Denmark is part of the inner circle of nations collaborating with the NSA. This new piece of information stems from documents provided by former NSA employee Edward Snowden and analyzed by The Guardian.
The alliance referred to as 'The Nine Eyes' places Denmark above key European allies. In the past weeks focus returned to collaborations between US and European intelligence services – the nature of which both PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Minister of Justice Morten Bødskov refused to comment on.
The structure described in leaked documents from the British NSA counterpart, GHCQ, places the 16 US intelligence services, spearheaded by the NSA, at the top. Four English-speaking nations, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are in the next tier. Their code name, 'The Five eyes', shorthand for 'AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US EYES ONLY ' denotes the classification level of these special 1946 UKUSA agreement.
Previous documents revealed how the United States secretly fund GCHQ's activities.
New role for Denmark
The new information puts Denmark in a previously unknown role. The Nine Eyes are – in addition to Denmark and the before mentioned Five Eyes – France, The Netherlands and Norway, which enjoy higher access level than the next group, 'The 14 Eyes'. Put differently, Denmark appears get US intelligence at a higher classification level than for example Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
In the lowest tier, 'The 41 Eyes', is a number of allies, some of which participated in the coalition in Afghanistan.
The different steps has historically created tension between the United States and their allies. According to The Guardian, "Germany has long protested at its exclusion, not just from the elite 5-Eyes but even from 9-Eyes". Minutes from a GCHQ meeting note: »The NSA's relationship with the French was not as advanced as GCHQ's … the Germans were a little grumpy at not being invited to join the 9-Eyes group«.
Former Danish Intelligence Chief Hans Jørgen Bonnichsen is not surprised that Denmark ranks highly: »It's all about history and capabilities, and not the least surprising", he tells Information.
»We have strong links to the CIA since WW2. This has helped build the trust and respect, which is absolutely crucial in the intelligence world, « says Bonnichsen.
According to a document published by the Spanish newspaper El Mundo last week Information described how Denmark, along with 19 other countries, are part of ' focused cooperation' within a specific framework for exchange of 'intelligence, including metadata'.
So far, the danish government has refused to disclose the content of the cooperation, but they should, as soon as possible, says Nikolaj Villumsen of Enhedslisten.
»We need the Government to put forth very clear explanations about what we are doing with the Americans, and tell us whether the Danes' telephone conversations or e-mails are monitored, as we've seen in other countries,« he tells Information.
»Right now there every good reason for Danes to mistrust what's going on. If they want to close this down, the Government ought to share an interest in creating confidence in the Danish intelligence services and the cooperations we have with other countries.«
An interesting detail in the documents referenced by the Guardian is that France ranks higher than in the document published by El Mundo. Entitled 'Sharing computer network operations cryptologic information with foreign partners', the document describes the exchange of phone and internet metadata between partnering nations.
Documents published by Le Monde last week described how the NSA collected 70.3 million pieces of information about French telephone and mobile phone calls but did not clearly state whether interception was carried out on French territory.
Le Monde has previously described how the NSA was »carefully looking at everything related to the internet domains wanadoo.fr and alcatel-lucent.com« citing documents about the UPSTREAM program. This code name refers to raw data collection from fiber optic cables and internet chokepoints, and seem to indicate that the NSA have accessed French-owned, digital infrastructure.
Other documents pointed out thata certain mistrust exists between French and US Intelligence services, and that mutual accusations of hacking could explain the French demotion in the data sharing agreement.
Although France seem to enjoy deep relations with the NSA, she does not seek an upgrade from 9-eyes to 5-eyes, François Hollande recently told Spiegel Online. According to a former top US official, Spiegel cited, Germany »would be a possibility, but not France. France itself spies on the US far too aggressively for that«.
Germany, on the other hand, reportedly uses the scandal following the disclosure of Merkels phone tap as leverage to join the elite, five eyes.
This presumption was further substantiated by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung which yesterday claimed that a US-German non-spying agreement should be on its way. Such an agreement forms the basis for entering 'The 5 eyes'.