News you may have missed #856

Communications Security Establishment CanadaBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
►►Expert says Australia spies for the United States. Intelligence expert Professor Des Ball claims Australia is playing a role in America’s intelligence networks by monitoring vast swathes of the Asia Pacific region and feeding information to the US. Dr. Ball says the Australian Signals Directorate –formerly known as the Defence Signals Directorate– is sharing information with the National Security Agency (NSA). He adds that Australia has four key facilities that are part of the XKeyscore program, the NSA’s controversial computer system that searches and analyses vast amounts of internet data.
►►Canada silent on allegations of spying. A spokeswoman for Communications Security Establishment Canada has refused to comment on allegations that the agency mounts foreign operations through Canada’s embassies abroad. German magazine Der Spiegel says Canada is using diplomatic facilities to support surveillance operations in league with key allies the United States, Britain and Australia. The German newsmagazine indicates the Canadian spy agency hosts “Stateroom” sites —a term for covert signals-intelligence gathering bases hidden in consulates and embassies.
►►Russia denies spying on G20 leaders during summit. Russia has denied reports it attempted to spy on foreign powers meeting at the G20 summit in St Petersburg earlier this year, denouncing the allegations as a “clear attempt to divert attention” from revelations concerning the United States’ National Security Agency. Two Italian newspapers claimed on Tuesday that USB flash drives and cables to charge mobile phones that were given to delegates —including heads of state— at the September meeting were equipped with technology to retrieve data from computers and telephones.

Australia fears Asia backlash over PRISM surveillance revelations

David IrvineBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Australia is concerned that American whistleblower Edward Snowden may leak classified information that could damage Australia’s relations with its Asian neighbors, including China and Malaysia. Early this month, Snowden, a former technical assistant for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), disclosed the existence of PRISM, a clandestine electronic surveillance program operated by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Information provided by Snowden to British newspaper The Guardian suggests that Washington routinely shares PRISM intelligence with Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia. These four countries, along with the United States, are signatories to the so-called UKUSA agreement, a multilateral accord for cooperation in signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection, which was established secretly in 1946. Australian media reported on Wednesday that the Australian Parliament’s Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security had been briefed by senior intelligence officials on Australia’s role in PRISM. The Sydney Morning Herald said that David Irvine, Director of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and Ian McKenzie, who heads Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate, were among those who briefed the parliamentary Committee. Its members were reportedly told that the disclosures about PRISM were likely to damage Canberra’s relations with several Asian countries, in ways that are difficult to predict. One unidentified Australian intelligence official told The Herald that Snowden had “very wide access” to classified information held by the NSA, and that some of it probably includes “much detail of communications intelligence cooperation between the US and Australia”. One source went as far as to say that Snowden’s disclosures have already “damaged […] Australia’s intelligence capabilities”. Read more of this post

Comment: Major changes in Australian, NZ spy agencies

Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
This website has been keeping tabs on the ongoing transformation of New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies. Recent media reports from both countries indicate that the changes, many of which are still underway, will mark the broadest reorganization in New Zealand and Australian intelligence agencies’ operational focus and mission in over half a century. Read more of this post

Spy agencies closely monitoring climate change talks

Defence Signals Directorate logo

DSD logo

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
I have written before about the increasing involvement of intelligence agencies in ongoing climate change negotiations between the world’s governments. In October, the CIA announced the establishment of its Center on Climate Change and National Security, despite fierce opposition by Republican lawmakers. Earlier this month, it was alleged that the hackers who stole and leaked onto the Internet hundreds of University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit emails were operating via a Russian military and security network, a claim that has been disputed by the Russian FSB (Federal Security Service). However, a recent article in Australian daily The Canberra Times provides the first mainstream indication that a Western intelligence agency is “giving top priority” to the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference currently taking place in Denmark. Read more of this post

Australian military absolves itself over ministerial spy scandal

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Last March, the Australian press published allegations that the Australian military spied on the country’s defence minister because of his intimate relationship with a Chinese woman. According to the allegations, the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD), the Australian military’s communications interception organization, spied on defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon’s private communications and hacked into his computer. The purpose of the alleged operation was to gather information about the minister’s relationship with Helen Liu, a Chinese businesswoman with reported ties to the Chinese military. Last week however, the Australian Defence Department secretary, Nick Warner, released a declassified report detailing the outcome of the Department’s own investigation into the allegations. Read more of this post