Foreign Dignitaries Beware, Big Brother Is Watching You
Of all the bizarre Wikileaks data released Sunday night (at least what I've looked at so far), this little bit has to be the strangest. Yes, stranger than the Batman and Robin reference and even stranger than the fact that we let the Saudi king tell us what to do.
Looks like Condi Rice and Hilary Clinton have some 'splainin to do:
The United States has expanded the role of American diplomats in collecting intelligence overseas and at the United Nations, ordering State Department personnel to gather the credit card and frequent-flier numbers, work schedules and other personal information of foreign dignitaries.
The cables give a laundry list of instructions for how State Department employees can fulfill the demands of a “National Humint Collection Directive.” (“Humint” is spy-world jargon for human intelligence collection.) One cable asks officers overseas to gather information about “office and organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cellphones, pagers and faxes,” as well as “internet and intranet ‘handles’, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.”
Now we already know this is being done in the U.S. to U.S. citizens so why would anyone believe we aren't also treating our friends overseas the same way? What fucking paranoia has overtaken this country to lead us to think this is a reasonable way to deal with other nations? And you wonder why everyone hates us.
Unlike the thousands of cables, originally obtained by WikiLeaks, that were sent from embassies to the State Department, the roughly half-dozen cables from 2008 and 2009 detailing the more aggressive intelligence collection were sent from Washington and signed by Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
One of the cables, signed by Mrs. Clinton, lists information-gathering priorities to the American staff at the United Nations in New York, including “biographic and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.”
Listen, everyone knows it's being done and everyone is doing it to everyone else but the fact that it is now known it is being done might be a bit of a problem when we're already trying to work on cleaning up the PR disaster that is the financial crisis of 2008.
And the funny part is that Hillary is now heading out on a tour to Central Asia to go kiss ass and make friends. That's going to make for some truly awkward diplomat dinners, eh?