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IWP hosts event for “Revealing Secrets” book on Australian Signals Intelligence

IWP and IAFIE representatives and speakers at a book lecture for Revealing Secrets
IWP Professor Aaron Danis, IAFIE President Barry Zulauf, IAFIE DC Chapter Chief Marilyn Peterson, Ambassador Clare Birgin, IWP President Ambassador Aldona Wos, and Dr. John Blaxland

On 5 March, IWP hosted an event featuring two former Australian government officials and historians to discuss their new book on the history of Australian Signals Intelligence (SIGINT).  Dr. John Blaxland, a Professor of International Security and intelligence Studies at the Australian National University (ANU) and former military intelligence officer, and Ambassador Clare Birgin, who had six different postings as ambassador in Eastern Europe before joining ANU, spoke about Revealing Secrets: An Unofficial History of Australian Signals Intelligence and the Advent of Cyber.

This book is the first comprehensive look at Australia’s Australian Signals Directorate (ASD – the counterpart to America’s National Security Agency), and its contributions to the so-called “Five Eyes” partnership of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States signals intelligence organizations.  Previous histories focused on the ASD’s predecessor organization and its role in World War II.

Cover image or Revealing Secrets

Prior to the talk, Dr. Blaxland and Amb. Birgin visited IWP’s crown jewel, the William Casey Collection. Afterwards, while leaving Bently Hall, Dr. Blaxland and IWP Professor Aaron Danis discussed a print outside of his office that portrays one of SIGINT’s many key contributions to World War II, the shootdown of Japanese Admiral Yamamoto’s plane in April 1943 in the South Pacific, resulting in his death.  Yamamoto was the architect of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack that brought America into the war, and the senior Japanese naval commander.

“I am reading a history of the Pacific War from largely the American perspective,” said Prof. Danis, “and Dr. Blaxland told me about the Australian signals contribution to pinpointing when and where Admiral Yamamoto’s flight would be so it could be intercepted by long-range American fighter planes.  That contribution is not mentioned in the U.S. history, so it was eye-opening.”

The talk was a joint effort by the Washington, D.C., chapter of the International Association for Intelligence Education (IAFIE) and IWP’s IAFIE Student Chapter.

“Thanks go out to Marilyn Peterson, chief of the D.C. chapter, for asking IWP to host the talk,” said Prof. Danis.  Also in attendance was IAFIE President Barry Zulauf.  A book signing followed the talk, and a video of the event can be found on the IWP YouTube Channel; a podcast version also is available.

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Book Lecture: Revealing Secrets