You will find the latest information and some data from our previous website on all matters concerning US bases and in particular the issue of the US Missile Defense system. We are still working on some of the pages so we ask for your patience please. Click on the SITE MAP for a listing of all the pages. There is a lot of interesting information/articles listed- we particularly would like to draw your attention to the CAAB Reports and Photo and video pages. We suggest this is checked regularly as the site is updated frequently.
We are hoping to redevelop this website as it is in need of reorganising and redesigning.
Unknown territory: America’s secret archipelago of UK bases
They’ve been over here for 70 years, but the ‘opaque’ presence of our US allies worries many critics.
The Independent – By Cahal Milmo – January. 24, 2014
When Charles de Gaulle wrote to his American counterpart in 1966 ordering that all US troops be removed from French soil within 12 months, President Lyndon Johnson responded by enquiring as to whether the edict included the removal of the contents of his country’s war cemeteries.
The answer was no, but the subsequent removal of 70,000 personnel and 80,000 tonnes of materiel reinforced what has remained a cornerstone of US foreign policy – the use of the UK as Washington’s overseas military and intelligence bolthole of choice.
In response to De Gaulle’s “non” to Nato, Britain delivered one of a long series of post-war “come on over chaps” answers to the US Air Force and other arms of the US military, welcoming a further 225 fighter planes and the main European supply base for the US Army.
The result is some 70 years of co-habitation that has led to an abiding kinship – forged as Americans flooded into Britain for D-Day –and queasiness at incidents such as the use of East Anglian air bases to bomb Muammar Gaddafi in 1986, and the siting of US nuclear weapons here until 2008. …
…for the British and the US governments, the siting of Washington’s hardware – from F-15 fighters at Lakenheath to “golf ball” radomes squatting in the Yorkshire Dales at the NSA’s RAF Menwith Hill station – is mutually advantageous.
Under the UKUSA Agreement, the foundation for Anglo-American intelligence sharing signed in 1943 and considered so sensitive that it was not disclosed to the public until 2005, experts judge that the two countries have shared more secrets than any two sovereign powers in history.
It is part of a mosaic of US facilities, from air bases to listening stations in locations from North Yorkshire to Turkey, which, in the words of one US document, “delivers full-spectrum options to combatant commanders, leads and supports joint … warfighting headquarters operations, promoting regional stability”.
As well as enhancing British security, the bases pour money into local economies. Figures produced on behalf of US Air Forces in Europe claim America’s UK bases are worth $1.3bn (£812m) a year to local communities in spending on supplies, services, rent and food.
The MoD insists that there is full oversight of the “RAF” bases, including a British commander who scrutinises all actions to ensure they comply with British law, and legislation holding all foreign service personnel to UK legislation.But critics insist such assertions are a poor exchange for a grim reality of opacity over US activities and what they say is a legal no-man’s-land resulting in British impotence when it comes to holding the UK’s first ally to account.
Lindis Percy, a veteran peace activist who has protested outside US bases since 1979, said: “The thread … through everything to do with these facilities is an almost total lack of accountability. Even now, new by-laws are being introduced to deter people from going near bases already protected by draconian legislation.
“And they are particularly twitchy about bases linked to intelligence … It is the radomes and not the runways which are the new front line.”
RAF Lakenheath F-15E fighter jets drop live bombs on north coast of Scotland in USAF exercise
EDP24 – By Andrew Fitchett – Feb. 28, 2014
Fighter jets from RAF Lakenheath have been carrying out live weapons drops in Scotland as part of a training exercise.
Dramatic images released by the US Air Force (USAF) show F-15E fighters from the 492nd Fighter Squadron dropping live Guided Bomb Unit-12s (GBU-12) on the far northern border of Scotland at Cape Wrath.
The exercise, on February 10, was the first live munitions drop along the northern border of Scotland. Usually squadrons would carry out their annual requirement of participating in one live weapons drop in the US, but the recent squeezing of USAF’s budget meant the mission was postponed and it was felt to be more cost efficient to carry it out in the UK.
The location was chosen in negotiation with the Ministry of Defence.
According to USAF, dummy bombs had been dropped in the UK several years ago for practice, but never live munitions of such magnitude.
The live bombs were dropped on a large rock in the ocean, away from the population. Laser guided bombs were used to add “assurance to the accuracy of where the bomb is hitting”, according to a USAF spokesman. …
AirForceTimes.com – By Oriana Pawlyk – Feb. 28, 2014
The Pentagon is looking to close or reduce the sizes of its military bases across Europe, raising speculation that Air Force facilities might be on the chopping block.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said during the fiscal 2015 budget preview Feb. 24 that the Defense Department has reduced its European infrastructure by 30 percent since 2000, with additional recommended cuts on the way pending the European Infrastructure Consolidation Review this spring.
Following the budget preview, U.S. European Command officials announced their decision to reduce personnel at Royal Air Force Menwith Hill Station, United Kingdom, by October 2016. Approximately 500 U.S. military and civilian positions will be eliminated as the 421st Air Base Group and other U.S. military units deactivate. The base currently employs about 2,200 U.K. and U.S. military and civilian personnel. …
Statewatch, a very comprehensive resourse, is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 that monitors the state and civil liberties in the European Union.
Croughtonwatch is a website devoted to USAF/RAF Croughton (and Barford St. John), the USA’s communications and surveillance base on the border of Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. Croughton is part of a global system of electronic communications, control and surveillance that works on behalf of the US military and intelligence establishment; in turn it is an active part of both US foreign policy, the military projection of American power across Europe and the Middle East – and as part that, the increasing use of electronic surveillance and unmanned weapons systems (aka. ‘drones’). The site brings together information about what Croughton is/does, those working to highlight its role in conflict and the use of advanced surveillance and weapons technology, and recent reports/articles which highlight the role of Croughton.
Dishfire and What Obama Couldn’t Say About the N.S.A.
Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place
The New Yorker – Posted by Amy Davidson – January 17, 2014
“DISHFIRE contains a large volume of unselected SMS traffic,” a says a presentation that was put together by Britain’s General Communications Headquarters, and obtained by the Guardian thanks to Edward Snowden. The volume is very large: close to two hundred million text messages from around the world every day. “This makes it particularly useful for the development of new targets, since it is possible to examine the content of messages sent months or even years before the target was known to be of interest.” The documents go on to say that Dishfire, a National Security Agency program, whose products the G.C.H.Q. was allowed to look at, “collects pretty much everything it can, so you can see SMS from a selector which is not targeted.”
And there, in a few sentences, is an expression of why so many of the reassurances that we have heard since the first Snowden revelations seem hollow—and why President Obama has been pushed to confront their inadequacy in a speech on Friday morning. The N.S.A. collects information on people that it has no reason to suspect; it does so indiscriminately; its standard is what “it can” do, not what it ought to; and it includes not just abstract metadata but rich content. Also, the phrase “not targeted” means “surveilled without the paperwork” or, in plain English, “targeted.” The Guardian notes that the agency has “minimization” procedures for information that it somehow gets from Americans whom it hasn’t targeted. As the N.S.A. said in a statement to the paper:
Dishfire is a system that processes and stores lawfully collected SMS data. Because some SMS data of US persons may at times be incidentally collected in NSA’s lawful foreign intelligence mission, privacy protections for US persons exist across the entire process concerning the use, handling, retention, and dissemination of SMS data in Dishfire.
And yet, the minimizing never quite seems to make the volume as small as the N.S.A.’s practices makes it large. …
Obama’s NSA ‘reforms’ are little more than a PR attempt to mollify the public
Obama is draping the banner of change over the NSA status quo. Bulk surveillance that caused such outrage will remain in place
The Guardian – By Glenn Greenwald – January 17, 2014
In response to political scandal and public outrage, official Washington repeatedly uses the same well-worn tactic. It is the one that has been hauled out over decades in response to many of America’s most significant political scandals. Predictably, it is the same one that shaped President Obama’s much-heralded Friday speech to announce his proposals for “reforming” the National Security Agency in the wake of seven months of intense worldwide controversy.
The crux of this tactic is that US political leaders pretend to validate and even channel public anger by acknowledging that there are “serious questions that have been raised”. They vow changes to fix the system and ensure these problems never happen again. And they then set out, with their actions, to do exactly the opposite: to make the system prettier and more politically palatable with empty, cosmetic “reforms” so as to placate public anger while leaving the system fundamentally unchanged, even more immune than before to serious challenge.
This scam has been so frequently used that it is now easily recognizable. In the mid-1970s, the Senate uncovered surveillance abuses that had been ongoing for decades, generating widespread public fury. In response, the US Congress enacted a new law (Fisa) which featured two primary “safeguards”: a requirement of judicial review for any domestic surveillance, and newly created committees to ensure legal compliance by the intelligence community.
But the new court was designed to ensure that all of the government’s requests were approved: it met in secret, only the government’s lawyers could attend, it was staffed with the most pro-government judges, and it was even housed in the executive branch. As planned, the court over the next 30 years virtually never said no to the government…
NSA and GCHQ activities appear illegal, says EU parliamentary inquiry
Civil liberties committee report demands end to indiscriminate collection of personal data by British and US agencies
The Guardian – Nick Hopkins and Ian Traynor – January 9, 2014
Mass surveillance programmes used by the US and Britain to spy on people in Europe have been condemned in the “strongest possible terms” by the first parliamentary inquiry into the disclosures, which has demanded an end to the vast, systematic and indiscriminate collection of personal data by intelligence agencies.
The inquiry by the European parliament’s civil liberties committee says the activities of America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, GCHQ, appear to be illegal and that their operations have “profoundly shaken” the trust between countries that considered themselves allies.
The 51-page draft report, obtained by the Guardian, was discussed by the committee on Thursday. Claude Moraes, the rapporteur asked to assess the impact of revelations made by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, also condemns the “chilling” way journalists working on the stories have been intimidated by state authorities.
Though Snowden is still in Russia, MEPs are expected to take evidence from him via video-link in the coming weeks, as the European parliament continues to assess the damage from the disclosures. Committee MEPs voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to have Snowden testify, defying warnings from key US congressmen that giving the “felon” a public platform would wreck the European parliament’s reputation and hamper co-operation with Washington.
While 36 committee members voted to hear Snowden, only two, both British Conservatives, voted against. “Snowden has endangered lives. Inviting him at all is a highly irresponsible act by an inquiry that has had little interest in finding out facts and ensuring a balanced approach to this delicate issue,” said Timothy Kirkhope, a Tory MEP. “At least if Snowden wants to give evidence, he will now have to come out of the shadows and risk his location being discovered.”
The Lib Dem MEP Sarah Ludford denounced the Conservative position. “To ignore [Snowden] is absurd. The issue of whether the intelligence services are out of control merits serious examination in Europe as in the US. The Tories’ ostrich-like denial is completely out of step with mainstream opinion in both continents, including Republicans in the US and Merkel’s centre-right party in Germany. But their line is consistent with the obdurate refusal of Conservatives at Westminster to clarify and strengthen safeguards on snooping by GCHQ.” …
The EU DRAFT REPORT on the NSA and GCHQ surveillance programme and impact on EU citizens’ fundamental rights from Statewatch (325kB pdf).
MoD tightens security at American spy bases linked to drone strikes
‘Draconian’ laws would help the US cover up illegal activities
The Independent – By Cahal Milmo – December 30, 2013
The Ministry of Defence is set to introduce “draconian” new powers to tighten security and limit access to US airbases in Britain implicated in mass surveillance and drone strikes, The Independent can reveal.
The measures, which include powers to arrest for offences ranging from taking photographs to failing to clean up dog mess, would be put in place through a little-known project to overhaul the by-laws surrounding military facilities across the country.
Among the sites where the new rules are set to be imposed are two US Air Force bases used as key communication hubs for clandestine eavesdropping.
The Independent revealed earlier this year that RAF Croughton, near Milton Keynes, is used to funnel back to Washington data from a global network of spy bases in US embassies, including the secret Berlin facility alleged to have been used by the National Security Agency to listen in on the phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The base, which serves as a relay centre for CIA agent communications, is also at the centre of concerns that it may be used as a support site for US drone strikes operated from Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti against Yemeni targets.
Along with RAF Menwith Hill listening station in North Yorkshire, the base is understood to be one of Washington’s key intelligence facilities in Britain, although the MoD insists USAF staff at RAF Croughton “neither fly nor control any remotely piloted aircraft”. …
Lindis Percy, a veteran peace protester and co-founder of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB), said: “Byelaws have not been used around other bases for years and yet they are now being brought in for these locations. Why? Does this mean an expansion of both bases? As usual there is a cloak of secrecy thrown around these US occupied and controlled bases as to what they are planning.” …
Edward Snowden, after months of NSA revelations, says his mission’s accomplished
Washington Post – By Barton Gellman – December 24, 2013
Video: Post reporter Barton Gellman discusses how his exclusive interview with Edward Snowden came about and whether the former NSA contractor would ever want to return to the United States.
… During more than 14 hours of interviews, the first he has conducted in person since arriving here in June, Snowden did not part the curtains or step outside. Russia granted him temporary asylum on Aug. 1, but Snowden remains a target of surpassing interest to the intelligence services whose secrets he spilled on an epic scale.
Late this spring, Snowden supplied three journalists, including this one, with caches of top-secret documents from the National Security Agency, where he worked as a contractor. Dozens of revelations followed, and then hundreds, as news organizations around the world picked up the story. Congress pressed for explanations, new evidence revived old lawsuits and the Obama administration was obliged to declassify thousands of pages it had fought for years to conceal.
Taken together, the revelations have brought to light a global surveillance system that cast off many of its historical restraints after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Secret legal authorities empowered the NSA to sweep in the telephone, Internet and location records of whole populations. One of the leaked presentation slides described the agency’s “collection philosophy” as “Order one of everything off the menu.”
Six months after the first revelations appeared in The Washington Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Snowden agreed to reflect at length on the roots and repercussions of his choice. He was relaxed and animated over two days of nearly unbroken conversation, fueled by burgers, pasta, ice cream and Russian pastry. …
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak on this subject. In a curious way, it stems from two Ministers: the Minister of State for the Armed Forces, who claimed that there was parliamentary accountability for Menwith Hill station; and the Minister for Public Transport, who found Menwith Hill station so secret that he was not even aware of it when he was a Minister at the Ministry of Defence and thought that it was a railway station. In a recent debate, he astonishingly said that his civil servants had prepared him to reply to this Adjournment debate and he then discovered that it was connected with the Ministry of Defence. … ↓ ↓ Show more ↓ ↓
The story of Menwith Hill begins in the public area, not with a ministerial statement, debate or planted parliamentary question in the mother of Parliaments. It began on 18 July 1980 when the New Statesman published an article by Duncan Campbell and Linda Melvern entitled “The Billion Dollar Phone Tap—America’s Big Ear in the Heart of Yorkshire”.” To suggest, as the Minister has, that there is parliamentary accountability for that spy station in the Yorkshire hills is to torture the truth. Its establishment has been accompanied by lies, evasion, deceit and a persistent refusal by Ministers to provide proper information to elected representatives in this so-called mother of Parliaments. Indeed, the Minister of State for the Armed Forces has refused to allow Labour Members around the base. That is a curious change because in 1981 the former Secretary of State for Defence, Francis Pym, gave me permission to visit the base. The only qualification to that permission was a refusal to allow Duncan Campbell to accompany me because he knew something about the spying and procedures going on inside the base.
Parliamentary accountability is virtually non-existent. There is little point in asking questions when answers are refused. On 27 April 1988, I asked the Secretary of State for Defence “if he will list the agreements authorising the use of Menwith Hill communications base, Harrogate, by the United States National Security Agency.” Mr. Ian Stewart replied: “The use of Menwith Hill by the United States Department of Defence is subject to confidential arrangements between the United Kingdom and United States Government.”—[Official Report, 27 April 1988; Vol. 132, c. 203.]” I asked the same question on Thursday 19 July 1990.The then Minister of State said: “I have nothing to add to the answer which my right hon. Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, North (Mr. Stewart) gave to the hon. Member on 27 April 1988.”—[Official Report, 19 July 1990; Vol. 176, c. 654.]” I persisted again on Tuesday 16 June 1992 and asked the Secretary of State for Defence “if he will list the agreements governing the use of Menwith Hill by the National Security Agency of the United States of America.” The Minister replied: “The use of Menwith Hill by the United States Department of Defence is subject to confidential arrangements between the United Kingdom and the United States Government.”—[Official Report, 16 June 1992; Vol. 209, c. 501.]” In other words, elected Members of Parliament are denied information on the appropriation of more than 200 acres of land by the United States Government, who now run a spy station in the heart of our country which is linked up to a global network. That is inexcusable. If there is parliamentary accountability, the moon is made of green cheese.
The Menwith Hill story starts with the purchase in 1955 of a 246-acre farm on rural moors west of Harrogate. On 15 September 1960, after the expenditure of $6.8 million, the United States army security field station opened. On 1 August 1966, control of the station was transferred to the ostensibly civilian National Security Agency of America. Francis Raven, who was the chief of G group of United States army intelligence until 1975, claimed that the takeover occurred because the army resisted eavesdrop-ping on diplomatic and economic targets. That claim can be found on page 209 of James Bamford’s excellent work “Puzzle Palace”. At least the Ministry of Defence is helpful in some respects. The copy of that book has disappeared from the House of Commons Library, so it secured one from the MOD library—it was the only piece of useful information that the MOD has provided on the matter.
Menwith Hill is a spy station—a sophisticated version of the man in the dirty raincoat looking through a bedroom window or the pervert spying through a lavatory keyhole. Those who defend the station’s invasion of our land, which has never been approved by Parliament, are no better. There is no glory or wonderful purpose involved in Menwith Hill. That is all the more true now that the cold war is over. Ministers justified the Menwith Hill base by saying it was part of the cold war, but we understand that that has finished. What is their justification for the spy station now?
Yorkshire land has been taken from us to provide an eavesdropping centre that is virtually free from urban, electro-magnetic interference. That is why the station is sited at its current location. The station is part of a chain of such stations that span the globe. Their aim is to assert and retain United States supremacy. For example, exactly opposite to Menwith Hill, on the other side of the globe in a prohibited region in Australia stands the twin of Menwith Hill, Pine Gap station. When Menwith Hill opened, the United States air force security service listening post at Kirknewton near Edinburgh ceased operations and a former employee is quoted on page 210 of “Puzzle Palace” as saying: “I had to keep a special watch for commercial traffic, details of commodities, what big companies were selling, like iron and steel and gas. Changes were frequent. One week I was asked to scan all traffic between Berlin and London and another week between Rome and Belgrade. Some weeks the list of words to watch for contained dozens of names of big companies. Some weeks I just had to look for commodities. All traffic” — interception material—
“was sent back to Fort Meade in Washington.” Menwith Hill took over those functions and continued to pursue military eavesdropping.
Its spying grows. The cold war has ended, but the radomes number 21 after recent expansion. About 1,200 staff, who are mainly American, are employed there—the number has grown from 400 in 1980. United States staff are ordered never to mention the National Security Agency of America and to report all outside contacts with foreign nationals—the British people who live in the region—to ensure that supervision of such contacts is maintained. The base has a few carefully controlled public relations contacts to camouflage its isolation and secrecy, but many British people continue to oppose the base, for which there is no longer any justification, if there ever was.
Throughout the time of the base’s existence, Otley peace action group has held demonstrations and campaigned against it. A group of women, including Lindis Percy and Anne Lee, has focused particular attention on this foreign intrusion and has repeatedly entered the base and obtained valuable information—more power to their elbow. If Parliament will not provide accountability, people outside always will. While Parliament remains inert, it is people outside this place who have pushed Parliament along the road to democracy. …
This is the first of a new series of videos about CAAB.Dr Martin Schweiger tells us why he comes regularly to the weekly Tuesday evening (6pm – 8pm) demonstrations – organised by the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases – outside the main entrance to ‘RAF’ Menwith Hill near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.
Produced and directed by Mark Spark (Blackrock productions).
I Spy Dactylorhiza at the US Base at Menwith Hill
“I took half an hour off from this week’s Tuseday Night Demo at the Menwith Hill Spy Base (www.caab.org.uk) to look at the dactylorhiza on Willow Carr Corner. The site has a wide range of forms in colour and shape. The shapes vary from strongly tri-lobed (Dact 5) (the local name for these is Crow’s Foot Orchid.) To ones where the lobes are hard to see (Dact 3). My favourite of the colour forms is Dact 2.
“Sadly the light was rather poor for photography… but I’ll be back on Monday (July 4th… Independance FROM America demo) and if Dact 2 still looks as good I’ll mark it for seed collection.” …