|Pine Gap, Australia|
Remember the name “Pine Gap.” It lies at the heart of this story.
I’ve always thought Australians were more blunt and forthright than Americans. I don’t know if that’s true, but the current debate about total surveillance in the Land Down Under is cutting to the bone.
The government wants to tax the Australian people so it can use giant telecoms to collect wall to wall “metadata” on them. (Pay us so we can spy on you.)
The Age newspaper reports on an Australian senate inquiry into the plan:
“ASIO [the national security service of Australia] chief David Irvine told the inquiry last week that increased data retention powers were needed to tackle terrorism and that ‘the public should not be concerned that there’s going to be gross misuse’ of them.
“‘For the life of me I cannot understand why it is correct for all your privacy to be invaded for a commercial purpose, and not for me to do so to save your life,” he [Irvine] said.
Blunt. That’s what I’m talking about. Notice Irvine’s use of “me”. He’s personally going to save Australia.
And Irvine assumes no one in Australia cares about corporations profiling them seven ways from Sunday, in order to sell them products, and therefore, why not let the government invade their lives?
American politicians rarely let the cat out of the bag in that way. Primped by PR minions, they circle vaguely around a point, and spout empty generalities until everyone falls asleep.
Not this man Irvine. He lets loose. He may as well have been saying, “You morons have already surrendered yourselves to corporations, so let me come in and finish the job.”
Infowars.com reports on another gem dropped at the senate inquiry: “One so called Liberal senator, Ian MacDonald, agreed, saying that he would ‘rather be alive and lack privacy than dead with my privacy intact’.”
Terrific. Come right out with it. Better a slave than dead. ‘Yes, we’re going take away your privacy and freedom, but you’ll still be breathing.’
In an US senate committee room, you’d hear something like this instead: “We’ve introduced very specific algorithms that ensure privacy protections are handled with sensitive concerns for all citizens, in accordance with our long-standing American traditions…”
Former NSA attorney Stewart Baker, a visiting meddler from the US, testified to the Australian Senate in language he would never use in America. He said the war against terror was being obstructed by ”an unholy alliance of business and privacy activists.”
Obviously, Baker was there to help expand American-Australian sharing of spy-data. NSA sniffs a new data-mining program anywhere in the world, and they want in on it.
But there is more. Much more.
Richard Tanter provides context in his article, “The US Military Presence in Australia.” (The Asia-Pacific Journal, Nov. 11, 2013)
“Australia is now more deeply embedded strategically and militarily in US global military planning, especially in Asia, than ever before…[there is an] integration of Australian military forces organizationally and technologically with US forces, and a rapid and extensive expansion of an American military presence in Australia itself.”
The glittering crown jewel is Pine Gap.
“The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap outside Alice Springs remains the most important US intelligence base outside the US itself.”
Underline that statement.
In addition to monitoring movements of missiles in Russia and China, and detecting missile launches, “Pine Gap, and the wider US global signals intelligence system of which it is a part, now integrates surveillance and monitoring of global internet and email traffic and mobile telephone use.”
Corollary: without Pine Gap, the NSA has no existing way to spy on the world.
“Pine Gap undoubtedly has a major role in providing signals intelligence in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“This has now extended to US counter-terrorism operations, including the provision of data facilitating drone strike targeting in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen in close to real time.”
Thus, Australia, whether it likes it or not, is playing a major role in US drone attacks.
“Since May 2013, the role of Pine Gap’s principal, signals intelligence gathering and processing role has returned to the world’s front pages courtesy of the extraordinarily courageous whistle blowing by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.”
Snowden revealed that Pine Gap is one primary base from which the now-infamous NSA PRISM spying program operates.
Pine Gap is absolutely crucial to US military and intelligence agendas around the world.
It a vital link in NSA’s world spying operation.
Tanter remarks that, since Pine Gap is used to collate data directing US drone killing-strikes, the Australian government is legally culpable in those killings.
Suppose, in Australia, a significant political movement arose, with the objective of shutting down Pine Gap or severely limiting its functions. I don’t mean some protestors on the streets now and then. I mean a large, visible, continuing social and political force.
Now we have the bottom-line reason the Australian government, with heavy-handed encouragement from the US, wants to increase, vastly, spying on all its citizens: no such political movement must be allowed to grow.
The embrace between the Pentagon, the NSA, and the Australian government is one of the greatest priorities of US leadership.
Therefore, Australia must go along.