US subversion in Norway

Norway has long been a close ally of the USA. Outside of the EU, but inside NATO, it provided bases and consistent support for the USA during the Cold War, unsurprisingly seeing neighbouring USSR as a serious threat to its interests. Yet… those days would seem to be long gone, at least as far as the US is concerned, if a story recently revealed is to be believed.

According to the Dagbladet newspaper, Norway’s TV2 News reported that 15-20 Norwegians, including ex-police, had been recruited by the US Embassy over 10 years to form a secret group, the Surveillance Detection Unit (SDU) that would apparently monitor terrorist threats in Norway. The group operated from a building near the embassy, and collected information on hundreds of Norwegian citizens, whose details were added to a database called SIMAS (Security Incident Management Analysis System).

This was all done apparently without the Norwegian government’s consent, although according to the report, the US Embassy has admitted carrying out the program. The question is – is this standard US practice, or simple a ‘rogue’ embassy group of bored spooks getting above themselves? The answer is that it is almost undoubtedly the former. SIMAS is the US diplomatic service’s global database. According to a Privacy Impact Assessment (!) submitted by the State Department on the system:

“Security Incident Management and Analysis System (SIMAS) is a worldwide Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) web-based application, which serves as a repository for all suspicious activity and crime reporting from U.S. Diplomatic Missions abroad (all U.S. embassies and consulates). Department of State personnel, including Diplomatic Security personnel, regional security officers, and cleared foreign nationals, enter Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) into SIMAS as a central repository for all physical security incidents overseas. SIMAS Reports typically contain a detailed narrative description of the suspicious activity prompting the report, available suspicious person(s) and vehicle descriptors, and other identification data as may be available (e.g. photographs). Reports also indicate date, time and location of suspicious activity, and may include amplifying comments from relevant Bureau offices.”

The data entered into the system on individuals include:

“Citizenship Status and Information (source-documents)

  • DSP-11 (Passport Application)
  • OF-156 (VISA application)

Biometric Information (source-observation and photography)

  • Gender
  • Race
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Eye Color
  • Skin Tone
  • Hair Color
  • Hair Style
  • Images
  • Age or Estimated Age
  • Body Type (Build)
  • Scars, Marks, & Tattoos

Other (source-personal interview by authorities)

  • Name
  • Address
  • DOB
  • Telephone Number
  • Father’s Name
  • Mother’s Name”

It is supposed to be limited to “suspicious or potentially threatening incidents gathered from observations in the vicinity of a post” in order to protect the embassy, however it seems that far more was going on in the case uncovered in Norway, and it would not be surprising if the SDU was operating as a cover for a range of other intelligence activities.

Update: the Norwegian government is now complaining to the US government about this, saying that it breaks Norwegian privacy laws. But, but… they did a PIA! Surely everything is okay now? Oh, and the US claim that “Norwegian authorities had been informed in advance about the surveillance activities.” Hey, this means someone is lying to us! Surely not… 😉

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

6 thoughts on “US subversion in Norway”

  1. P.J. Crowley at the US Department of State now claims that they informed the Norwegian goverment, they just don`t remember how…

    I`m afraid this whole thing, and the truth, will be submerged by both goverments when the US has had enough with the complaints and annoyance from tiny Norway.
    Some agreement between the countries that this was all informed and allowed 10 years ago will happen.
    Us norwegians have a short memory in these cases, and the sitting goverment has had an foul tendency to just hush things down if they get unpleasent questions. The election is three years away, so they got all the time they need to make sure the memory loss works its magic.

  2. Sweden is now saying this has been happening there too – well, of course, it’s a global program. I got the PIA on now too, and sent it to some Scandanavian contacts, so hopefully one or two of the more intelligent journalists will pick this up sooner or later…

  3. yes I guess it is uS policy it happened in Sweden and of course in other countries too US has just placed itself above all laws and rights it is time to be deflated (opposite of inflated) and get REAL …superiority step down and be more humble is my advice..there are so many countries in the world with beautiful cultures and customs and traditions and it is time US starts looking at itself in a mirror and be more scrutinizing …..stop sending lots of money to countries that only use them for power and arms…stop the military…spending so much on warfare …….stop meddling in other country´s affairs and try to teach democray…take care of your own people and the healtcare for the poorer and justice for all.USA could really take a leading position with the right leaders to move towards a more sustainable world where true freedom of speech and liberty soveriegnty justice compassion reign.

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