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The CIA in Australia – Part 6

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Part 6 of a 6 part series
Watching Brief, PRNS, November 1986

Ian Wood:  This is side 6 of the special Watching Brief series on
the role of the CIA in Australian and New Zealand politics.  This
side of the cassette is an addendum to the other 5 part of the
series.  It features an excerpt from each of Watching Brief
editions 38 and 39, 1986.  It focuses on Christopher Boyce and
moves by the Christopher Boyce Alliance and some ALP backbenchers
for an inquiry into the role of the CIA in the downfall of the
Whitlam government.

Jane Lanbrook:  This November marks the 11th anniversary of the
dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975 and circumstantial
evidence gathered since then points to the likely role of American
and Australian intelligence agencies in the undermining of
Whitlam's reformist Labor government.  In fact, moves are now
under-way to press for an inquiry into the role of the American
Central Intelligence Agency in particular.  Ian Wood reports:

Ian Wood:  After blocking supply bills in the Senate in the early
1970s the then Liberal and Country Party Opposition under Malcolm
Fraser pried on every miscalculation or impropriety of the Whitlam
government leading in 1975 to a political crisis over the passing
of the budget.  Although the Senate never voted to actually reject
the Whitlam budget it did defer the money bills three times.

Inside Parliament:  I don't think people realise yet sufficiently
around this country just what a brink of pessimists we're coming to
because of the unprincipled and absolutely unprecedented action of
the spokesman who historically posed as `The spokesman for Law and
Order' and I give notice to you Frasers that if they are going

Ian Wood:  The stalemate lasted some months with several Liberal
Senators becoming increasingly concerned over the constitutional
legality of voting against supply for an elected government.

Inside Parliament:  ...that the Australian Trade Union movement may
very well think about withholding supplies from them....[Shouts...]

Ian Wood:  The Senate never did actually vote on the supply bills. 
Instead, in an unprecedented move the Governor-General of
Australia, Sir John Kerr, sacked the Whitlam government.

Announcer:  [People shouts of "WE WANT GOUGH", " WE WANT GOUGH" in
the background] The Governor-General of Australia who by this my
proclamation dissolves the Senate and the House of Representatives. 
Given under my hands on the great seal of Australia on the 11th of
November 1975 by his excellency's command, Malcolm fraser Prime
Minister, John Arthur Governor-General.  GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.

Ian Wood:  Not only was Whitlam dismissed, but Opposition Leader
Malcolm Fraser was placed in power as a caretaker Prime Minister
until an election to be held less than four weeks later.

Gough Whitlam:  The man the Governor-General appointed as caretaker
Prime Minister didn't have a majority in the House of
Representatives and didn't have a majority in the Senate either...

Ian Wood:  Whitlam's dismissal created the greatest political
furore Australia had ever seen.  In dealing with the Constitutional
Crisis the Governor-General, in the first instance, is supposed to
take advice from his Prime Minister and while many questioned the
future of the Whitlam government in 1975 and believed that an
election was eminent, few expected that the Governor-General may
unilaterally replace the Prime Minister of an elected government
with the leader of the minority Opposition, then Malcolm Fraser.


Ian Wood:  And so, Australia's internal political crisis was
resolved with the Liberals sweeping to power in the December 1975
election.  But was it internal?  Almost two years later on the eve
of the trial in America of former intelligence worker Christopher
Boyce it was revealed that a CIA telex had been sent to ASIO
headquarters in Australia just two days before the dismissal of the
Whitlam government.

Kelly Johnson:  It was sent by Ted Shackley, who was the head of
the East Asia Division of the CIA, to ASIO in the days prior to
November 11th.  It was essentially an order to ASIO to shut Whitlam
up or get rid of him because on the afternoon of November 11 he was
planning to announce in Parliament that Pine Gap was run by the CIA
and the CIA were extremely reluctant to have this information

Ian Wood:  Kelly Johnson of the Christopher Boyce Alliance.  In May
1977 in America former intelligence operative Christopher Boyce was
put on trial accused of spying for the Russians.  He was convicted
and sentenced to the legal maximum of 40 years jail.  Several years
later Boyce escaped and was eventually recaptured after being on
the run for 18 months.  Boyce had been a telex operator in 1975 for
a private security company, TRW, in California which had close
links with the CIA.  His job was to send and receive telexes
between agents in Australia and CIA headquarters in Langley,
Virginia.  Boyce's story incidentally was told in the film THE
FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN.  Well, Channel 9 in Sydney were good enough
to give us permission to re-broadcast key parts of an exclusive
interview with Boyce by Sixty Minutes' Ray Martin in 1982 in which
Boyce explained how the CIA's deception of Australia was the key
reason he began selling information to the Russians.

Christopher Boyce:  I was brought up in a very conservative home,
the right of Kubla Khan.  As I got older, I came to see that most
everything that I believed in was hypocrisy in this country.  My
Government was deceiving an ally, perhaps had been an ally for two
world wars, English speaking parliamentary democracy.  I thought it
was indicative of, to what my country had sunk to.

Ian Wood:  Christopher Boyce was a telex operator for CIA projects
such as the top secret Rylite and Argus spy satellites which
monitor military bases and missile launchers in China and the
Soviet Union.  Pine Gap near Alice Springs was a key link in the
CIA spy satellite network and in the mid 60s an Executive Agreement
was signed between Australia and America which was supposed to
allow Australia to share this top secret information.

Christopher Boyce:  When the Rylite project was first put in place,
the Executive Agreement meant that all information was to be shared
between the American government and the Australian government.  And
along came Mr Whitlam.  When I went to work for the project, the
initial security briefing that I had, I was told that, in fact, we
weren't going to live up to that Agreement, and that we hadn't
been.  And that there was information that was being withheld.  And
also that the Argus project, which was the advanced Rylite project,
was to be hidden from the Australians.

Ian Wood:  Boyce worked in the highest security area at TRW, the
black vault, and he remembers considerably concern amongst CIA and
Security staff at TRW over the actions and policies of the Whitlam
government in 1975.

Christopher Boyce:  There was definitely conversations in the black
vault and in the security area with members of TRW Security about
the problem of Mr Whitlam.  Mr Whitlam was not a popular figure at
all, to say the least.  The fact that inquiries were being made
about the base. Mr Whitlam was, by wanting to know what was going
on there and by publicising it, was compromising the integrity of
the project.  To their view, he was on the wrong ball club.  Mr
Whitlam's government was a threat.

Ian Wood:  And what about the fall of the Australian Labor
government?  Was there any talk of how the government might have
been undermined?

Christopher Boyce:  There were references to your Governor-General
by the Central Intelligence residents there at TRW in the Rylite
project.  They called Mr Kerr `our man Kerr.'  Joe Harrison said
that in the security area, one time I overheard that.

Ian Wood:  Well, once Whitlam had been sacked, was there any change
in the US policy of not abiding by the Executive Agreement between
the two countries or did the same deception continued and for how

Christopher Boyce:  The entire time I worked for the people,
and I imagine it continued right up until the point of my trial,
until the Executive Agreement was renegotiated.  There was a bit of
celebration that Mr Whitlam had been canned.  But my instruction as
to what was to be sent did not change, no.

Ian Wood:  In this interview with Channel 9 Sixty Minutes, Boyce
also repeated allegations he made at his trial about CIA
interference in Australian unions.  In this excerpt, Petal is the
codename for the TRW intelligence link where Boyce used to work,
Pilot refers to CIA headquarters in Virginia, and twix is
intelligence jargon for a telex message.

Christopher Boyce:  We had hardware, software and personnel to ship
out of Alice Springs, and there was worry over strikes at your
airports.  They had to do with pilots and air controllers.  And
there was an area that Petal had a definite need to know because
strikes would wreck our schedule, and so in this one instance, a
twix came from Pilot which said "Pilot will continue to suppress
the strike, continue shipment on schedule".   My conclusion is,
that either Central Intelligence directly or through intermediaries
would had to have infiltrated the hierarchy of your trade unions at
some level.

Ian Wood:  Although CIA covert activity in Australia in 1975 was
the key reason that Boyce decided to act against his own country it
wasn't the only reason.  His employment at TRW coincided with the
discrediting of the Nixon government over the Watergate affair.

Christopher Boyce:  If Mr Nixon's Government hadn't gone in flames,
I don't think that this would have happened. But at the same time,
it goes way beyond Richard Nixon and Watergate. I think that it's
just the whole general drift of where this government is headed. 
I think that this Government is a threat to mankind.  You can't
protect freedom and liberties behind stock piles of chemical and
biological weapons and nuclear weapons.  My Government built atomic
weapons, used them first, stock piled them first, moved our
I.C.B.M.s first, which was a grotesque escalation, and now that the
Russians have played catch-up for 20 years and finally achieved
equality, the only policy to come out of the White House is build
17,000 more of the monsters.  And to me that's madness.  It seems
to me my government had betrayed me long before I ever betrayed

Ian Wood:  So does Boyce see himself as a traitor?

Christopher Boyce:  I have no problems with the label traitor, if
you qualify what it's to, and I think that eventually the United
States Government is going to involve the world in the next world
war.  And being a traitor to that, I have absolutely no problems
with that whatsoever.

Ian Wood:  Christopher Boyce, interviewed by Ray Martin of Sixty
Minutes in 1982 and many thanks to Channel 9 in Sydney for the use
of that material.  And now, back to Kelly Johnson, who formed the
Christopher Boyce Alliance a year ago to question not only the
influence of US intelligence services in Australia but also the
anomalies involved in Boyce's trial.  Why were his lawyers, who had
top security clearance, not allowed to view the evidence against
him during the trial?  Why did the prosecution concentrate on his
leaking to the Russians of the Pyramider file now thought to have
been a worthless red hearing?  And why was he given a 40 year jail
sentence when the average for his type of crime is less than 20
years?  Kelly Johnson explains why she formed the Christopher Boyce
Alliance and details her current campaign for a formal inquiry into
allegations of CIA activity in Australia leading up to the Whitlam

Kelly Johnson:  Well, I was drawn to Boyce's story because of the
Whitlam connection and the more that I looked into Boyce's story
the more it became apparent that Australia's sovereignty and what
I see as the injustice inflicted on Boyce are inextricably linked. 
There have been two documents compiled by an American academic
which show that the conviction was false and that the information
Boyce was convicted on was actually freely available in the public
arena.  When you combine that with the evidence which shows that
the CIA meddled in Australia's domestic affairs is really a story
that can be ignored and shouldn't be ignored.

Ian Wood:  Well, what was the specific information that he was
convicted on?

Kelly Johnson:  It was a project that was called the Pyramider
file.  The Pyramider was a project for a new type of satellite that
allowed direct communication between spies and the CIA headquarters
in Langley, Virginia.

Ian Wood:  Well, since the Christopher Boyce Alliance was founded
in Australia what sort of actions have you taken?

Kelly Johnson:  The Christopher Boyce Alliance has presented
petitions to the Australian Parliament calling for an inquiry into
the allegations of CIA activities in Australia and expressing
concern about Boyce's allegations and about Pine Gap being a CIA-
run project and expressing concern in general about the massive
secrecy surrounding the functions of the bases.  I've also held a
major press conference releasing the documents compiled by the
American academic showing the false conviction.  The most recent
action is a press conference to be held in Canberra on November
11th in which I will be presenting statements signed by ex-Whitlam
Cabinet Ministers calling on the government to investigate all
activities the CIA has been involved in Australia.  And supporting
those statements will be one signed by present Caucus members
expressing their favour at having such an inquiry.

Ian Wood:  What's the juice of the statement that the ex-Whitlam
Cabinet Ministers have signed?

Kelly Johnson:  They are acknowledging their awareness of the
persistent rumours of CIA involvement in the dismissal,
acknowledging their awareness of specific allegations made by
Christopher Boyce during his trial in 1977, acknowledging their
awareness of the Shackley Cable and their awareness of statements
made by top ranking CIA officials which in effect admit CIA
involvement in the Whitlam coup.

Jane Lanbrook:  Ian Wood there reporting on the campaign by
sections of the peace movement for an inquiry into the role of the
American CIA in the downfall of the Whitlam Labor government in
1975.  He was talking to Kelly Johnson of the Christopher Boyce
Alliance and you also heard extracts from an interview with
Christopher Boyce in Sixty Minutes.  Many thanks to Channel 9 for
permission to re-broadcast that material.
  In Canberra on November 11th Kelly Johnson of the Christopher
Boyce Alliance and Labor Parliamentarian Peter Staples held a press
conference to call for an inquiry into allegations and other
evidence of CIA involvement in Australian politics, especially
events leading up to the sacking of the Whitlam government on
November 11, 1975.  Ian Wood reports.

Ian Wood:  The public campaign conducted by the Christopher Boyce
Alliance to open an inquiry into CIA involvement in the downfall of
the Whitlam government gained momentum on remembrance day November
11 this year with half a dozen ALP Caucus members stating their
support for an inquiry.  Kelly Johnson of the Christopher Boyce

Kelly Johnson:  Well, so far we have signed statements from Oli
Sakarov, John Scott, Russ Colman, Bob Brown, Peter Milton, Peter
Staples and Bruce Childs.

Ian Wood:  But most significant were the statements released at the
press conference supporting an investigation and signed by six
former Whitlam Cabinet Ministers.

Kelly Johnson:  The signatures I have at present are from Moss
Cass, Clyde Cameron, Jim Cavenagh, Jim Cairns, Jean McLeland and
Kent Rett.

Ian Wood:  What was the general response of all those former
cabinet ministers that you approached?

Kelly Johnson:  Well, interestingly, when I first approached them
the vast majority were interested and quite happy for me to send on
the information and send on the statement.  However, attitudes
change, people became reluctant, and I have to say I'm questioning
why that occurred.

Ian Wood:  Well, what about Lance Banner, Whitlam's Deputy Prime
Minister and Minister for Defence?

Kelly Johnson:  Well, to begin with Lance Banner was interested. 
We had several discussions on the issue and then suddenly he said,
`no, I cannot sign it for security reasons.'

Ian Wood:  And what about Whitlam himself?

Kelly Johnson:  Mr Whitlam began by indicating his concern for
Christopher Boyce's situation.  However, he said he felt he was not
in the position to put his signature to the statement because he
felt it vital that he retains complete control over what approach
he takes on this matter.  However, he did say that he was pleased
other members of the cabinet had signed the statement.

Ian Wood:  Kelly Johnson.  Well, at the press conference ALP
backbencher Peter Staples outlined why some Caucus members were
also joining the call for an inquiry into the CIA's activities in
Australia, especially in 1975.  

Peter Staples:  What is of great concern to us is that the Boyce's
allegations, the Shackley Cable, and other numerous allegations and
comments that have been made over the last 11 years have not been
taken seriously in Australia and this general involvement of the
United States' operations in Australia is something that both the
Christopher Boyce Alliance, myself and many other members of
Parliament, both current and past, believe that needs to be
investigated.  We've circulated letters to former ministers in the
Whitlam government, former Members of Parliament as well as to
current Members of Parliament, asking them to support an inquiry,
a full public inquiry into the activities of the CIA in Australia,
particularly at that time.

Ian Wood:  Then Kelly Johnson explained at the Canberra press
conference why she felt an investigation was necessary.

Kelly Johnson:  In 1975 when I was 21 years old I was aware of the
Loans scandal, the Morosi scandal and the blocking of supply but
largely dismissed them as the games that politicians played.  On
November 11th, my cynicism and complacency were rather shattered. 
In the United States, another 21 year old was experiencing extreme
rage and frustration associated with the Whitlam government. 
Christopher Boyce had taken a job as a postal clerk at an
electronics firm in California.  Within 13 weeks he had been given
an exclusive security clearance from the FBI, the CIA, the US
Defence Department, and the National Security Agency and they gave
him access to America's most secret espionage operations.  It was
there that he discovered that the US was inflicting a daily
betrayal, a daily deception, against Australia and that it was
intent on toppling the Whitlam Labor government.  Boyce lashed out
by making contact with the Russians and it was during Boyce's
espionage trial in 1977 that Australia received its first
confirmation of CIA involvement in Australia's domestic affairs. 
Immediately following that, the Shackley Cable surfaced and its
authenticity was confirmed in Parliament by Mr Whitlam.  And to
quote Mr Whitlam, he said, `In plain terms that cable revealed that
the CIA had deceived the Australian government and was still
seeking to continue its deception.'  In the same speech he also
said, `I believe the evidence is so grave in its detail and so
alarming in its implications that it demands a fullest
investigation.'   The statements that have been signed today by ex-
Whitlam Cabinet Ministers and by present Caucus members echoes
those words and we have to address the question:  Will we allow a
boy to spend 68 years in solitary confinement without questioning
whether he was denied a fair trial because of the implications it
would have had on the Australia--US alliance.

Ian Wood:  After the press conference I asked Kelly Johnson for
more details of the connections between Christopher Boyce and the
Whitlam government.

Kelly Johnson:  Well, Christopher Boyce was working in a
communications relay room from which information was coming
directly from Pine Gap to the relay room and it was then passed on
to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.  And it was through this
information coming from Pine Gap that Christopher Boyce had to
prove that the CIA was intent on toppling the Whitlam Labor

Ian Wood:  What sorts of specific information did Boyce come across
that led him to believe that the CIA was involved in Australia and
in trying to topple the Whitlam government?

Kelly Johnson:  It began during Boyce's initial briefing for the
job in the relay room.  He was told that although America and
Australia had signed an Executive Agreement to share all
information that Agreement was not being honoured and that there
was information that was being withheld from the Whitlam

Ian Wood:  What about the issue of CIA interference in Australian

Kelly Johnson:  Well, Boyce raised this specific instance where
there was personnel, hardware and software due to be ship out to
Pine Gap and there were strikes imminent in Australia amongst
pilots and air controllers and these strikes would have caused
unintentional disruptions at Pine Gap.  Boyce then discovered a
telex which came from CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia,
stating that CIA had suppressed the strikes and the shipments could
continue as normal.  It may be questioned why Pine Gap was so
important and why the strikes were suppressed.  The covert
surveillance facilities in use at Pine Gap were used to spy on the
Whitlam Labor government.  The CIA knew precisely what was
happening on a day by day level in regards to the Loans Affairs and
they knew at which point the CIA-fabricated telexes could be
introduced to the Liberals and to the media to give the most

Ian Wood:  What about the famous Shackley Cable?

Kelly Johnson:  The Shackley Cable arrived in Australia on November
10, 1975, after a briefing the CIA had given to the ASIO liaison
officer in Washington on November 8.  The reason for this was that
Gough Whitlam had stated that Richard Stallings, who was a former
director of Pine Gap and who supposedly was an employee of the US
Defence Department, was actually a CIA employee.  Whitlam had been
challenged to prove this and he intended to give his proof in
parliament on the afternoon of November 11 and this is the first
time that Australia would have had confirmation that Pine Gap was
a spy base and was run by the CIA and was spying on Australia and
on other nations, friendly nations to Australia and the United
States.  The CIA became incensed that Whitlam was going to do this
and there was much pressure put on Whitlam, particularly by Arthur
Tange, to change his Hansard.  Whitlam indicated that he would not
change his Hansard.  And then this cable from Ted Shackley, who was
head of the East Asia Division of the CIA, came through indicating
that the CIA could not allow Whitlam to make this disclosure.  The
Shackley Cable was in fact leaked in 1977, hard on the heels of
Boyce's allegations, and Mr Gough Whitlam has verified the
authenticity of the cable in Parliament.  And if I could just quite
from Mr Whitlam, `In plain terms that cable revealed that the CIA
had deceived the Australian government and was still seeking to
continue its deception.'

Ian Wood:  The Shackley Cable also seems to indicate something that
is perhaps even more ominous and that is the Australian security
organisations were also involved and knew about the pressure from
the CIA?

Kelly Johnson:  Yes and in fact if I can again quote from Mr
Whitlam, from a speech he made in Parliament, he said, `Implicit in
the CIA's approach to ASIO for information on events in Australia
was an understanding that the Australian organisation had
obligations of loyalty to the CIA itself before its obligations to
the Australian government.'

Ian Wood:  Kelly Johnson of the Christopher Boyce Alliance.  Well,
it's that evidence and the growing anti-bases campaign in Australia
that its rekindling public interest in the role of foreign
intelligence agencies in our domestic and political affairs,
especially the American CIA.   Peter Staples sums up at the press
conference on November 11 in Canberra.

Peter Staples:  This is not an anti-United States bash.  The United
States is recognised as a fundamental ally of Australia.  I bring
back to your attention Whitlam's words from Hansard of 1977, while
the first Boyce's trial was in progress, and he said, `It is
precisely because America is our principal ally that Australia must
be satisfied that American agents are not acting in a manner
contrary to our interest as a nation.  Are we to let an ally get
away with something that a rival would not be allowed to get away
with?  Alliances are not strengthened by covert operations or by
condoning and covering up such covert operations.'   Other people
who have made allegations about the CIA's activities at the time of
the dismissal include Ray Cline, former Deputy Director of the CIA;
James Flynn, former CIA employee; James Angleton, of the CIA;
Admiral Bobby Inman, former director of the NSA; and more recently
in Australia, Ralph McGehee, formerly of the CIA himself.  I think
there is enough evidence to warrant a full inquiry at this stage,
it has to be seen not only in terms of what happened in 1975 and
perhaps the period before but certainly is has to be seen in terms
of Australia's sovereignty as a democratic nation.

Jane Lanbrook:  Ian Wood there reporting on the call for a formal
inquiry into CIA involvement in Australian politics, especially the
dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.  Kelly Johnson of the
Christopher Boyce Alliance, and Labor MP Peter Staples who were
speaking at a press conference in Canberra on November 11, 1986.

End part 6 of a 6 part series

Written by nuganhand

September 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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