More Snowden Revelations: Australia has FOUR U.S. Spy Sites

By @AringoYenko on

For several years now there had been hearsay about Australian secret agencies exchanging intelligence information and citizens' private information with other countries such as US, but no data had been available to support this claim.

Not until today.

Brazil's O Globo newspapers made public a supposedly classified NSA map of spying sites around powerful countries in the world with four Australian sites included in the map. These Australian sites, according to the newspaper, support data to U.S. intelligence collection program codenamed X-Keyscore.

The map is the latest leak following numerous revelations from Edward Snowden.

The map was supposed to be in strict classified viewing by authorized personnel from the US, Australia, Canada, Britain and New Zealand but Mr Snowden gave the map to American journalist Glenn Greenwald.

The Australian sites included in the map were the US Australian Joint Facilities at Pine Gap, the Australian Defence Satellite Communications near Geraldton in Western Australia and the Shoal Bay Receiving Station near Darwin. There was also one site in Canberra which was believed to be the naval communications station HMAS Harman.

It is to be recalled that there had been hints to this spy sites but during that time those hints were associated with cyber attacks by foreign countries such as China.

In a report from The Australian Times dated June 12 2013, mayor general Stephen Day, deputy director of cyber and information security at the Australian Signals directorate said there were at least dozens of cyber attacks every week totaling to 789 cyber attacks for 2013 alone.

According to Mr Day, "The cyber threat is real. It has real consequences, it is persistent, it is here now. We are in daily struggle against malicious threats."

He further said that many cyber attacks were aimed at defence and national security agencies to get hold of classified information and access to critical intelligence. "Once they do that, the preponderance of targeting is aimed at commercial information. We judge that 65 per cent of all cyber intrusions we see in CSOC have economic focus. If you are involved in defence industry, then you are one of the key target groups of state-sponsored cyber espionage."

With the most recent leaked map from Mr Snowden, it can be inferred that the cyber attacks previously reported were actually a secret activity agreed upon between Australia and the U.S.  

In a recent report from The Australian Times in relation with the map leaked by Mr Snowden, the U.S.-Australian Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap was also working together with the U.S. government's SIGINT collection.

SIGINT is an acronym for Signals Intelligence, a section involved in the task of gathering information through interception radio waves and electronic communication. SIGINT has become the primary means of intelligence gathering for most of the modern agencies.

Australia's main task in the collection process for the X-keyscore group entails processing all signals and then identifying which of the international intelligence community is capable of analysing the intelligence information. The Australian section will then be sending the information to the most suitable community to utilize the information.

All information derived from the leaked map can be supported by an interview of security software and encryption expert Jacob Appelbaum with Mr Snowden himself before the latter's where about were untraceable.

 The interview was published by German news magazine Der Speigel on July 7 2013.

In the interview, mr Snowden told Mr Appelbaum that The U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were working together as "Five Eyes" which was primarily aimed at strengthening the sharing of surveillance information across their borders.

Mr Snowden said, "The partners in the Five Eyes sometimes go even further than the NSA people themselves." As a way of example, Mr Snowden said that the Tempora programme by Britain's Government Communication headquarters was the major retriever of all kinds of intelligence information.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Australian Department of Defence upholds that, "Australian agencies operate in strict accordance with Australian law."

While local newspaper The Australian reported that a spokesman for Kevin Rudd declined to comment about the issue of the leaked map, reasoning that the government did not comment on intelligence matters.