Sunday, December 05, 2010

Turns out that the UN spying was only the tip of the iceberg--Wikileaks, spying, Area studies, links

In particular to the aggregation page for cables emanating from the Secretary of State's office, Here. When you deal with the sort of "Open Source" approach, what you're really doing is spying. But before that, in fact, the documents show that collection of information went way beyond that. The cable saying that people should collect credit card numbers of UN officials turns out not to be out of the ordinary but common practice with regards to officials posted in other countries, the only difference being that, in point of fact, what people were directed to get from the UN was much more extensive than is being reported. In fact, the people who are trying to minimize it either haven't actually read the cable or are flat out lying. You can look at the cable itself, through the link above, to verify that.

Check out the links on the page above to the "Reporting and Collection Needs" documents listed and you'll see that, guess what, they also want credit card numbers, frequent flier information and biometric information about officials in the Slovene, Hungarian, and Romanian governments, which suggests that as opposed to being an isolated incident the UN spying request was a standard set of requests mailed to diplomats around the globe to pursue with regards to the officials of the countries that they're stationed. In fact, the language used in all of these reports is exactly identical, meaning that it's standard practice to try to get credit card numbers of foreign political actors by embassy personnel attached to the U.S. government, which is pretty interesting.

The only reason I'm not posting the actual text is that Blogger and Google would most likely take it down.

Onto the "Area studies". A lot of the information requested is superficially just good information gathering about what you're dealing with, but if you look at what they're actually pursuing it's really an attempt to figure out the societies' political, military, economic, and social structure so that they can be manipulated for the benefit of the US and potentially overthrown if necessary. While the Eastern European countries probably don't face this risk, the same sort of information gathering, done by graduate students in the U.S. in the 1960s and 70s, particularly about Latin America, was not only secretly linked to intelligence agencies but was directly used to destabilize and to overthrow governments there, putting fascist and otherwise dictatorial, right wing, pro-capitalist, governments in place.

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