Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Psssst don't tell anyone but...

US spy bases in Australia have been a sore point for years, and now the Internet is stirring things up even more.

Pine Gap, an eavesdropping facility somewhere out in the desert wilderness of the Northern Territory is off limits to Australian. We aren't even supposed to know it's there, certainly not what goes on there.

So when Negroponte made a secret visit last December, of course, 20 million Australians weren't told, but more than a billion Chinese were.

A Labour party staff member doing a Google search turned up a report from Chinese news agency Xinhua, revealing that US Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte had flown from Alice Springs to Manila to discuss joint US-Philippines counter-terrorism efforts.

In turn Xinhua got this tantalising information from the Philippine Star newspaper, which said Mr Negroponte brought 18 US officials with him aboard his giant C-17A Globemaster transport plane.

Asked, in parliament, if Negroponte visited the Australia-US joint defence facility at Pine Gap in December, Defence Minister Brendan Nelson said: "The Government does not comment publicly on matters of intelligence including the details of Australia's intelligence relationships."

Then PM Howard explained that Mr Negroponte made a working visit to Australia in December 2005. He met the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Attorney-General Philip Ruddock.

Well now we know, and it didn't hurt a bit; did it?


Praguetwin said...

Hillarious! Talk about getting snubbed.

Sometimes you really wonder why they try to be so secretive. It gains them very little, but when they get caught they look like total ar**holes.

What exactly are they ostensibly monitoring out there anyway?

Cartledge said...

If Pine Gap actually exists, [and I can't say if it does] it would be an electronic signals intercept facility [but I can't say that it is] which was commissioned during the Cold War [but I can't say that it was].
I also can't tell you that it eavesdrops on signals from Asia and those naughty Russians.

Praguetwin said...

Right, like a big microphone on the other side of the planet. Thanks.

They should just get Google to set up something and call it a day.