MichaelP on Sun, 30 May 1999 04:29:20 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> OZ. admits to participating in ECHELON surveillance

Whether the remark that Oz. "has become the first country openly to admit
that it " takes part in a global electronic surveillance system that
     intercepts... private and commercial international communications .." 
is totally correct, there has been both a detailed report <EXPOSING THE
GLOBAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM by Nicky Hager> published by the Covert Action
Quarterly - amongst others, and  detailed report has been  made to the
Euro Parliament < An Appraisal of Technologies of Political Control
        URL: http://jya.com/stoa-atpc.htm> 

If you havn't heard about ECHELON - it's time you did.


Melbourne AGE, Sunday May 23

  Careful, they might hear you
     Australia has become the first country openly to admit that it
     takes part in a global electronic surveillance system that
     intercepts the private and commercial international communications
     of citizens and companies from its own and other countries. The
     disclosure is made today in Channel 9's Sunday program by Martin
     Brady, director of the Defence Signals Directorate in Canberra.
     Mr Brady's decision to break ranks and officially admit the
     existence of a hitherto unacknowledged spying organisation called
     UKUSA is likely to irritate his British and American counterparts,
     who have spent the past 50 years trying to prevent their own
     citizens from learning anything about them or their business of
     "signals intelligence" - "sigint" for short.
     In his letter to Channel 9 published today, Mr Brady states that
     the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD) "does cooperate with
     counterpart signals intelligence organisations overseas under the
     UKUSA relationship".
     In other statements which have now been made publicly available on
     the Internet (www.dsd.gov.au), he also says that DSD's purpose "is
     to support Australian Government decision-makers and the Australian
     Defence Force with high-quality foreign signals intelligence
     products and services. DSD (provides) important information that is
     not available from open sources".
     Together with the giant American National Security Agency (NSA) and
     its Canadian, British, and New Zealand counterparts, DSD operates a
     network of giant, highly automated tracking stations that illicitly
     pick up commercial satellite communications and examine every fax,
     telex, e-mail, phone call, or computer data message that the
     satellites carry.
     The five signals intelligence agencies form the UKUSA pact. They
     are bound together by a secret agreement signed in 1947 or 1948.
     Although its precise terms have never been revealed, the UKUSA
     agreement provides for sharing facilities, staff, methods, tasks
     and product between the participating governments.
     Now, due to a fast-growing UKUSA system called Echelon, millions of
     messages are automatically intercepted every hour, and checked
     according to criteria supplied by intelligence agencies and
     governments in all five UKUSA countries. The intercepted signals
     are passed through a computer system called the Dictionary, which
     checks each new message or call against thousands of "collection"
     requirements. The Dictionaries then send the messages into the spy
     agencies' equivalent of the Internet, making them accessible all
     over the world.
     Australia's main contribution to this system is an ultra-modern
     intelligence base at Kojarena, near Geraldton in Western Australia.
     The station was built in the early 1990s. At Kojarena, four
     satellite tracking dishes intercept Indian and Pacific Ocean
     communications satellites. The exact target of each dish is
     concealed by placing them inside golfball like "radomes".
     About 80 per cent of the messages intercepted at Kojarena are sent
     automatically from its Dictionary computer to the CIA or the NSA,
     without ever being seen or read in Australia. Although it is under
     Australian command, the station - like its controversial
     counterpart at Pine Gap - employs American and British staff in key
     Among the "collection requirements" that the Kojarena Dictionary
     is told to look for are North Korean economic, diplomatic and
     military messages and data, Japanese trade ministry plans, and
     Pakistani developments in nuclear weapons technology and testing.
     In return, Australia can ask for information collected at other
     Echelon stations to be sent to Canberra.
     A second and larger, although not so technologically sophisticated
     DSD satellite station, has been built at Shoal Bay, Northern
     Territory. At Shoal Bay, nine satellite tracking dishes are locked
     into regional communications satellites, including systems covering
     Indonesia and south-west Asia.
     International and governmental concern about the UKUSA Echelon
     system has grown dramatically since 1996, when New Zealand writer
     Nicky Hager revealed intimate details of how it operated. New
     Zealand runs an Echelon satellite interception site at Waihopai,
     near Blenheim, South Island. Codenamed "Flintlock", the Waihopai
     station is half the size of Kojarena and its sister NSA base at
     Yakima, Washington, which also covers Pacific rim states.
     Waihopai's task is to monitor two Pacific communications
     satellites, and intercept all communications from and between the
     South Pacific islands.
     Like other Echelon stations, the Waihopai installation is protected
     by electrified fences, intruder detectors and infra-red cameras. A
     year after publishing his book, Hager and New Zealand TV reporter
     John Campbell mounted a daring raid on Waihopai, carrying a TV
     camera and a stepladder. From open, high windows, they then filmed
     into and inside its operations centre.
     They were astonished to see that it operated completely
     Although Australia's DSD does not use the term "Echelon",
     Government sources have confirmed to Channel 9 that Hager's
     description of the system is correct, and that the Australia's
     Dictionary computer at Kojarena works in the same way as the one in
     New Zealand.
     Until this year, the US Government has tried to ignore the row over
     Echelon by refusing to admit its existence. The Australian
     disclosures today make this position untenable. US intelligence
     writer Dr Jeff Richelson has also obtained documents under the US
     Freedom of Information Act, showing that a US Navy-run satellite
     receiving station at Sugar Grove, West Virginia, is an Echelon
     site, and that it collects intelligence from civilian satellites.
     The station, south-west of Washington, lies in a remote area of the
     Shenandoah Mountains. According to the released US documents, the
     station's job is "to maintain and operate an Echelon site". Other
     Echelon stations are at Sabana Seca, Puerto Rico, Leitrim, Canada
     and at Morwenstow and London in Britain.
     Information is also fed into the Echelon system from taps on the
     Internet, and by means of monitoring pods which are placed on
     undersea cables. Since 1971, the US has used specially converted
     nuclear submarines to attach tapping pods to deep underwater cables
     around the world.
     The Australian Government's decision to be open about the UKUSA
     pact and the Echelon spy system has been motivated partly by the
     need to respond to the growing international concern about economic
     intelligence gathering, and partly by DSD's desire to reassure
     Australians that its domestic spying activity is strictly limited
     and tightly supervised.
     According to DSD director Martin Brady, "to ensure that (our)
     activities do not impinge on the privacy of Australians, DSD
     operates under a detailed classified directive approved by Cabinet
     and known as the Rules on Sigint and Australian Persons".
     Compliance with this Cabinet directive is monitored by the
     inspector-general of security and intelligence, Mr Bill Blick. He
     says that "Australian citizens can complain to my office about the
     actions of DSD. And if they do so then I have the right to conduct
     an inquiry."
     But the Cabinet has ruled that Australians' international calls,
     faxes or e-mails can be monitored by NSA or DSD in specified
     circumstances. These include "the commission of a serious criminal
     offence; a threat to the life or safety of an Australian; or where
     an Australian is acting as the agent of a foreign power". Mr Brady
     says that he must be given specific approval in every case. But
     deliberate interception of domestic calls in Australia should be
     left to the police or ASIO.
     Mr Brady claims that other UKUSA nations have to follow Australia's
     lead, and not record their communications unless Australia has
     decided that this is required. "Both DSD and its counterparts
     operate internal procedures to satisfy themselves that their
     national interests and policies are respected by the others," he
     So if NSA happens to intercept a message from an Australian citizen
     or company whom DSD has decided to leave alone, they are supposed
     to strike out the name and insert "Australian national" or
     "Australian corporation" instead. Or they must destroy the
     That's the theory, but specialists differ. According to Mr Hager,
     junior members of UKUSA just can't say "no". "... When you're a
     junior ally like Australia or New Zealand, you never refuse what
     they ask for."
     There are also worries about what allies might get up to with
     information that Australia gives them. When Britain was trying to
     see through its highly controversial deal to sell Hawk fighters and
     other arms to Indonesia, staff at the Office of National
     Assessments feared that the British would pass DSD intelligence on
     East Timor to President Soeharto in order to win the lucrative
     The Australian Government does not deny that DSD and its UKUSA
     partners are told to collect economic and commercial intelligence.
     Australia, like the US, thinks this is especially justified if
     other countries or their exporters are perceived to be behaving
     unfairly. Britain recognises no restraint on economic intelligence
     gathering. Neither does France.
     According to the former Canadian agent Mike Frost, it would be
     "naive" for Australians to think that the Americans were not
     exploiting stations like Kojarena for economic intelligence
     purposes. "They have been doing it for years," he says. "Now that
     the Cold War is over, the focus is towards economic intelligence.
     Never ever over-exaggerate the power that these organisations have
     to abuse a system such as Echelon. Don't think it can't happen in
     Australia. It does."

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