Another NSA Scandal: What Spy Unit Tapped EU Leadership’s Phones - Politics | PoFo

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Operation Dunhammer was an internal investigation conducted by the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (FE) which concluded the agency cooperated with NSA to wiretap senior politicians, government officials and entities of certain European Union countries.

In May 2015 four FE military hackers/analysts alerted FE Chief Tomas Ahrenkiel that in 2014 they suspected NSA was secretly spying on Denmark’s closest neighbors.

It is noted that Danish military from 2012 to 2014 helped NSA operatives to spy on key figures in Germany, France, Norway and Sweden, such as Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmier and chancellor candidate for the German center-left socialist party Peer Steinbruck. American state-sponsored hackers remained undetected because of the access to Danish internet cables, provided by FE.

However, it is quite surprising why such news may still shock someone. The information that the United States bugs the EU leadership became publicly known in 2013, after the revelations made by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

An anonymous source from US intelligence community stated that such operations could be conducted by hackers from the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a highly classified cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit, which was active until 2017.

Former NSA Director Michael Hayden in his book “Playing to the Edge – American Intelligence in the Age of Terror” stated that TAO was “the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA’s huge Signals Intelligence Directorate, consisting of more than 1000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers. In 2017 TAO has been reformed into Computer Network Operations.


From 2013 to 2017 the position of TAO director was held by Robert Joyce. In 2018 he served as White House Homeland Security Adviser to President Donald Trump. Today he’s acting as the Director of Cybersecurity at NSA.


Undoubtedly, the uncovered fact of systematic spying by the United States on its allies significantly undermines trust within NATO. Angela Merkel has repeatedly stated that the US is no longer a reliable partner. Emmanuel Macron also described Washington’s behavior as “unacceptable”. All this calls into question the effectiveness of the North Atlantic alliance. It seems that the solidarity among NATO members falls apart like a card-castle. Most likely, soon it may suffer the Warsaw Pact Organization’s fate.

Meanwhile the eavesdropping scandal will barely affect the United States; however, it will significantly disrupt Europe’s unity. France and Germany demand answers, while the Danish authorities refuse to comment on “speculations in mass media”. It looks like some EU countries prefer to build relations with Biden administration, ignoring the interests of their closest neighbors.

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