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How WikiLeaks exposes America's double standards on India's UNSC bid

Last updated on: November 29, 2010 23:41 IST

How WikiLeaks exposes America's double standards on India's UNSC bid

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United States' Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described India as a "self-appointed frontrunner" for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat and directed US envoys to seek minute details about Indian diplomats stationed at the United Nations headquarters, according to classified documents released by WikiLeaks on Monday.

In a potentially damaging disclosure, the whistle-blower website released a "secret" cable issued by Clinton on July 31, 2009, as part of its massive leak of a quarter million classified documents of the American government.


Image: US President Barack Obama backed India's UNSC bid during his visit earlier this month
Photographs: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
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'Clinton ordered US diplomats to spy on UN'

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The cable posted by The New York Times gave directions to US diplomats to collect information on key issues like reform of the UN Security Council and Indo-US civilian nuclear deal and pass it on to the intelligence agencies, including on foreign diplomat's credit card and frequent-flier numbers that could be used to track a person's movements.

It asked US diplomats to ascertain deliberations regarding the UNSC expansion among key groups of countries like "self-appointed frontrunners" for permanent UNSC seats -- India, Brazil, Germany and Japan, the group of four or G-4; Uniting for Consensus group -- especially Mexico, Italy and Pakistan -- that opposes additional permanent UNSC seats; African group; and European Union, as well as key UN officials within the Secretariat and the UN General Assembly Presidency.


Image: Manmohan Singh at the UN headquarters
Photographs: Lucas Jackson/Reuters
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US indulged in human intelligence collection from Islamic nations: WikiLeaks

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The cable also sought biographical and biometric information on key Organisation of Islamic Countries permanent representatives, particularly China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Senegal and Syria; and information on their relationships with their capitals.

The cable also wanted to know about members' plans for plenary meetings of the Nuclear Suppliers Group; views on the US-India civil nuclear cooperation initiative; besides members' views on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and prospects for country ratifications.

The New York Times said the leaked cable gave a laundry list of instructions for how state department employees can fulfil the demands of a National Humint Collection Directive in specific countries. Humint being the spy-world jargon for human intelligence collection.

One cable asks 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, website identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent-flier account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information," it said.


Image: The cable sought biographical and biometric information on China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, etc
Photographs: Amr Abdallah Dalsh/Reuters
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Media's field day over WikiLeaks

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Among the secret US documents released by WikiLeaks, a total of 3,038 classified cables are from the American embassy in New Delhi, the details of which were not immediately available, mainly because of inaccessibility to the website that was experiencing heavy traffic.

A breakdown indicates that as many as 2,278 cables are from the US mission in Kathmandu, 3,325 from Colombo and 2,220 from Islamabad. These cables are often candid and some time personal assessment of the day-to-day events, functioning and meetings of US diplomats.

The documents are being published by several media outlets across the globe, despite repeated insistence from the US that it may put at risk many lives and harm American ties with its friends. The 251,287 cables, first acquired by WikiLeaks, were provided to The New York Times by an intermediary on the condition of anonymity, the daily said.

Image: The documents are being published by several media outlets across the globe, despite repeated insistence from the US
Photographs: Charles Platiau/Reuters
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We had warned India about the leaks: US

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Many are unclassified, and none are marked "top secret," the government's most secure communications status. But some 11,000 are classified "secret," 9,000 are labelled "noforn," shorthand for material considered too delicate to be shared with any foreign government, and 4,000 are designated both secret and noforn.

Ahead of the leak of the documents, the US state department had reached out to India warning it about the impending release. "We have reached out to India to warn them about a possible release of documents," US state department Spokesman P J Crowley had said.

The US has termed the leak as illegal and said that this would affect its relationship with its friends and allies. "These cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement.

Image: Andrew Winning/Reuters
Photographs: The diplomatic cables so far released by WikiLeaks have embarrassed US diplomats
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