The Secret History of Pine Gap
Allen & Unwin 2019
Paperback 320pp RRP $32.99
Reviewer: Neville Taylor, January 2020
In the 1960s, with the US desperate to gain greater lead time on potential Russian nuclear attacks, PROJECT RAINFALL was born and a search for an effective base well out of the reach of (then) potential enemies was begun. US Secretary of State Dean Rusk sealed a deal with the Australian Government for ‘a joint US/Australian Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap’ in June 1966. The signing was toasted on site by three CIA agents and one from an Australian intelligence service.
The facility had nothing to do with research, and the partnership was all one-sided – Australians initially only being used as administration and maintenance staff. Listening to global transmissions through satellite transmissions, claims that it contributed to ‘global stability’ were far removed from the truth. It is now a key weapon in the Pentagon's war on terror, with Australians in frontline roles. The monitoring of virtually all the world’s electronic communications through ECHELON provides intelligence for the Five Eyes Anglo-allies and it targets drone strikes and supports military attacks by the US and NATO.
While government ministers have continually denied that Australia was a nuclear target, bureaucrats in Canberra secretly planned for Armageddon in the suburbs of Alice Springs. There is very thorough coverage of attempts by protesters to break into Pine Gap (with lack of success) over five decades, suspicion of CIA involvement, and Australian academics drawing conclusions about the real role of the facility and who were running it.
Gilling has painstakingly researched his topic – covering the duplicity of successive governments in hiding the activities of this American-funded, American-commanded facility from the Australian public. A most comprehensive bibliography has been included. While events have been covered in chronological sequence, the chapters have been given titles that give little indication of their content, which would have made a Table of Contents an ideal inclusion.
A serious and important work in light of today’s ‘Fake News’ and the very recent assassination of Iran’s top general.
The RUSI – Vic Library thanks the publisher for making this work available for review.