The Guardian 11 October, 2006

US denied Australia Iraq intelligence

Buried in the pile of juicy revelations documented in Bob Woodward’s new book, State of Denial, is the suggestion that the very cosy ally relationship between the US and Australia perhaps isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

The Sunday Times in London reported that Blair was angered by America’s refusal to share intelligence on Iraq with Britain. Now it emerges that Australia was also denied access.

According to Woodward, Australia and Britain complained about the fact that intelligence was routinely marked NOFORN (no foreigners), meaning the US’s closest allies were denied access to the classified Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNET), which was "used to record and communicate information about intelligence, operations orders and other technical data".

Woodward writes:

"The classified information on the SIPRNET has a caveat — "NOFORN" — meaning no foreigners were allowed access, a restriction that included even the British and Australian troops fighting alongside the Americans in Iraq. At times it went beyond the absurd.

"… Prime Minister Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard complained directly to the president about the issue several times.

"In July 2004, Bush signed a directive, supported by Rumsfeld and John McLaughlin as acting director of Central Intelligence, that said NOFORN would no longer apply to the British and Australians when they were planning for combat operations, training with the Americans or engaged in counter-terrorism activities."

Bush told Blair and Howard about the directive, saying, "I’ve just signed something out." Problem solved.

But according to Woodward, the problem wasn’t solved, and instead of "giving the Brits and Aussies access, the Pentagon began creating a new, separate SIPRNET for them."


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