The agreement was the result of a 1943 10-page Anglo-American Communication Agreement (BRUSA), which linked the signal interception networks of the British Headquarters for Public Communications (GCHQ) and the US National Security Agency (NSA) at the beginning of the Cold War. March 27, 1946, signed by Colonel Patrick Marr-Johnson for the London Signals Intelligence Board and Lieutenant General Hoyt Vandenberg for the U.S. State-Army-Navy Communication Intelligence Board. Although the original agreement states that trade does not “harm national interests,” the United States has often blocked the exchange of information from Commonwealth countries. The full text of the agreement was made public on 25 June 2010.  The 1966 Pine Gap Agreement and the General Security Agreement appear to fall into the third category. Both were formed under the powers of the executive branch in the areas of executive competence in foreign affairs and national security and without the authorization of Congress. The Pine Gap and General Security Agreements described above are remarkably different: while the 1998 Pine Gap agreement extension is open to the American public, the 1961 General Security Agreement was not published by the United States. This difference reveals gaps in laws that require the publication of international agreements. And it reinforces calls elsewhere for greater transparency and accountability in the formation and legal basis of such agreements. We summarize some of these revelations and talk about their implications.
In particular, we draw attention to the fact that, together, the U.S. government has an inconsistent approach to legal classification and, therefore, to the publication of these types of agreements. We are also looking more closely at an agreement – the 1961 General Security Agreement between the U.S. government and the U.K. government – that continues to inform our understanding of the privatization of intelligence services and gives us a rare insight into the “third rule,” an obstacle to surveillance and accountability in the exchange of information.