
The public has been assured that there are yet more surprises to come from the Snowden documents, said to number more than 58,000 files. No one should be surprised when TOP SECRET NSA documents are released, likely in a pathetically redacted form, that bear the caveats «REL SWE» and «REL FIN», which means «releasable» to Sweden and Finland, respectively. There will be more gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair in Stockholm and Helsinki, but the powers that be in both capitals will nonchalantly continue their countries’ march to full integration with NSA’s «supranational» state among states.