Thursday, June 14, 2007
Special Sitting of Court - Richard Tanter
“Pine Gap is primarily a US base, it would be foolish to assert otherwise” Professor Tanter
Our anxiety about the activities of the court was tonight soothed by some good humour of a court of our own making, a special session of the (almost) Supreme Court of the Northern Territory, where we all played roles of the court, and we accepted Professor Richard Tanter as an expert witness about Pine Gap.
Prof Tanter presented a mind boggling amount of technical information about what is happens in the US intelligence collection. I wont even attempt to explain the details, but check out his Institute’s website in the next week or so: “Australian Forces Abroad Project” http://gc.nautilus.org/nautilus/australia/afghanistan
Some of the key aspects of Professor Tanter’s address for me are:
• That there are three interrelated space based intelligence facilities Pine Gap in Australia, Buckley, Colarado in the USA and Menwith Hill in the UK.
• He noted that the Australian section of Pine Gap is quite separate from the US. “Pine Gap is primarily a US base, it would be foolish to assert otherwise”.
• There are currently many US staff at Pine Gap from all the major security agencies, as well as all elements of the US Defence forces.
• Pine Gap has always collected significant satellite information. However Pine Gap now also analyses much more of this information on-site.
• There are 40-50 air strikes a week on both Iraq and Afghanistan.
• He recommended looking at Human Rights Watch website about the investigations of the “decapitation strikes” on leadership of the Iraq leadership in early 2003.
• Prof Tanter suggested that we need to move beyond concepts of the National Interest, and talk about human interest.
• He also directed us to the 1999 Joint Parliamentary Treaty on Committees report #26.