Australia’s Pine Gap now involved in unethical drone killing strikes

Pine Gap communications facility’s operations ‘ethically unacceptable’, Professor Des Ball says, ABC News By Dylan Wench 12 Aug 14  A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is “ethically unacceptable”.Australian National University Professor Des Ball previously supported the joint Australia-US communications facility near Alice Springs, but changes to its role since the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 have changed his mind.

“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past,” he said.

Pine Gap is the jewel in the crown of Australia-US intelligence sharing, detecting nuclear weapons and intercepting communications around the globe. But for the past decade it has also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.

“We’re now locked into this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused,” Professor Ball told 7.30. “And Pine Gap is a key node in that network – that war machine, if you want to use that term – which is doing things which are very, very difficult I think, as an Australian, to justify.”…….

“We’ve already entered into a new phase of warfare where intelligence and unmanned vehicles of various sorts, under the water, killer satellites in space, are being fed from intelligence sources like Pine Gap – still one of the two biggest stations of this sort in the world – and we’re thoroughly embedded into it,” Professor Ball said……….

…..what is causing Professor Ball concern. “The drone program puts some of these dilemmas on a plate in front of you,” he said. “You have to start confronting this conflation of intelligence and operations, which has been an ongoing process now for some time.

“But the drones bring it right out in front, including on your television sets, and including the fact that I don’t know either how many terrorists have been killed by drones.

“But I would not be surprised if the total number of children exceeds the total number of terrorists. I don’t know.”

And he fears support of lethal US operations is becoming a steadily increasing part of what Pine Gap does.

“Aspects of what is collected there, the general surveillance function expanding, and the now increasing military operational uses, if they were really to change the balance around so that Pine Gap basically became a war fighting machine rather than an intelligence collector, then I think we all have to have second thoughts.”http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-13/pine-gap-us-drone-program-ethically-unacceptable-analyst/5669336

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