Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks yesterday released a quarter of a million top secret US diplomatic cables to a handful of newspapers. The cables reveal Washington is running a secret intelligence campaign targeted at the leadership of the United Nations.
UK newspaper the Guardian, which received the messages, reported on a "classified directive" issued to US diplomats under US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's name in July last year.
It asks US diplomats to gather information about top UN personnel including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the permanent security council representatives from China, Russia, France and Britain.
Ms Clark became the head of the UN's Development Programme three months before the directive was issued.
The directive asks for a range of information including material about the personalities and leadership styles of top officials, and technical details about the communications systems they use.
It even asks for passwords and personal encryption keys used in private and commercial networks for official communications and for detailed biometric information on key UN officials.
Specific topics it seeks information on include the "plans, intentions, views, positions, lobbying, and tactics of regional groups, blocs, or coalitions on issues before the General Assembly".
It also requests "plans and intentions of key UN leaders and member states regarding the ongoing operations of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, including force protection in Afghanistan".
In the cable's one specific mention of New Zealand, it asks for "plans, tactics, timetables, and draft proposals for the Eighth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)". The cable asks information showing "whether or under what conditions states would consider withdrawing from the NPT".
The New York Times, which also received the messages, reported the type of information diplomats were now being asked to gather could be used by US electronic eavesdropping organisation the National Security Agency (NSA) for data mining and surveillance operations.
The NSA operates a global electronic communications surveillance system of which the Waihopai base in Marlborough forms a crucial part.
Green Party MP Keith Locke said the documents would now make it difficult for the Government to justify the presence of the base.
"Waihopai's main task is to intercept global communications for the US National Security Agency. The WikiLeaks documents inform us that the US has been blatantly violating international conventions with its detailed spying on UN figures, from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon down."
Mr Locke said some of the documents were proving embarrassing for governments, particularly in the Arab world, "by showing they were more supportive of US foreign policy than they were admitting".
Further details of the 250,000 cables are expected to be revealed over coming days.
And what about New Zealand? Is the US still concerned about its anti-nuclear policy?
Acknowledgements: NZ Herald
By Adam Bennett | Email Adam