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Posted on on December 2nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Is above really incomprehensible if remembering that quite a few countries used to overload the UN with personnel as a convenient way to put their intelligence operatives within the borders of the US? In the days of the cold war these were mainly East-bloc operatives, today they can be various Middle Easterners and even plants from business interests.

The imagination can let you run wild and the host country may love to get more information of what some individuals with UN appointments do in their vastly available extra-time.

The US text we picked up says:

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 24 STATE 080163

NOFORN, SIPDIS, E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/31/2034




1. (S/NF) This cable provides the full text of the new National HUMINT Collection Directive (NHCD) on the United Nations (paragraph 3-end) as well as a request for continued DOS reporting of biographic information relating to the United Nations (paragraph 2).

…Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to… credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

…Information about current and future use of communications systems and technologies by officials or organizations, including cellular phone networks, mobile satellite phones, very small aperture terminals (VSAT), trunked and mobile radios, pagers, prepaid calling cards, firewalls, encryption, international connectivity, use of electronic data interchange, Voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP), Worldwide interoperability for microwave access (Wi-Max), and cable and fiber networks.


Foreign Policy wrote about this:

WikiLeaks reveals vast U.S. information-gathering operation at the U.N.
Posted By Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy,  Sunday, November 28, 2010

The United States and other big powers have spied on the United
Nations as long as it has existed. But WikiLeaks’ disclosure Sunday of
the first batch of a massive trove of internal U.S. diplomatic cables
and directives gives a sense of how voracious America’s appetite for
information at the U.N. has grown.

A sweeping State Department directive — the 2009 National HUMINT
Collection Directive — instructs U.S. diplomats to collect
information on everything from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s
views on the Middle East to the frequent-flyer account numbers of
foreign delegates to the personal relationships between the U.N.
representatives in Iran and North Korea and top officials in those
governments. (HUMINT is shorthand for Human Intelligence Collection).

The directive, which was signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
identifies five top near-term intelligence priorities: Sudan, the
conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Somalia, Iran, and North Korea.
But the State Department also expressed interest in a wide spread of
other issues, from U.N. bureaucratic turf battles and revelations of
U.N. corruption to possible financial links between U.N. staff,
foreign governments, and terrorist organizations to voting practices
of third-world countries in the U.N.’s myriad committees.

Most of the directive’s information requests involve standard
diplomatic reporting about foreign governments’ positions. For
instance, it places a high priority on obtaining information about the
positions of the four other permanent members of the Security Council
— Britain, China, France, and Russia — toward Iran, North Korea, and
the Middle East. The directive urges American diplomats to discern the
“views of members states on the next SYG [Secretary General] race, to
include preferred candidates and candidates lacking U.N. member
support.” That phrase provided the first indication that the United
States is at least considering the possibility that Ban may not be
assured a second term when his first 5-year term expires at the end of

In most cases, the directive simply seeks to use American diplomats to
gauge international attitudes towards a broad spectrum of U.S. and
U.N. policies. For instance, how does the U.N. community view the role
of the U.S. military in resolving conflicts in Africa? What are the
prospects of China and Russia taking a tougher stance on human rights
in Burma or Zimbabwe? How is international sentiment toward the
International Criminal Court evolving?

But it also flags U.S. suspicions about the intentions of its foreign
counterparts, citing concern that countries like China, France, and
India may seek to “gain influence in Africa via U.N. peace
(China, for instance, now provides more U.N. peacekeepers
than any other major power). It also voices concern about efforts by
the European Union to secure additional voting rights in the U.N. and
its various agencies, a move that could potentially dilute American

Carne Ross,  a former British diplomat, said that it’s hardly news
that countries spy on one another at the U.N. “More harmful is the
reality that U.S. cables can be publicized in this devastating
manner,” he told Turtle Bay. “Diplomats may think twice before sharing
confidences with U.S. diplomats — at least until WikiLeaks is

Perhaps the most surprising detail to emerge so far from the leaks is
the extent to which U.S. diplomats in New York and abroad have been
tasked with activities traditionally associated with intelligence
gathering; i.e., collecting personal or financial information from
their sources.

According to the directive, American diplomats are instructed to
collect detailed biographical information, including business cards,
cell-phone numbers, pagers, faxes, email listings, Internet or
Intranet handles, credit-card and frequent flyer account numbers, and
work schedules. It also calls on U.S. diplomats to collect “biographic
and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats,” as well
as on diplomats from China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, South
Africa, Sudan, and Syria.

The new revelations were first divulged Sunday as part of a
coordinated disclosure by WikiLeaks of nearly a quarter of a million
sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables by several international news
organizations, including the New York Times, the Guardian, Der
Spiegel, and Le Monde. WikiLeaks released a selection of the actual
documents on its website Sunday afternoon EST.

The State Department cables are suspected of having been passed on to
WikiLeaks by a 22-year-old intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning,
according to the Guardian. Last spring, Manning was charged with
leaking sensitive materials to WikiLeaks, including a video of an
Apache helicopter killing two Reuters employees in 2007. He is facing
court martial.

In a statement, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley denied
American diplomats had been instructed to conduct espionage: “Our
diplomats are just that, diplomats. They represent our country around
the world and engage openly and transparently with representatives of
foreign governments and civil society. Through this process, they
collect information that shapes our policies and actions. This is what
diplomats, from our country and other countries, have done for
hundreds of years.”

A spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations did not respond
to a request for comment. Farhan Haq, a spokesman for the U.N.
secretary-general, said the U.N. was “not in a position to comment on
the authenticity of the document” but noted that the U.N. is “by its
very nature a transparent organization that makes a great deal of
information about its activities available to the public and member
states.” One U.N. official said that the organization had requested an
explanation from the U.S. government on the allegations, but has not
received an answer.

International treaties prohibit spying at the United Nations, but it
is widely practiced by many states. A British intelligence analyst
once revealed that U.S. and British spies listened in on the
conversations of then Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the eve of U.S.
led invasion of Iraq.

“The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is
illegal,” the Guardian reported, “citing the 1946 UN convention on
privileges and immunities which states: ‘The premises of the United
Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United
Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from
search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of
interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or
legislative action.'”

Other U.S. intelligence targets identified in the State Department directive:

*The U.S. solicits information on “plans and intentions” of U.N.
Security Council members, especially the permanent members, in
considering additional sanctions against North Korea. Also calls on
U.S. diplomats to determine North Korea’s position on “WMD-related
issues” at the United Nations.

*The U.S. seeks information on Ban’s “plans and intentions” regarding
Iran, and wants to known whether the secretary-general or any member
states intend to “pressure” the U.S. to take a particular course in
the Middle East peace process.

*The U.S. solicits information on Iranian efforts to develop or
promote spread of nuclear weapons and build diplomat support for its
activities. Calls for monitoring Tehran’s activities as the chair of
the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), and its membership on the board
of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, an agency that has long touted
Tehran’s counternarcotics efforts. The U.S. is also seeking
information on “development and democratization activities of the UNDP
in Iran; details about the UNDP Resident Coordinator’s relationship
with Iranian officials.”

*Foreign NGOs with influence on a range of issues, including human
rights, globalization, justice and reproductive health. The U.S.
directive voices concern at the capacity of some NGOs to “undermine
U.S. policy initiatives” at the U.N. or to share “confidential”
information with U.N. staff.

*The U.S. seeks information on any possible U.N. plans to expand,
reinforce, or replace the U.N.-backed peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

*The U.S. directive also seeks the views of all key parties, including
Hamas, in influencing the debate on the Middle East at the United
Nations. For instance, it highlights the importance of deciphering the
“views, plans and tactics of Hamas to gain support in the UNSC [U.N.
Security Council] or UNGA [U.N. General Assembly] for its strategies
and positions.”

*The U.S. intelligence community is not only out for itself. The
directive seeks information about possible threats against U.N.
personnel and humanitarian aid workers in Iraq. It also seeks
information on possible financial irregularities in a variety of U.N.
agencies and international funds, including the World Health
Organization and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and

*Solicits information on the views of the Security Council and other
U.N. members toward Cuban, Iranian, and Syrian bids for U.N.
leadership position, presumably in an effort to block them from

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