Pine Gap’s role in tackling terrorism

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has delivered a stunning statement about Australia’s secretive military intelligence facility in Alice Springs that contains veiled warnings for the nation’s allies and “potential adversaries” alike.

It comes in the same week Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed foreign spies had launched a “sophisticated” cyber attack on Parliament House’s computer network and the nation’s three major political parties on February 7 and 8.

China is the key suspect, according to cyber and strategic policy expects, but authorities say they have yet to determine which country is actually behind the attack.

Today, Mr Pyne made a rare public statement about Pine Gap, a defence intelligence facility in the Northern Territory which Australia operates jointly with the US.

In his speech, Mr Pyne declared America to be Australia’s “most important ally” and notes “potential adversaries” should understand an attack on Australia is an attack on its alliance with the US.

Stealth party to mark 50 years of Pine Gap

K. This is top secret. Pine Gap is turning 50 and will be celebrating the occasion with a stealth party.

As of course they would.

When? According to Donald Trump’s contacts in Moscow it will be this weekend.

It will be big.

There will be a dinner on Saturday at the Convention Centre and there will be something at the spy base – best guess it will be just outside the gates.

The local A-list of movers and shakers have been invited the the dinner which – according to our sources, well informed as they are, will include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop. Local VIPs will include Minister Dale Wakefield and Councillor Jamie de Brenni.

Not that the Convention Centre will let anything slip: “Unfortunately the details of this weekend’s event are not available for public release,” is what we were told.

According to the Australian head of the base (she introduced herself as Barbara) there will be no media passes.

Chansey Paech, the Member of Parliament in which Pine Gap operates, did not score an invitation.

Shhh ... we’re not really supposed to know about this

IT’S the top secret military facility in Central Australia that plays a key role in US intelligence and military operations around the world.

But rather than protecting us from a potential enemy attack, Pine Gap’s very existence makes us an ideal target.
That’s the view of Richard Tanter, a professor in the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne, who told the level of data collected from Pine Gap was beyond staggering.
Prof Tanter has conducted years of research into the facility with ANU colleague and leading authority on Pine Gap, Desmond Ball, and will next week deliver a keynote speech on the potential danger it brings to Australia.
Pine Gap will be just one of several topics discussed at the independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) national conference in Alice Springs on Saturday week.
Peace activists, academics and antimilitarism groups will all travel to the red centre to mark the 50th Anniversary of Pine Gap, aiming to illustrate the huge role it plays in US military activity.
Prof Tanter, a researcher with the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, said Pine Gap remains one of the most important intelligence facilities outside of the United States today.

According to Prof Tanter, its importance to the US military is enough to make Australia a target in any major war our American ally is involved in.
He said Pine Gap allows access to satellites that could spy on every continent — except the Americas and Antarctica.

The data collected is used for drone attacks in places where Australia was not even at war, he said.
Pine Gap also plays a vital role in collecting a wide range of signals intelligence as well as providing information on early warning of ballistic missile launches.
Intelligence gathered here could be used to target nuclear weapons and is also used to support US and Japanese missile defence.

“In the centre of Australia we have Uluru and nearby its ‘evil twin’.”

Pine Gap’s new spy role revealed

Central Australia's Pine Gap spy base has taken on a new electronic surveillance role, making it a "multi-purpose mega-intelligence centre," as Australia and our allies massively increase interception of global satellite communications, a new report by leading espionage experts has revealed.

The United States–Australia Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap is now engaged in foreign satellite intelligence collection as part of the "Five Eyes" intelligence alliance's "collect-it-all" surveillance of global internet and telecommunications traffic.

The new report by Australian National University emeritus professor Des Ball, British investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, Canadian intelligence researcher Bill Robinson and Melbourne University professor and Nautilus Institute researcher Richard Tanter, an independent policy think tank, draws upon secret intelligence documents leaked by former American intelligence contractor Edward Snowden and a wide range of publicly available information.

The authors, all with decades experience in researching intelligence activities, reveal a massive expansion of satellite communications surveillance capabilities by the US National Security Agency and its other Five Eyes partners, the Australian Signals Directorate, the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters, Canada's Communications Security Establishment and New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau.

communications satellite interception is now being conducted from the top secret Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs.

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."