Pine Gap & Waihopai – The Southern Echelon
Pine Gap – Australia
Pine Gap is a satellite tracking station located near Alice Springs in Central Australia. It hosts the largest CIA facility outside America. In the late 1960s, the then prime minister, Harold Holt, entered into an agreement with the Americans that led to the establishment of Pine Gap. Holt disappeared in December 1967 while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, and was presumed drowned. Pine Gap is officially called the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap since 1988, previously it was known as Joint Defence Space Research Facility.
Coordinates: 23°47′56″S 133°44′13″E (plug those into Google Earth)
“While visiting US lawmakers are taken on tours of Pine Gap, Australia’s Federal MP’s are denied entry.
Australians were told the facility was to be a weather station. Later the official cover was a “Space Research Centre”. Our citizens remained in the dark until 1975, when Prime Minister Whitlam revealed that Pine Gap’s boss, Richard Stallings, was an agent of the CIA.
Up till then, according to former Minister Clyde Cameron, politicians had regarded the base as “a pretty harmless sort of operation”. Whitlam demanded a list of all CIA agents in the country. This infuriated US spy masters, who put pressure on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) to shut him up. CIA fears over the leaking of Pine Gaps’ secret activities helped to trigger the murky events that toppled the Whitlam government.”
Pine Gap is an Echelon mainstation. It is mostly underground (which gives some validity to the claims made on the UFO Research QLD casefiles website linked below). It was mainly established to serve as the groundstation and downlink for reconnaissance satellites like the RHYOLITE and ORION system. The facility consists of more than 7 large antennas in randomes. In Pine Gap’s Signals Processing Office, transmitted signals are received and transformed for further analysis.There is a no fly zone 4km around Pine Gap, and local land holders have agreed not to allow “visitors” access to their properties. It is said that Pine Gap employs nearly 1000 people, mainly from the CIA and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
The original code name for the Pine Gap facility was MERINO, but this is now almost obsolete.
The following is a three part interview with Donna Mulhearn, from Christians Against War, formerly a media adviser with the NSW Government. The interview details the role of Pine Gap as a secret US spy base. Donna discusses action (2007) she and other activists from Christians Against War attempted to carry out a citizen’s inspection of the secret US Pine Gap base, and the subsequent arrest and charging of these activists. She also exposes the utilisation of Pine Gap in triangulation of missile targets during the Afghan and Iraq wars.
Waihopai – New Zealand
New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau operates what it describes as a satellite communications monitoring facility in the Waihopai Valley. First announced in 1987, the facility has been identified by MP Keith Locke as part of ECHELON, the worldwide network of signals interception facilities run by the UKUSA consortium of intelligence agencies (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the Intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ).
In April 2008 three Ploughshares Aotearoa or Anzac Ploughshares activists breached three security fences to enter the base and then used a sickle to deflate the kevlar covering over one of the two satellite dishes. Prime Minister Helen Clark condemned the attack on the spy base as a “senseless act of criminal vandalism”. They waited there until they were arrested (form of protest) and charged with intentional damage and unlawful entry. They were tried in March 2010 where they readily admitted their actions in court but defended it as a “claim of right” to save human lives. The jury agreed and the three activists were acquitted on all charges. One of the protesters said “we broke a law to protect plastic to uphold a law to protect human life.”
WikiLeaks documents from the US Embassy in Fiji supported the protesters claims, but despite this and their previous acquittal, in September 2011 a NZ High Court associate ruled damages against the three activists in a Crown Civil Suit without allowing the case to proceed to trial.