Pine Gap

Since US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, there has been a spike in commentary about the increasing risk of a war in our region — a war that could involve the US and China. As things stand, it would be impossible for Australia to avoid involvement in such a war. That is a reality we must urgently confront.

The six “peace pilgrims” who were arrested last September on the Pine Gap US military intelligence base, near Alice Springs, have now received court summons.

Jim Dowling, Andy Paine, Tim Webb and Franz Dowling of Brisbane and Margaret Pestorius and Paul Christie of Cairns are each charged with trespass under the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act and face maximum penalties of between seven and 14 years in prison.

Early on September 29 peace activists blockaded the Raytheon facility in Alice Springs. Four activists locked onto the gates of the facility preventing employees from entering.

This action is one in a series of protests against the military-industrial complex that supplies the joint US-Australian military base at Pine Gap.

Three “Quaker Grannies for Peace” set up breakfast on the road to Pine Gap on September 26 and invited military personnel arriving for work at the base to sit down with them.

The action is one of a series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the secret US military facility at Pine Gap, by groups advocating for the base’s closure.

The Pine Gap military spy base was established 50 years ago on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people, about 20 kilometres outside of Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.

Pine Gap is supposedly a joint US-Australian defence facility, but very little of it is “joint” or “defence” related.

Under the cover of thick clouds and blinding sun, a drone assignation takes place in the Middle East. Interception of internet messages leads US authorities to a 16-year-old Anonymous group member.

“In God we trust, all others we monitor” — Interceptor Operators motto, NSA study, Deadly Transmissions, December 1970.

This chilling quote perfectly summarises the model from which the United States founded their Big Brother approach to intelligence, as more documents leaked by National Security Agency (NSA) contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden show Australia plays a crucial role in the United States global surveillance operations.

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