Le département d’Etat aux ordres de la CIA

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Le département d’Etat aux ordres de la CIA

Les documents rendus publics par Wikileaks ne cessent d’alimenter la chronique. Une série d’entre eux, communiqués notamment au Guardian, permet de dresser le tableau impressionnant d’une situation extraordinaire dans la hiérarchie formelle du gouvernement des Etats-Unis : le département d’Etat, le prestigieux ministère des affaires étrangères, recevant des ordres d’espionnage de la CIA, et dans des cas dont on sait déjà (mésaventures des “diplomates” US à l’ONU) qu’ils sont particulièrement sordides et grossiers, qui les apparentent, si l’on veut une analogie célèbre, au travail des “plombiers” de l’équipe du Watergate de la Maison-Blanche du président Nixon.

Le Guardian publie un texte sur cet aspect des révélations de Wikileaks, le 2 décembre 2010

«The US state department's wishlist of information about the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, and other senior members of his organisation was drawn up by the CIA, the Guardian has learned. The disclosure comes as new information emerged about Washington's intelligence gathering on foreign diplomats, including surveillance of the telephone and internet use of Iranian and Chinese diplomats.

»One of the most embarrassing revelations to emerge from US diplomatic cables obtained by the whistleblowers' website WikiLeaks has been that US diplomats were asked to gather intelligence on Ban, other senior UN staff, security council members and other foreign diplomats – a possible violation of international law.

»US state department spokesman PJ Crowley, in interviews since the release, has tried to deflect criticism by repeatedly hinting that although the cables were signed by secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, they originated with another agency. But he refused to identify it.

»The Guardian has learned that the intelligence shopping list is drawn up annually by the manager of Humint (human intelligence), a post created by the Bush administration in 2005 in a push to better co-ordinate intelligence after 9/11. Humint is part of the CIA, which deals with overseas spying overseas and is one of at least 12 US intelligence agencies.

»The manager of Humint sets out priorities for the coming year and sends them to the state department. The actual form of words used in the diplomatic cables is written by the state department but a US official confirmed tonight that the original directives are written by the “intelligence community”.

»The US has been keen to stress that its diplomats are not acting as spies, a label that could endanger their lives. A senior US intelligence official said: “It shouldn't surprise anyone that US officials at the United Nations seek information on how other nations view topics of mutual concern. If you look at the list of topics of interest in this routine cable, the priorities represent not only what Americans view as critical issues, but our allies as well.” “No one should think of American diplomats as spies. But our diplomats do, in fact, help add to our country's body of knowledge on a wide range of important issues. That's logical and entirely appropriate, and they do so in strict accord with American law.”

»Earlier, Crowley continued to deny that the American diplomatic corps is involved in spying in any way. “They are diplomats, they are not intelligence assets,” said Crowley. “They collect information that is of use in helping inform our policies and actions … the secretary of state is not telling her diplomats to be spies.”

»The intelligence gathering directives were sent from the intelligence operations office within the state department's bureau of intelligence and research, which describes itself as “at the nexus of intelligence and foreign Policy”.

»They made clear that the intelligence operation was not merely a useful addition to the work of a secret service, but that “the [intelligence] community relies on state-reporting officers for much of the biographical information collected worldwide”. Biographic reporting is defined in the cables as including "credit card account numbers, frequent flyer account numbers" as well as “compendia of contact information”.»