Menwith Hill, near Harrogate North Yorkshire, is run by the US National Security Agency (NSA), operates outside US law and is not accountable in British law. It is part of a global network of bases used to spy on all forms of international telecommunications - including private phone calls, emails and faxes - and is crucial for the intelligence-gathering necessary for any US-led military attack. In 2007, one day before Parliamentary Summer recess Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced that Menwith Hill would be included in the US Missile Defence system with no democratic debate, consultation or accountability.
* It is the most secret US base in Britain
* It is unaccountable, unlawful and undemocratic
* It is integral to US plans to fight in and through space
* It is the world's largest spy base outside the US and is still growing
Yorkshire CND have published a new research report covering the strategic role of Menwith Hill which is available to download.
" A must read report. His findings are a challenge to officialdom but they are presented with the calm authority of the academic"
The report is available free of charge but we ask that you consider making a donation to help support our ongoing research and campaigning work.
Unaccountable US Spy Base
The Menwith Hill spy base is run by the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States. Although in 1996 it became officially known as RAF Menwith Hill, most of the 2000 + personnel on the base are American. The NSA was set up by a Presidential decree in 1952 without any debate in the US Congress. The American people know very little about the NSA and even less about Menwith Hill.
Menwith Hill is Listening
International telecommunications, including private telephone calls, faxes and e-mails are intercepted from the UK, Europe, Middle-East, North Africa and the former Soviet Union. These are monitored looking for 'key words', searching for military, diplomatic and commercial information useful to the United States.
Information collected at Menwith Hill goes directly to Fort Meade, Maryland in the United States. The British government is given selected information on a 'need-to-know' basis via GCHQ, Cheltenham, who also have some employees working at Menwith Hill. A 1998 European Parliament report made it clear that civil liberties are threatened by the work of the NSA at Menwith Hill (see http://cryptome.org/stoa-atpc-so.htm).
An Integral Part of US Missile Defence
There are no missiles at Menwith Hill but the base plays a crucial role in any global conflict. It even received an award for the part it played in 'desert Storm during the Gulf War in 1991.Menwith Hill's ongoing expansion means it is now able to transmit and receive communications and photographic images from space. This will help US Space Command in its mission to see and hear everything on the planet and enable laser weapons to be able to reach anywhere on the earth within a target of about six feet. It will also play a crucial part in US plans for a missile defence system by relaying the information gathered by the Space-Based Infra-Red satellite systems back to the US.
Undemocratic and Unaccountable
"No-one concerned about civil liberties can ignore Menwith Hill. Despite many attempts to get answers to questions, it is quite clear that Menwith Hill is not accountable to MPs and therefore not accountable to the British people." Alice Mahon, former Halifax MP
The American authorities largely refuse to answer questions, give out information or allow reporters, MPs or MEPs on to the base. Answers are also refused to many of the questions that MPs ask about Menwith Hill in the House of Commons.
Menwith Hill – Keeps on Growing....
The number of radomes (giant golf balls which cover the satellite dishes) continues to increase. By 2002 there were 30 radomes as well as large numbers of buildings and aerials, an 8' high security fence, infra-red CCTV cameras and coils of razor wire around the base. The number of radomes has now grown to 33. Menwith Hill lies within, but officially excluded from, an Area of Outstanding Beauty and its underground oil storage tanks have been leaking polluting the local environment. Although a token planning application has to be submitted for developments at the base, the local authority has no power to refuse permission or impose conditions.
The Campaign to close Menwith Hill
From the beginning, many people have worked to close the base. There have been vigils, demonstrations, peace camps, non-violent blockades and actions inside the base, letters to the press and radio and TV coverage. Action through the courts has successfully challenged the military land byelaws at the base (see http://www.cndyorks.gn.apc.org/caab/judge/woolf.htm).
The Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB) http://www.caab.org.uk/ evolved from the original mixed campaign and since 1993 there has also been a women-only camp outside the base on the A59. There is also a regular Quaker meeting for worship on the first Saturday of every month.
Yorkshire Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament organises large demonstrations outside the base as well as producing flyers and briefing papers on the base and lobbying decision-makers. We continue to protest against Menwith Hill's lack of accountability; its promotion of the arms trade and war; its violation of local, national and international law; its abuse of democracy and civil liberties; and its crucial role in US plans to dominate earth and space with nuclear and military technology.