Keith Locke
Popping the balloon of secrecy around Waihopai

Last weekend’s protest at Waihopai was the usual colourful affair. It began with a march through Blenheim, and speeches from Murray Horton, John Minto and myself.

We then adjourned to the spy base itself, up the beautiful Waihopai Valley. More speeches and chants followed by the ceremonial popping of 13 white ballons, each displaying a letter from the slogan “Close Waihopai”.  You can see some photos of the event on my Facebook page.

The protest coincided with a revelation by Nicky Hager in this weeks Sunday Star-Times that one of the Waihopai satellite dishes had (over 2008 and 2009) been pointed at Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese communications satellites.

This was the satellite dish that was uncovered in 2008 after Catholic peace activists deflated its plastic covering. People living near the base measured the angle of the disc during the 15 months it was uncovered, and their findings were checked by a registered surveyor.

This tends to reinforce the point Nicky made several years ago in the book Secret Power that Waihopai is mainly used by the US National Security Agency to spy on the state communications of Asian and Pacific countries.

Many New Zealanders wrongly think the system Waihopai is part of is largely about tracking down bad people and terrorists, but such people generally know how to avoid electronic detection.

The secrecy around the base is essentially to stop New Zealanders twigging to its two real purposes. Those are 1) to help the US spy on Asia/Pacific governments most New Zealanders want us to be friendly with; and 2) to advance America’s global political objectives, which are a bit different from our own.

54 thoughts on “Popping the balloon of secrecy around Waihopai

  1. “Last weekend’s protest at Waihopai was the usual colourful affair”

    40 or so of the Usual Suspects turned up for the group photo.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 7 (+10)

  2. 40!!!

    BluePeter said it was 10!

    So the protesters outnumbered the counter-protesters 40 to 1!

    Yikes!

    A very, very poor show from your crowd, righties!

    Those numbers indicate to me that the vast majority of new Zealanders have grave reservations about the Waihopai site!

    40!

    Wow!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 8 (-3)

  3. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 18 (-11)

  4. Curious sign “Big Brother Is Reading Your Emails”

    The Facebook generation would be horrified if people WEREN’T reading their stuff. Their biggest fear is being invisible.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 18 (-8)

  5. BluePeter – those 40 – tip of the iceberg. The mob you claim sides with you, simply have no idea. The one who did (one! snigger ) must have felt all alone in his belief that there’s ‘nothing to see here’.
    How very wrong he is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 6 (0)

  6. I see 3 of the “mob” have down voted me already, lets see if all 12 will do so.

    The photo seemed to be closer to 11 than 40, but I admit, there could have been another “wave” of at least three others. Or maybe they had gone to lunch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 3 (+4)

  7. BTW An email is as “unreadable” by third parties as a postcard. Any network administrator can capture ‘em if they route through his network.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 3 (+6)

  8. BluePeter – Keith’s two claims about the role of the base:
    1) to help the US spy on Asia/Pacific governments most New Zealanders want us to be friendly with; and 2) to advance America’s global political objectives, which are a bit different from our own.

    you don’t agree with?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4 (+1)

  9. Who aren’t the US monitoring? Mars, perhaps.

    In this day and age – think Google Earth, Google Search, the internet in general – I think the term “monitoring” is getting rather blurred. If I can monitor and collect data easily enough, then it’s hard to expect governments not to.

    These systems will be crunching pattern recognition, and I’m glad of it. It’s a much better defense than, say, missiles. The war of this century is an information/media war.

    Bin Laden seems to understand that point better than most….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2 (+4)

  10. When you get downvotes it’s a mob?

    You might want to reflect on what the worst outcome for a troll is.
    It certainly isn’t downvotes…….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2 (+2)

  11. Great vid – love the Daily Show.

    But I’m curious as to why the left here identifies with the Democrats. I mean, I wouldn’t vote Republican, I’d support the Democrats. Clinton implemented compulsory work for welfare, etc.

    The choice there appears to be right wing or lunatic, fundamentalist right wing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3 (+3)

  12. In this day and age – think Google Earth, Google Search…

    Sweet! Close it down then :-)

    You might want to reflect on what the worst outcome for a troll is.

    Persistent lamponing gets my vote!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6 (-2)

  13. RePeteNZ – that’s a funny clip.
    I didn’t know JFK had become a Republican posthumously!!

    OMG!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4 (-3)

  14. I’ve always thought spying is a force for peace, not war. The less secrets a society can keep from others the better. Give me spies rather than soldiers any day.
    It’s who gets to use the gathered information, rather than the gathering itself, that needs to be closely monitored. Oh wait, that involves more surveillance.
    I’d suggest a healthy democracy requires more and more surveillance in this modern information age.
    Further, I’d suggest that, while I have no illusions about the capacity of some in America to ‘do the wrong thing’,do you really think the ‘Asia/Pacific governments most New Zealanders want us to be friendly with’ aren’t just as capable of the same?
    The fact that they, too, will be spying on everyone else just as hard as they can, is also a good thing, in my opinion.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2 (+4)

  15. samiam – do you spy on your neighbours?
    Have you handed them your email passwords?
    Best you do, in the interests of a healthy democracy!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  16. This is cold war paranoia.

    We live in an information age. Monitoring and data analysis is just a way of life. People voluntarily give over their most personal details to Facebook and Google every day. Your entire search history is logged and belongs to a private US company.

    The horse has long since bolted, ran across the fields, and sent back the picture postcard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 4 (+1)

  17. Greenfly Says:

    So the protesters outnumbered the counter-protesters 40 to 1!

    Yikes!

    A very, very poor show from your crowd, righties!

    Those numbers indicate to me that the vast majority of new Zealanders have grave reservations about the Waihopai site!
    ……..

    that just shows how delusional you and your mob are, as Blue peter says it’s only you people who are bothered by the “spy base”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 5 (+4)

  18. Ah, but I’m not arguing that the ‘spy base’ is bad. I’m maintaining that those who don’t like it made a greater effort to express their convictions than those who support it.
    40 to 1. Clearly the ‘mob’ that turned up at Waihopai have more pep than the gormless stay-at-home ‘mob’ that you seem to speak for.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4 (-2)

  19. Greenfly, I don’t spy on my neighbors, I don’t need to, I’m lucky enough to live in a community where we don’t have fences, don’t lock our doors, cars etc. My neighbors and everyones kids wander through my place any time they like. I realise that’s unusual in this era.
    But anyway, yes it is important to know what’s happening next door. Why? Because I care. It’s a shame that, in modern communities, neighbors often don’t even know each others names.
    Email? You are welcome to come read them anytime. Boring would be the first word that springs to mind! No you can’t have my password because you could then become me. That’s an entirely different subject.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1 (+6)

  20. Further to that…
    There is an assumption that if I, or Waihopai, ‘spy’ on my neighbor, that I’m doing it with malicious intent.
    Now that maybe true, but so long as everyone has at least some idea of whats going on around them, that malice should hopefully be neutralised.
    Keith, you are a committed peace-nick, so am I, but surely absolute vigilance is even more important in your world order?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 (+5)

  21. samiam – open communities .v. spying – therein lies the difference.

    “so long as everyone has at least some idea of whats going on around them, that malice should hopefully be neutralised”.

    But that isn’t the case, is it?

    Spying isn’t free and open information sharing.

    Would you welcome the construction of a spy tower in the middle of your community, if the installers insisted that there was no malice involved?
    It certainly is important to care about your neighbours and show an interest in them, but try opening their mail without their permission and see how much they value privacy in some spheres.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5 (-1)

  22. Who paid for your trip to Waihopai Comrade Locke?

    I hope you did not charge the tax payer for this complete waste of time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 13 (-6)

  23. open communities .v. spying – therein lies the difference.
    Indeed. Is the international community open? No it isn’t, which leaves the alternative of spying.
    Or the alternative of leaving ‘them’ to do what ever they want with impunity. No thanks.
    Spying isn’t my idea of the ideal world, but if it keeps the bad guy from sneaking up on us, then it is sadly necessary.
    Your alternative?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1 (+5)

  24. I’d ensure that I wasn’t doing things that might cause irritation to my neighbours, no SAS killing nationals in far away counties for a start.
    I’d build bridges of cooperation through aid and trade, create friendly channels of communication and suppport with as many other countries as I could. I’d specialize in developing a name for international diplomacy and problem solving, concentrate on programmes that benefit others, especially those that involve food production and environmental ‘repair’.
    That kind of stuff. Whaddaya reckon? Or would I be better to invest in secretive spying to cover my shortfalls?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4 (0)

  25. Er no, that’s why THEY invest in spying to spot YOUR shortfalls. So I agree with everything you say… to ensure there is no need for NZ to be spied upon.
    However Is everyone playing the game that nicely? I don’t know.. guess I’d better find out.
    Gee, that’s called spying now isn’t it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 (+3)

  26. You don’t need a spy base for that samiam, use diplomacy and your carefully cultivated connections.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 (-1)

  27. Greenfly, I’m not entirely convinced the policy of appeasment has every been entirely succesful. Perhaps through your green tinted glasses the world is very different from the one I’m living in. I’m pretty sure that if we were to stop looking at our neighbours they would stop looking at us.

    I don’t know whether you’re an idealist or just naive.

    Looking at the number who attended the protest, by my calculations it accounts for around 0.13% of the Blenheim population, I suppose the rest must be the gormless population to which you refer, or perhaps your protest isn’t that popular.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  28. BP,

    You note that: “… An email is as “unreadable” by third parties as a postcard. Any network administrator can capture ‘em if they route through his network.”

    Which is exactly why people who don’t want their Emails read should use encryption … the software to do this (e.g. GnuPG, PGP) is free and legal. You can even send your mail anonymously using software such as mixmaster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  29. A Brief Comment On Spy Bases And Civil Disobedience
    .

    Paul G. Buchanan
    May 5, 2008

    With regard to the motives of the three protestors, their cause can be debated. Contrary to what Ploughshares believe, New Zealand derives strategic utility and material benefits from its participation in Echelon. In exchange for giving up a limited slice of its territorial sovereignty, it becomes a junior partner in a global intelligence-sharing network that gives it better access to, and early warning of, potential threat scenarios and critical developments abroad than it could obtain otherwise. It also accrues diplomatic and military benefits that are not publicly acknowledged but which are important to New Zealand’s stature in the international community.

    The nature of the eavesdropping station at Waihopai is such that it primarily engages in strategic intelligence gathering as opposed to frontline tactical intelligence gathering. Broadly speaking, it trawls through electronic signals in designated areas of military and civilian security interest, passing them along to the larger partners for filtration and analysis. Its coverage is regional as well as issue-specific, depending on the intelligence requirements of the partners. As examples of the two different types of collection, New Zealand based SIGINT stations broadly monitor diplomatic as well as military communications in the Western Pacific (and elsewhere); conversely, during the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas War NZ-based Echelon stations were used to monitor Argentine Naval communications in support of British military operations, and may be monitoring Chinese submarine transmissions at present. In return, information of specific interest to New Zealand is shared with the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—which has physical and managerial control of the eavesdropping stations in New Zealand–and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

    Thus, the likelihood that the SIGINT collection stations in New Zealand are providing positional intelligence (such as GPS coordinates) or electronic intercepts for frontline actions by US and UK forces in Iraq—as the Ploughshares protesters aver—is low, albeit technically possible. Most of that form of real-time intelligence collection is handled directly by the US or UK themselves, such as through the US Army intelligence center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona or joint intelligence collection and analysis facilities on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean (using data obtained from SIGINT stations located in other parts of the world as well as non-satellite mobile platforms). Echelon is bound to have involvement in intelligence gathering in Afghanistan as well as the Middle East, but the Afghan campaign is a UN and NATO-led mission that New Zealand publicly supports, so opposition to involvement to that type of intelligence participation runs counter to the multinational, internationalist spirit of Kiwi diplomacy and foreign military operations. Likewise, Echelon is clearly involved in monitoring the communications of unconventional warfare groups as part of the so-called “War on Terror,” but that also responds to the interests of the international community as expressed through the UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions.

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0805/S00039.htm

    whatever doubt there is the NZ public are prepared to leave to their elective representatives………. now how high is Keith Lockes approval rating???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1 (+7)

  30. GnuPG, PGP) is free and legal

    True, but it isn’t bulletproof and most people don’t use it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4 (-1)

  31. “Keith who?”, would be the response from most New Zealanders, I’m sure.

    To lack information is more of a threat to NZ, and our friends and allies, than any backlash (from whom?) against having the base situated here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 9 (-6)

  32. Oh for heavens sake. Waihopai is a secret base. It is closed to the public. “We” are not getting information from Waihopai. A few secretive individuals in government and some foriegn spies are getting information. “New Zealand” is not getting information from Waihopai. The same secretive individuals and foreign governments are getting it.

    “Samian”, whoever that is, wrote “However Is everyone playing the game that nicely? I don’t know.. guess I’d better find out.
    Gee, that’s called spying now isn’t it.”

    How is the secretive “Samian” going to find out? Knock on the gate at Waihopai and ask to look over the records? Defending a spy apparatus like Echelon requires a bizzarely naïve faith in government. As if Muldoon, let alone Watergate could never happen again…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 10 (-6)

  33. Well put Joe, especially this line,
    “Defending a spy apparatus like Echelon requires a bizzarely naïve faith in government.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 5 (-2)

  34. What’s that? said the chicken, while the duck looked on bemused.
    The hedge hog thinks they’re both stupid!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  35. Just in case anyone doesn’t know who Paul G Buchanan is:

    he was employed as a Political Science course convenor & lecturer at Auckland University until fairly recently; he has since been very popular with the media, and posts articles on Scoop regularly.

    He makes no bones about having been employed in the intelligence services whilst still an American resident; I don’t think he’s taken up NZ ctizenship, but he may have residency here based on his previous employer sponsoring him.

    I have read a lot of his commentary, and he is very good on the internal workings of the USA.
    Not sure I agree totally with his slant – on NZ politics, and the relationship between NZ and the USA, I’m pretty sure he’s still promoting the interests of the USA.

    As Joe Buchanan (no relation!) has already posted, Echelon is a real secret security intelligence network, it is based out of Waihopai and Tangimoana, and the fact that Paul G Buchanan has attempted to downplay it’s significance is interesting, in that it reveals his ultimate alliegances.

    Our government allows these incursions by another state because we are beholden to that state – in the past it was Britain, and we sent soldiers & spies to do her bidding. In the 20th century it was the USA, and we became part of the international network of watching and listening stations that 20th C technology developed. In the 21st century, the hegemony is shifting to China.

    I wonder what repercussions the FTA signed just before the 2008 elections will have – a shift in control of the data stream, or a whole new set of requirements for our security surveillance agencies?

    BTW, pardon me jh, but your slip is showing …..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8 (-6)

  36. Of course we’re “beholden” to bigger states. We can hardly “stand alone”, whatever that means in this day and age.

    The new wars are information wars. Expect much more data monitoring as an integral part of our defense strategy.

    What are you so scared of?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 (+5)

  37. I’m scared of states that round up and imprison dissidents, send dissentors off for retraining or psychiatric treatment, conscript the poor to fight and die in foreign campaigns, encourage pogroms against minorities, execute political prisoners, that sort of thing.

    I am happy to stand alone from any state, big or small. And if I have to live under a state (and I’d count NZ as a reasonably benign one) I’d rather it wasn’t “beholden” to the more oppressive states.

    And I don’t see any indication that Waihopai has anything to do with our defence strategy, let alone as an integral part of it. From what I’ve seen the NZDF has more independence and more sense than Foreign Affairs.

    And what do you mean the new wars are information wars? I don’t see any sign that wars are any different than they used to be – a bit of information, a lot of force.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 6 (-3)

  38. 18 downvotes!

    That’s 7 more people than were at the “protest”!

    On a roll…… :)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5 (0)

  39. And what do you mean the new wars are information wars?

    Consider that Al Qaeda are fighting a media war.

    The 9/11 attacks were made for television.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 6 (-2)

  40. More people are protesting me than were protesting Waihopai! :)

    Apparently I’m a more important threat….

    Can I get a troll king crown, or what!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 8 (-5)

  41. Peter, people here have noticed that no one has ever winced and whined more than you have over getting down-votes and despite the ‘jolly’ face you put on it (I’m more important than Waihopai etc.) love to watch you squirm.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3 (-1)

  42. “I don’t think you really understand trolls”

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Demerits

    To deal with the more abusive and disruptive commenters, Kiwiblog is operating a demerit system. The general guide to demerit points will be:

    100 points – For highly defamatory comments
    50 points – For grossly inflammatory comments with no redeeming quality
    35 points – For blatant trolling, highly inflammatory comments

    Greenfly/Village Idiot – permanent ban for persistent trolling and impersonating DPF

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2 (0)

  43. BP said: “Consider that Al Qaeda are fighting a media war.
    The 9/11 attacks were made for television.”

    Since when has propaganda not been part of a war? Especially by irregulars. Al Qaeda are trying to build a fighting force – to do that they use spectacular events. Wars have always used this sort of event. I can’t see that Al Qaeda are fighting an information war any more than any other military always has and always will. To say that new wars are information wars just seems like a glib comment to justify surveillance -I can’t see anything different about the “new wars”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2 (-1)

  44. Joe Buchanan…
    “Defending a spy apparatus like Echelon requires a bizzarely naïve faith in government. ”
    NOT having a spy apparatus like Echelon requires a bizzarely naïve faith in government.
    “As if Muldoon, let alone Watergate could never happen again…”
    They WILL happen again, ever more sophisticated vigilance is the best defense.
    I’m not disagreeing with what you say, I’m just really curious as to how you would keep the world safe?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 (+3)

  45. BP,

    PGP may not be 100% bullet proof, but if people used it routinely it would greatly hinder the authorities eavesdropping on electronic communication. I am confident when I encrypt my mail it won’t be easily decrypted by anyone else who it is not intended for. It is possible that someone has worked out a way of easily breaking the encryption, but if so, it probably won’t be long until the weakness becomes publicly known about. I think PGP is probably very secure at present.

    If for no other reason, if you encrypt your mail it is a form of protest against eavesdropping by the authorities. They will know the message is encrypted, but not have the resources to break the encryption.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 (+1)

  46. Do the same people who say we live in a free information age and shouldn’t be concerned by monitoring hard/ software, also believe we don’t have the right to see what information they are collecting?

    That’s what confuses me….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  47. Samiam wrote:
    “As if Muldoon, let alone Watergate could never happen again…”
    They WILL happen again, ever more sophisticated vigilance is the best defense.
    I’m not disagreeing with what you say, I’m just really curious as to how you would keep the world safe?

    My point is that the surveillance is anti-democratic. The intelligence that is gained is not shared with citizens but is retained by a very few in government who think they know best for us. I assume you are happy that they keep making decisions based on information they are not prepared to share. This is unaccountable and anti-democratic and I assume you are happy with that givern your orwellian assertion that spying is needed for democracy.

    Given that Watergate was a real conspiracy where the elites were hoarding information on their opponents (and as it transpired, on each other) I fail to see how “more sophisticated vigilance”, which is controlled by small secretive elite, can defend us against these sort of problems. This sort of surveillance is empowering the wrong people. I am entirely in favour of an informed citizenship as the best defence. But I can’t see how empowering a secretive clique with control of information can protect us against secretive cliques.

    I thought that both the left and the right subscribed to the notion that states have their own interests and act in their own interests. This seems to a fairly common view of political scientists across the political spectrum. I am surprised when reasonably intelligent people still hold onto the notion of a benevolent social-democratic state that acts in the interests of its own people.

    I do not see any evidence that this secret intelligence gathering and sharing leads to intelligent decisions. As an example, when I was working on East Timor solidarity, time and time again the New Zealand state was demonstrably wrong – despite their greater access to intelligence – than the activists who worked from freely available information about what the Indonesian government was doing in East Timor. The NZ government declared that the occupation of East Timor was “irreversible”. It wasn’t as events proved. They declared that the resistance was in decline and did not have support. It wasn’t and it did. Don McKinnon told me he “had to trust the Indonesians’ assurances” that they would provide security during the 1999 referendum. They didn’t and he shouldn’t have.

    Time and time again governments make stupid decisions despite their access to intelligence, because thay act in their own short term interests or just because they are constrained into a narrow way of thinking that leads to conclusions that security is attained by setting up secret installations or through expanding the military. Look at the South Pacific. The major instability has come from the French colonial government, the Fijian military (set up and trained by NZ), the Solomons and PNG security forces, all set up by NZ and Australian governments who think that the way to provide security is to give governments military power.

    I can’t keep the world safe. Neither can governments with all the surveillance systems in the world. But I would start by putting more trust in an informed citizenship than in secretive elites and by trying to break up the elite club in which governments of all sorts align their interests with each other and protect each other’s authoritarian repression behind the shades of diplomatic niceties. I’m not a great fan of any government but the lesson of history seems clear to me: open government is a far safer option than secret government.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3 (-2)

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