Leaked Snowden Files Show US Used UK Base For Shadow Operations, Menwith Hill Part Of Capture-Kill Ops

Secret files from the National Security Agency leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the U.S. government spy agency used a U.K. base at Menwith Hill to conduct capture-kill missions in the Middle East.

The documents, leaked by Snowden on Tuesday and published by the Intercept, show the U.K. base in Yorkshire was used to spy on satellite and wireless communications around the world.

“The [NSA] programs, with names such as GHOSTHUNTER and GHOSTWOLF, have provided support for conventional British and American military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But they have also aided covert missions in countries where the US has not declared war.”

The base, known as Menwith Hill, is surrounded by rolling green fields and lush English countryside and is characterized by its huge white golf ball-like domes and razor wire fences. It sits on 545 acres and fronts as a Royal Air Force facility with the stated mission of providing rapid communications for U.K. military forces, but newly leaked documents show it’s been used to spy on international communications.

During the Cold War, it was used to monitor Soviet transmissions. Since then, it’s become the NSA’s largest overseas spying base and was instrumental in helping the U.S. plan and execute shadowy capture-kill missions.

The base, which is capable of tracking more than 300 million emails and phone calls every day, has long been the focus of journalists, researchers, and protestors. Using the giant golf ball-shaped domes on the base, a program called FORNSAT monitors communications between foreign satellites while OVERHEAD uses U.S. satellites to monitor cell phone and Wi-Fi signals.

Using the captured information, the NSA program GHOSTHUNTER directs military operatives in the Middle East toward enemy targets. The program was reportedly used to successfully target al-Qaeda weapons producers and facilitators.

Edward Snowden [Photo by The Guardian/Getty Images]

After news of the Snowden leak broke, human rights groups were quick to condemn the U.K. government for its involvement in the shadowy NSA program.

London-based Reprieve legal director Kat Craig told the Intercept, “[The revelations are] yet another example of the unacceptable level of secrecy that surrounds U.K. involvement in the U.S. ‘targeted killing’ program.”

Craig went on to call for British Prime Minister Theresa May to publicly release all information about U.K. involvement in targeted killings.

The British Defense Ministry refused to comment on the information released in the leaked files, but the U.S. Director of National Intelligence’s office was quick to defend the secret NSA program, spokesman Richard Kolko told the Intercept.

“The men and women serving the intelligence community safeguard U.S. national security… This mission protects our nation and others around the world.”

UK Menwith Hill [Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

In April of 2012, the U.K. spy base was propelled into the spotlight when members of the Occupy movement joined local residents to protest the base’s involvement in drone attacks.

Dr. Steve Schofield told RT, “The UK’s providing a facility here that’s involved in drone attacks that we know, from independent assessments, are killing and injuring thousands of civilians, and because of the covert nature of that warfare, it’s very difficult to provide information and accountability through the UK parliament. And yet these are acts of war.”

The CIA has admitted to using drones to conduct surveillance flights and targeted airstrikes against al-Qaeda since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001, but eyewitnesses claim the attacks often kill innocents in the process.

In July, the Obama administration admitted U.S. air strikes outside Afghanistan and Iraq between the years of 2009 and 2015, had claimed the lives of 64 to 116 civilians. That assessment was criticized by human rights groups, who put the number at somewhere between 200 and 1,000 innocent victims.

What do you think about the newly released information from the leaked Snowden documents showing the NSA has been using a U.K. base to spy on international communications?

[Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images]

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