Snowden reveals Australia’s links to US spy web

from Edward Snowden has provided his
first disclosure of Australian involvement in US global surveillance,
identifying four facilities in the country that contribute to a key
American intelligence collection program.

Classified US National Security Agency maps leaked by Mr
Snowden and published by US journalist Glenn Greenwald in the Brazilian O Globo
newspaper reveal the locations of dozens of US and allied signals
intelligence collection sites that contribute to interception of
telecommunications and internet traffic worldwide.

The US Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap near
Alice Springs and three Australian Signals Directorate facilities: the
Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Facility at Geraldton and the naval communications station HMAS Harman outside Canberra are among
contributors to the NSA’s collection program codenamed X-Keyscore.

The New Zealand Government Security Communications Bureau facility at Waihopai near Blenheim also contributes to the program.

X-Keyscore reportedly processes all signals before they are
shunted off to various “production lines”
that deal with specific issues
and the exploitation of different data types for analysis – variously
code-named Nucleon (voice), Pinwale (video), Mainway (call records) and
Marina (internet records). US intelligence expert William Arkin
describes X-Keyscore as a “national Intelligence collection mission

The documents published by O Globo show that US and
allied signals intelligence collection facilities are distributed
worldwide, located at US and allied military and other facilities as
well as US embassies and consulates.

Fairfax Media recently reported the construction of a new
state-of-the-art data storage facility at HMAS Harman to support the
Australian signals directorate and other Australian intelligence

In an interview published in the German Der Spiegel magazine
on Sunday, Mr Snowden said the NSA operates broad secret intelligence
partnerships with other western governments, some of which are now
complaining about its programs.

Mr Snowden said that the other partners in the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance of the US, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and
New Zealand “sometimes go even further than the [National Security
Agency] people themselves.”

He highlighted the British Government Communications Headquarters “Tempora” program as an example:

“Tempora is the first ‘I save everything’ approach (‘full
take’) in the intelligence world. It sucks in all data, no matter what
it is, and which rights are violated by it. … Right now, the system is
capable of saving three days’ worth of traffic, but that will be
Three days may perhaps not sound like a lot, but it’s not
just about connection metadata. ‘Full take’ means that the system saves
everything. If you send a data packet and if makes its way through the
UK, we will get it. If you download anything, and the server is in the
UK, then we get it.”

Mr Snowden also argued that the “Five eyes” partnerships are
organised so that authorities in each country can “insulate their
political leaders from the backlash” when it became public “how
grievously they’re violating global privacy”

The Der Spiegel interview was conducted by US cryptography
expert Jacob Appelbaum and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras via
encrypted emails shortly before Mr Snowden revealed himself publicly as
the source of leaks of highly classified information on US signals
intelligence and surveillance programs.

Another US NSA whistle-blower William Binney also recently
disclosed that Australia was involved in the trial of an earlier
US-designed Internet traffic interception and analysis program codenamed

Other countries involved in the trials were the UK, Australia
and Germany a decade ago. ThinThread was not adopted but Australia has
also been directly involved with later collection programs codenamed
“Trailblazer”, “Turbulence” and “Trafficthief”.

The US government has charged Mr Snowden with offences including espionage and revoked his passport.

He has been stranded at a Moscow airport for two weeks after
leaving Hong Kong where the US Government has sought his extradition.

Three Latin American countries, Venezuela, Bolivia and
Nicaragua, have now offered Mr Snowden political asylum after European
Governments last week denied their airspace to a plane carrying the
Bolivian president Evo Morales home from a conference in Moscow after
the US State Department alleged that the former US intelligence
contractor was on board.

Russian officials have publicly urged Mr Snowden to take up
Venezuela’s asylum offer. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said
on Sunday that his government had not yet been in contact with Mr

Mr Jaua said he expected to consult on Monday with Russian
officials. Mr Snowden is being assisted by the anti-secrecy
organisation, WikiLeaks.

Leave a Reply