November 29, 2010 4:10:15 pm
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a cable to American embassies and missions around the world in 2009,ostensibly directing the diplomats to be part of the intelligence,according to classified documents made public by the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks.
The 8,358-word National Humint Collection Directive (Humint being Human Intelligence) “reflects the results of a recent Washington review of reporting and collection needs focussed on the United Nations,” the documents say.
The information Clinton directed the diplomats to ascertain ranged from basic biographical data such as diplomats’ names and addresses to their frequent flier and credit card numbers,to even “biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.” Typical biometric information includes fingerprints,signatures and iris recognition.
The cable,simply signed ‘CLINTON’,is classified S/NF – or ‘Secret/No Foreign’ – and was sent to 33 US embassies and the UN mission offices in New York,Vienna and Rome.
It asked officers overseas to gather information about “office and organisational 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,” revealed the leaked documents.
Meanwhile,in a Twitter posting,State Department spokesman P J Crowley denied that American diplomats were doing double duty as intelligence gatherers.
“Contrary to some WikiLeaks’ reporting,our diplomats are diplomats. They are not intelligence assets,” the tweet attributed to him said.
He further downplayed the cable’s significance by writing in a separate tweet: “Diplomats collect information that shapes our policies and actions. Diplomats for all nations do the same thing.”
The cable sent by Clinton on July 31,2009 gave a laundry list of instructions for how State Department employees can fulfil the demands of a “National Humint Collection Directive” in specific countries.
The White House said cables are candid reports by diplomats and can give an incomplete picture of the relationship between the United States and foreign governments.
The cables are not expressions of policy,nor do they always shape final policy decisions,White House Press Secretary,Robert Gibbs,said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.