Officially designated United States territory and manned by agents from some of America’s most sensitive intelligence agencies, the Pine Gap satellite station has been involved in some of the biggest conflicts in modern times.
But its role in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans, and in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, had been little recognised until one of its most senior spies broke ranks recently to pen a tell-all account.
Intelligence analyst David Rosenberg spent 18 years at the base, 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) south of Alice Springs, working with top-secret clearance for the National Security Agency (NSA), home to America’s code-cracking elite.
Formally known as the “Joint Defence Space Research Facility”, Pine Gap is one of Washington’s biggest intelligence collection posts, intercepting weapons and communications signals via a series of satellites orbiting Earth….
It was “certainly possible” that Pine Gap was involved in the US mission which ultimately saw Bin Laden killed in Pakistan in May, he added.
He sees “cyber-warfare” such as state-endorsed hacking and increasingly portable technology allowing, for example, the remote detonation of a bomb with a mobile phone, as the next big front for the intelligence community.