THE PIVOT TO DARWIN
|Holding banner at the front gate of Robertson Army Barracks in Darwin where Obama intends to deploy 2,500 US Marines. Who does the US need to protect Australia from or is this purely Pentagon power projection?|
|Denis Doherty runs interference as private security guard at Shoal Bay Satellite Receiving Station base tried to block our banner|
I arrived in Darwin, on the north coast of Australia, yesterday afternoon. This is where Obama has announced that over 2,500 US Marines would be sent as part of the "pivot" to the Asia-Pacific.
Joining me here was Denis Doherty (who I was with in the Philippines and hails from Sydney) and Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero from Guam.
Last night a public meeting was held at a local pub and just over 30 people turned out in this military town to hear us speak. You can see the video clips of our talks here
The last person on the video is a woman who asked to recite a poem about Obama's visit to Darwin that was pure joy to listen to.
Today our hosts took us to visit the front gates of two local bases that are involved in US war operations. Robertson Barracks is the place where the US Marines will be sent. Major upgrades are underway at the base in order to accommodate the additional soldiers. The Australian government claims that the Marines stationed there will help to "deepen interoperability" between their forces and the US military.
The second base we visited is called Shoal Bay which is an important satellite interception station used by the NSA's ECHELON surveillance system - part of the program exposed by Edward Snowden that is collecting millions of phone, fax, and email communications from this part of the world.
When we arrived at the front gate of Shoal Bay, hidden along a lonely dusty road in a wooded area, a woman security guard came out of the shack to see what we were doing. I announced that we were from the NSA and wondered if Edward Snowden was there. She didn't look amused and immediately turned away.
Later in the day, after lunch, while at the home of one of Darwin's local activists we got a call from the guy who had driven us to the two bases. He reported that the Australian Federal Police had just called and asked who was the person that said he was from the NSA. Clearly anyone mentioning the NSA and Edward Snowden deserves to be checked out!
Early Thursday morning Victoria and I board a plane and head to Melbourne where we will speak.