New Zealand base in Afghanistan was secret CIA station, book claims

Nicky Hager

Nicky Hager

A Kiwi “peacekeeping” and “civil reconstruction” base in Afghanistan was a secret station for the US Central Intelligence Agency, according to a new book by New Zealand’s preeminent investigative writer. Nicky Hager first made international headlines in 1996, with his groundbreaking book Secret Power: New Zealand’s Role in the International Spy Network. In it, he revealed the existence of the UK-USA Security Agreement and of ECHELON, a US-managed signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis platform that serves as an intelligence-sharing mechanism between UK-USA signatories. The publication of his latest book, entitled Other People’s Wars: New Zealand in Afghanistan, Iraq and the War on Terror, is scheduled to coincide with the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. The book focuses on —among other things— the Bamyan Province base in central Afghanistan, which serves as the center of operations for the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Central Asian country. It serves as a symbol of New Zealand’s cautious contribution to the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, by allowing Kiwi forces to participate with boots on the ground, while performing strictly noncombatant functions, officially described as “peacekeeping” and “civil rebuilding”. But Hager’s book alleges that the “noncombatant” mission of the Bamyan base was simply a cover, devised by the New Zealand Defence Forces’ public relations apparatus, and aimed at pacifying the country’s population. The real mission of the Bamyan base, says Hager, was to “help the Americans” by essentially concealing a covert CIA station. The author further alleges that the Kiwi forces at Bamyan were instructed to keep the presence of the CIA team secret. This they did, even as they shared daily meals with American spies in civilian clothes, who refused to disclose even basic details of their mission to their New Zealand guardians. Hager alleges that New Zealand’s defense establishment took the decision to help the CIA as part of a broader strategy of rapprochement between Wellington and Washington. Why rapprochement? It was in 1984, when, under mounting popular pressure, New Zealand’s Labour government of David Lange voted to bar nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from entering New Zealand territorial waters. At the time, the nuclear ban imposed by New Zealand was heralded by the global nuclear disarmament movement as a major victory. But Washington did not see it this way. Successive US administrations pressured Wellington to repeal the nuclear-free legislation and allow US warships to make use of New Zealand ports. Washington’s pressure increased in the years after 9/11, culminating in 2006, when the US threatened to cancel a free-trade agreement between the two countries if New Zealand refused to repeal the ban. As intelNews has written previously, at some point in time, possibly after 9/11, the US actually terminated intelligence sharing between the two countries, in order to force New Zealand to comply, and it was only in 2009 that intelligence sharing was resumed, under the Obama administration.

One Response to New Zealand base in Afghanistan was secret CIA station, book claims

  1. Kidd says:

    i love the smell of intel in the morning

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