Keith Locke

Is Waihopai helping the US spy on the UN?

by Keith Locke

The latest Wikileaks documents on US spying on the UN are going to make it harder for our government to justify the Waihopai spy station.

Waihopai’s main task is to intercept global communications for the US National Security Agency (NSA). 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.

The information sought on UN leaders included personal passwords and encryption keys, credit card numbers, and “biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives”. Maybe Waihopai has helped the US get some of these details.

A lot of the information sought was clearly to advance American foreign policy aims, not New Zealand’s. One question posed is why should Waihopai be collecting information for the US on “plans by UN special rapporteurs to press for potentially embarrassing investigations into the US treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay”, to quote a Guardian summary of US directives contained in the documents.

The Guardian says the “operation targeted at the UN appears to have involved all of Washington’s main intelligence agencies”, presumably including our GCSB’s Big Brother, the NSA. The secret “national human intelligence collection directive” was sent by Hillary Clinton in July 2009 to 33 embassies and consulates, presumably including Wellington. We can assume it was implemented by the US Embassy staff here, particularly those with FBI, CIA and NSA assignments.

A lot of the documents are embarrassing governments, particularly in the Arab world, by showing they were more supportive of US foreign policy than they were admitting to their own people. I wonder if any of the Wikileaks documents shows this also applies in New Zealand? We’ll find out soon enough.

Published in Justice & Democracy by Keith Locke on Mon, November 29th, 2010   

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