The United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement (UKUSA, // ew-koo-SAH) is a multilateral agreement for cooperation in signals intelligence between the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The alliance of intelligence operations is also known as Five Eyes (FVEY).
Emerging from an informal agreement related to the 1941 Atlantic Charter, the secret treaty was renewed with the passage of the 1943 BRUSA Agreement, before being officially enacted on 5 March 1946 by the United Kingdom and the United States. In the following years, it was extended to encompass the three Commonwealth realms of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Other countries, known as "third parties", such as West Germany, the Philippines and several Scandinavian countries also joined the UKUSA community.
Much of the sharing of information is performed via the ultra-sensitive STONEGHOST network, which contains "the Western world's most closely guarded secrets". Besides laying down rules for intelligence sharing, the agreement formalized and cemented the "Special Relationship" between the UK and the USA.
Due to its status as a secret treaty, its existence was not known to the Prime Minister of Australia until 1973, and it was not disclosed to the public until 2005. On 25 June 2010, for the first time in history, the full text of the agreement was publicly released by Britain's National Archives, and can now be viewed online. Shortly after its release, the seven-page UKUSA Agreement was recognized by Time magazine as one of the Cold War's most important documents, with immense historical significance.
Currently, the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden have shown that the intelligence-sharing activities between the First World allies of the Cold War are rapidly shifting into the digital realm of the World Wide Web.
- 1 History
- 2 Overview
- 3 Global coverage
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Espionage
- 6 Gallery
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
The agreement originated from a ten-page British–U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement, also known as BRUSA, that connected the signal intercept networks of the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) at the beginning of the Cold War. The document was signed on 5 March 1946 by Colonel Patrick Marr-Johnson for the U.K.'s London Signals Intelligence Board and Lieutenant General Hoyt Vandenberg for the U.S. State–Army–Navy Communication Intelligence Board. Although the original agreement states that the exchange would not be "prejudicial to national interests", the United States often blocked information sharing from Commonwealth countries. The full text of the agreement was released to the public on 25 June 2010.
Under the agreement, the GCHQ and the NSA shared intelligence on the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and several eastern European countries (known as Exotics). The network was expanded in the 1960s into the Echelon collection and analysis network.
The "Five Eyes" term has its origins as a shorthand for a "AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/US EYES ONLY" classification level.
Although the UKUSA alliance is often associated with the ECHELON system, processed intelligence is reliant on multiple sources of information and the intelligence shared is not restricted to signals intelligence. The following table provides an overview of the government agencies involved and their respective responsibilities within the "Five Eyes" community:
|Country||Signals intelligence||Defence intelligence||Security intelligence||Human intelligence|
|United States||National Security Agency (NSA)||DIA||FBI||CIA|
|United Kingdom||Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)||DIS||MI5||MI6|
|Australia||Defence Signals Directorate (DSD)||DIO||ASIO||ASIS|
|Canada||Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC)||CDI||CSIS||CSIS|
|New Zealand||Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)||DDIS||SIS||SIS|
Although precise assignments are classified, it is generally known that each member of the UKUSA alliance takes lead responsibility for intelligence collection and analysis in different parts of the globe.
Australia monitors South Asia and East Asia.
Canada's geographical proximity to the Soviet Union provided considerable eavesdropping advantages during the Cold War. Canada continues to monitor the Russian and Chinese interior while managing intelligence assets in Latin America.
In addition to Southeast Asia, New Zealand is responsible for the western Pacific and maintains listening posts in the South Island at Waihopai Valley just south-west of Blenheim, and on the North Island at Tangimoana.
9 Eyes, 14 Eyes, and other "third parties"
The "Five Eyes" community is part of an extensive alliance of Western democracies sharing signals intelligence with each other. These allied countries include NATO members, other European democracies such as Sweden, and allies in the Pacific, in particular Singapore and South Korea.
Unlike the "second party" members (that is, the Five Eyes themselves), "third party" partners are not automatically exempt from intelligence targeting. According to an internal NSA document leaked by Snowden, "We (the NSA) can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners."
The "Nine Eyes" adds Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway to the club while the "Fourteen Eyes" adds Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden to the Nine Eyes.
Germany is reportedly interested in moving closer to the inner circle: an internal GCHQ document from 2009 said that the “Germans were a little grumpy at not being invited to join the 9-Eyes group." Germany may even wish to join the "Five Eyes" club. With respect to the Five Eyes, French President François Hollande has said that his country is "not within that framework and we don't intend to join." According to a former top U.S. official, "Germany joining would be a possibility, but not France – France itself spies on the US far too aggressively for that."
During the 2013 NSA leaks Internet spying scandal, the surveillance agencies of the "Five Eyes" have been accused of intentionally spying on one another's citizens and willingly sharing the collected information with each other, allegedly circumventing laws preventing each agency from spying on its own citizens.
The 2013 NSA leaks are not entirely new, but rather, they are a confirmation of earlier disclosures about the UK-USA espionage alliance. For example, the British newspaper The Independent reported back in 1996 that the U.S. National Security Agency "taps UK phones" at the request of the British intelligence agency MI5, thus allowing British agents to evade restrictive limitations on domestic telephone tapping.
The mutual surveillance and sharing of information between allies of the UK and USA resurfaced again during the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures. As described by the news magazine Der Spiegel, this was done to circumvent domestic surveillance regulations:
"Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency can spy on anyone but British nationals, the NSA can conduct surveillance on anyone but Americans, and Germany's BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) foreign intelligence agency can spy on anyone but Germans. That's how a matrix is created of boundless surveillance in which each partner aids in a division of roles.They exchanged information. And they worked together extensively. That applies to the British and the Americans, but also to the BND, which assists the NSA in its Internet surveillance."
According to The Guardian, the "Five Eyes" community is an exclusive club where new members "do not seem to be welcome":
It does not matter how senior you are, and how close a friend you think you are to Washington or London, your communications could easily be being shared among the handful of white, English-speaking nations with membership privileges.
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- Ban Ki-moon – The 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations was spied on by U.S. diplomats.
- Dilma Rousseff – The President of Brazil and her aides were put under surveillance by the NSA
- Ghazi Mashal Ajil al-Yawer – Iraq's Interim President made several romantic phone calls that caught the NSA's attention
- Kofi Annan – The 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations was spied on by UK intelligence agents.
- Mohamed ElBaradei – The Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency was put under surveillance by the Bush administration
- Nelson Mandela – The President of South Africa and his ANC hideout were closely watched by British MI6 agents
- Tony Blair – The former British Prime Minister was put under surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency, which routinely listened into and recorded all of Blair's private telephone calls.
- Princess Diana – The Princess of Wales was put under surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency, which intercepted all her phone calls right until she died in a Paris car crash with Dodi Fayed in 1997. The NSA currently holds 1,056 pages of classified information about Princess Diana, which cannot be released to public because it is still classified Top Secret.
In the aftermath of the Gulf War, a technician from the Australian Secret Intelligence Service was used by Britain's MI6 to bug Kuwaiti government offices. On behalf of the NSA, the National Defence Radio Establishment of Sweden (FRA) has been conducting a clandestine surveillance operation targeting the internal politics of Russia. Data collected by the FRA is subsequently handed over to the NSA.
On behalf of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) spied on two British cabinet ministers in 1983, according to former CSEC agent Mike Frost. Thatcher's office refused to confirm or deny these claims.
Coups d'état and revolutions
- 1953 Iranian coup d'état – According to classified documents obtained by The New York Times, the sudden restoration of absolute monarchy in 1953 following the overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was jointly orchestrated by Britain's MI6 and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
- Arab Spring - Under the reign of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya entered into a partnership with Britain's MI6 and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to obtain information regarding Libyan dissidents living in the United States and Canada. In exchange, Gaddafi allowed the Western democracies to use Libya as a base for extraordinary renditions.
- Falklands War - The British received intelligence data from the Norwegian Intelligence Service and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service. According to Defence Secretary John Nott, Britain also received information from the French during the course of the war.
- Iraq War - United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix's mobile telephone was monitored every time he went to Iraq, and the transcripts were shared among the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The interception was conducted via spy satellites in Australia, which shared intelligence data with the U.S. and Britain, and was intimately involved in the lobbying of UN members to back the war on Iraq, according to intelligence sources interviewd by The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia's foreign ministry refused to confirm or deny these claims.
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The lead singer of The Beatles, John Lennon, was placed under surveillance by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the early 1970s On behalf of the FBI, the British comedian Charlie Chaplin was placed under surveillance by MI5 agents in the 1950s.
Signatures of the Chiefs of staff of Britain and America
Text under the Top Secret heading: "To be kept under lock and key: Never to be removed from office." (Appendix F)
- ABCA Armies
- British Security Coordination - Massive British propaganda campaign targeted at the American public
- Combined Communications Electronics Board
- Special Relationship
- The Technical Cooperation Program
- "Declassified UKUSA Signals Intelligence Agreement Documents Available" (Press release). National Security Agency. 24 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Also known as the Quadripartite Agreement or Quadripartite Pact (EPIC, Privacy International (2002), Privacy and Human Rights 2002: An International Survey of Privacy Rights and Developments, Epic, 2002, p. 100, ISBN 1-893044-16-5)
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