Pine Gap - ethically unacceptable

A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is "ethically unacceptable". Australian National University Professor Des Ball previously supported the joint Australia-US communications facility near Alice Springs, but changes to its role since the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 have changed his mind. "I've reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past," he said.

But for the past decade it has also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq. "We're now locked into this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused," Professor Ball told 7.30. "And Pine Gap is a key node in that network - that war machine, if you want to use that term - which is doing things which are very, very difficult I think, as an Australian, to justify."